NZFFA Report for Reel Life April 2018

  • 30/04/2018

NZFFA Report for Reel Life April 2018


Too much inadequately controlled forestry practice is the message coming loud and clear in the wake of Cyclones Fehi and Gita.  Rivers, land and properties in and around the Motueka river catchment have been devastated by large quantities of slash, leftover timber and sediment. And now residents alongside Nelson’s Maitai river are also warning of the impact of forestry-related sediment on the aquatic ecosystem.  NIWA’s also recently reported that 90% of the sediment at the mouth of Tasman District’s Moutere River was the result of forestry harvesting.  As you know this is being repeated throughout New Zealand and has been for over 30 years.

Whilst many anticipate the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NPS-PF) might address many of the issues, the NPS’ primary objective is to enforce uniform resource management plans on local councils in respect of forestry activities.  The standards lay out what can be a permitted versus a discretionary activity, and are appallingly passive when it comes to protecting our freshwater, for example:

  1. Set back from rivers for all forestry activities is a maximum of ten metres.
  2. The policy relies on planting/earthworks/harvesting management plans as the means by which Council’s decide on allowing/disallowing any activity.
  3. Many of the rules are couched in highly subjective terms such as “minimising” and avoiding “significant” adverse environmental impacts.

In addition, these adverse impacts are expected to be calculated on the basis of 5% AEP which “the annual exceedance probability, which is the chance of a flood of a given size (or larger) occurring in any one year, usually expressed as a percentage.”  I suspect Gita, Fehi, super moons and the seemingly annual floods that we experience would fall well outside  this random weather metric.

Too many tourists, too many visitors, too many overseas anglers on our back country rivers.  Thanks to Nelson/Marlborough and West Coast Fish & Game in particular, we can now move this debate onwards from a perception which had a slight whiff of xenophobia into an area of reasoned debate based on facts.  Previously, a few concerned Otago anglers berated the presence of overseas anglers on our back country rivers and bridled at being displaced from said rivers as a consequence.  The back country licence (BCL) system enables Fish & Game to monitor back country fisheries use, albeit it does require BCL holders to have the courtesy to respond to questionnaires about the extent of their fishing.  And the results to date may confirm the feeling that Kiwi anglers may be getting pushed out of their own premium trout rivers.  Whilst only 5% of licences sold in 2016/17 were non-resident licences, they constituted 50% of BCL holders and 70% of those fishing the Greenstone River (a controlled fishery) were non-residents. Of course there’s much more to be done to actually determine angler days on each back country river but this is a good start.  We suspect the number is a lot higher as we hear reports of many non-resident anglers who don’t buy a non-resident licence.  Given this indicative data surely the next steps for Fish & Game should be:

  1. Undertake the same survey nationally
  2. Determine usage of rivers broken down by resident/non-resident
  3. Determine the capacity that our back country rivers can take in terms of angler days
  4. Manage those fisheries accordingly enabling equitable use for resident, non-resident, guided and unguided licenceholders

Given the appointment of the most Fish & Game-sympathetic Minister of Conservation in decades, surely now’s the time to also explore higher differential licence fees for non-residents and a premium fee to non-residents for a BCL endorsement?

Too little, if anything, strategic, thoughtful and long-term is being done in response to the exponential rise in tourist numbers.  Not only are more and more tourists visiting our shores but they’re staying for longer.  Last season 130,000 people did the Tongariro crossing and now the Walking Access Commission has just closed its public consultation on the impact of tourist numbers on our outdoors environment.  It highlights one walkway that crosses private land - in 2013, 30,000 walkers used this track, this summer it is anticipated that up to 100,000 people might have used it, enough for the landowner to say enough’s enough and stop further access.  Peter Wilson, president of the Federated Mountain Clubs has a similar message that we simply have too many tourists and that no one is addressing the problem.

We have a Minister of Tourism, Kelvin Davis believe it or not, but no Ministry of Tourism, just a small unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment whose mission statement is to “Provide advice to the Government on how it can create the right environment for enhanced productivity and growth in the tourism sector in order to increase tourism’s contribution to the New Zealand economy and regions around New Zealand.”  i.e. the ‘grow it more and she’ll be right’ milk-powder-economics mentality.  We also have Tourism NZ, a government funded entity whose job is to market NZ as a tourist destination and industry lobby groups (TEC, TIA, etc) whose job is also to pump up the volume.  So the demand side is overly catered for, but as for the supply-side there is NOTHING.  Regional Councils and DOC are left to pick up the pieces of a growth-at-all-costs approach.  Local Councils unable to cope with the numbers of tourists and over half have now instigated freedom camping by-laws to try and stem the problem and it is those Councils who accommodate the bulk of tourists that have the lowest rating base (low numbers of rate payers) and hence the least available funds to spend on managing tourists.  DOC has been given some money specifically to build two new great walks and is now trying to “disperse” tourists away from the iconic destinations out to our back country, perhaps further displacing those Kiwis who have already been displaced from Great Walks and iconic destinations. 

And the response to this crisis of capacity to date….build more toilets and car parks!  Pathetic.

The views above are solely those of David Haynes, Co-Leader of the NZ Outdoors Party, Executive Member of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and Nelson/Marlborough Fish & Game Councilor.


Back Reel Life



More Posts