Siltation a Major Environmental Problem mostly Unseen and Out of Mind

Opinion by Tony Orman
Satellite imagery carried out by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council reveals hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment in some of our major rivers and spewing out 20 kilometres offshore following the region’s recent storm.
The satellite imagery also shows sediment clogging up the region’s major rivers, Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro and the old Ngauroro course at Clive. a
Estimate suggest it was “hundreds of thousands of tonnes” pushed out to sea.
It’s nothing new. Many regions are suffering from silt-laden runoff. While the Hawkes Bay event was a catastrophic rainfall deluge, other regions have suffered from silt runoff from forestry workings, such as clear felling harvesting of pine plantations.
The Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association in 2015 publicly expressed deep concerns about the impact of large scale commercial forestry on the environment in Marlborough and particularly the Marlborough Sounds where siltation has been on-going and recently accelerated especially in the Pelorus Sound. 
The Marlborough District Council has received several scientific reports of the problem over the last decades but seems loath to act. It may be because the council has invested in large scale exotic forestry itself?  
A case of Council being in the words of William Shakespeare “Hoist with his own petard”?
Plus below the water surface, it is “out of sight, out of mind.”
Back in 2015 the Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association’s then president Pete Watson said farming of mussels and oysters, as well as run-off of forestry sediment in the Pelorus Sound were contributing to poor water quality.
“The sea floor is nearly three metres deep with silt and mud now, nothing grows on that mud so there’s no bottom feed for the fish,” he said.
The fact is significant marine ecosystems are being degraded or lost at an alarming rate, with sedimentation from logging smothering some ecosystems.

© Clear Felling, Pelorus Sound

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2 Responses to Siltation a Major Environmental Problem mostly Unseen and Out of Mind

  1. Charles Henry says:

    Good to see Wellington Regional Council prosecuting themselves for pollution – but who pays for the legal fees of both prosecution and defence? And just how does this benefit the poor old ratepayers?
    Surely be better to hold the officers responsible to account rather than extracting blood out of the ratepayers stone!

  2. Tony Orman says:

    I meant to mention:- a very helpful Marlborough District (MDC) council staff member when I suggested clear felling in one cut should not allowed and that two cuts 12 months apart along the contour should be done, told me the “two cut-felling” is commonly done in Europe.
    “Well why not do it here?” I asked.
    “The big forestry corporates wouldn’t want to, ” he replied.
    MDC has had several reports/studies by scientists of heavy silting of Sounds but do nothing. But then MDC is heavily into commercial forestry itself so is in a stupid situation. But its first duty is to the public not to half a dozen forestry corporates.

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