Fish & Game calls for Ecan to lift performance on protecting waterways
Fish & Game says it’s high time that Environment Canterbury (Ecan) met its obligations to the region’s ratepayers – after failing dismally to provide effective responses to many reports of cattle damaging waterways.
North Canterbury Fish and Game Council says that as managers of the freshwater sports fishery and habitat, it is recommending immediate steps that Ecan should take to meet its obligations to ratepayers.
“As a starting point we have prepared a report using Ecan’s own data sourced via an Official Information request,” says the Chairman Trevor Isitt.
The report titled An Analysis of Environment Canterbury’s Enforcement of Waterway Protection Rules provides evidence that supports the points we have made, and includes recommendations for action.
The North Canterbury Fish and Game Council will be discussing this report and its recommendations directly with Ecan commissioners at a meeting on Thursday May 12.
The report demonstrates that after investigating 382 complaints of stock in waterways, Ecan took enforcement action in only 15 cases, demonstrating a reluctance to set a high standard.
There are also numerous examples of incident response times taking weeks rather than days to address.
At a recent Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee meeting, ECan promoted its compliance efforts by stating that it got better results by talking to land users rather than being overly strict on enforcement.
Mr Isitt understands the merits of working with land users. “However, in reality, ECan’s approach to controlling serious or repeated breaches of stock access and the resulting degradation of waterways has at best been casual and permissive and at worst negligent,” he adds.
“It is clear from these findings that ratepayer-funded Ecan has failed to adequately protect our streams, rivers and lakes from the negative effects of heavy stock damage,” Mr Isitt says.
“ECan now claim that stock damage in waterways is their top ‘compliance’ priority, yet we see an obvious lack of annual funding and staff to carry out this work in an expedient manner.
“This makes a mockery of the claimed successes under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, when you don’t enforce the fundamental rules in your regional plans”.
Fish and Game knows New Zealanders value their streams, rivers, lakes and sports fishery highly, he says.
“The compounding negative effect of intensive land use practice on our streams, rivers and lakes is undeniable, and was a key factor in our decision to close the winter sports fishery east of State Highway One in North Canterbury. ”
It is time to put ECan on notice that it must account for its failure to properly protect these waterways, and turn over a new leaf, he says.
Mr Isitt says he intends to have a frank and honest discussion with ECan’s appointed commissioners and will be seeking assurances that some positive changes will be made so that breaches of stock access rules are properly dealt with from here on.
A copy of the report can be viewed here: