Fish & Game New Zealand cautiously welcomes recommended changes to RMA reforms

  • 28/06/2023

Fish & Game New Zealand cautiously welcomes recommended changes to RMA reforms

Recommended changes to the proposed law to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) are a boost to the future of freshwater fishing and game bird hunting but questions remain over parts of the legislation, says Fish & Game New Zealand.          

Parliament’s Environment Select Committee has recommended the Government enshrine the protection of the habitat of trout and salmon alongside the protection of indigenous species in the planned Natural and Built Environment Act (NBEA). 

The select committee has also recognised the values Kiwis place on public access to lakes and rivers and recreational use and enjoyment of the natural environment. It has called for these values to be maintained and enhanced. 

“Generally, we believe this is a win for recreation, a win for anglers and hunters and a win for all New Zealanders,” says Corina Jordan, chief executive of Fish & Game New Zealand.  

“The initial draft of the NBEA completely ignored the value Kiwis place on recreation and enjoyment of our great outdoors and removed the habitat protection of trout and salmon so these recommended changes are positive for Fish & Game, our licence-holders and Kiwis.” 

“The inclusion of trout and salmon habitat protection in the new law is vitally important because it has long been recognised that these species require a healthy freshwater environment to be able to survive and thrive. They are not only nationally important due to their recreational value and for food harvest, but they also act as our canary in the coal mine. 

“Trout and salmon have some of the highest freshwater quality and quantity requirements out of our freshwater species. This has enabled Fish & Game to argue for water quality and quantity standards that have protected not just the species under our jurisdiction, but all freshwater species.  

“We have always been clear that any law must recognise both the national importance of these species and the reason why we need to protect their habitats –to safeguard the habitat of all freshwater fish. On the face of it, these changes go a long way to addressing those concerns. 

“The changes rightly prioritise the health of the natural environment overuse and development and recognise the importance of the recreational values New Zealanders hold so dear, not just now but for future generations. 

“Our licence holders deserve a lot of credit for taking the time to make their voices heard. Almost 12,000 people visited Fish & Game’s ‘Our Future’ website and nearly 3,500 sent emails outlining their concerns to the Government and MPs.”

Over the past 12 months, Fish & Game has raised its concerns about the RMA reforms with environmental NGOs, officials, MPs from all political parties and ministers, says Jordan. 

“For the most part, it appears the decision-makers have listened, but there are still areas Fish & Game want resolved. 

“For instance, the Bill should be more consistent with the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. The proposed law needs to be more explicit, in particular by ensuring the habitat of trout and salmon is protected, insofar as this is consistent with the protection of the habitats of indigenous freshwater species.  

“We remain concerned about the limits framework where the Government and local government will set environmental bottom lines for the environment, along with the ability for New Zealanders to have their voices heard in the development of new Regional Planning frameworks and consents.”  

Over the coming days, Fish & Game will be studying the select committee’s report in detail, seeking greater clarity on the recommendations and advocating for other changes, says Jordan.


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