The Hearings into the RDR resource consent concluded in May, we now await the decision…
It really is “Theft”
by Rex N GibsonI recently presented a submission on behalf of the N.Z. Federation of Freshwater Anglers to Environment Canterbury on their Long Term Plan. I will not repeat it all here. It is a matter of public record and accessible on ECan’s website.I also went along and spoke to the submission. I was supported by Larry Burke, the new President of N.Z. Salmon Anglers Association. We emphasised the need to value conserving water volumes as well as repairing water quality. As you can predict the reception was varied among the councilors. Subsequent private conversations with some who were present have confirmed this. It is clear that the issues which concern fisher folk polarise the good people of ECan.We were firm, but I do not think we were rude. Perhaps “rudeness” would get us noticed but it is always a matter of juggling the benefits of a “satisfying statement” with those of an “effective statement”. Like most of my colleagues I have a deep seated hope that a return to democracy for ECan in the 2019 elections will be the start of our region’s (country’s) “water recovery”. Only a return to the National’s unsustainable water policies could derail this.
The last government took the position that water belonged to nobody. I have always promoted the view that the water belongs to everybody. In 2017 I circulated to the Federation executive members a statement from the IWI Leaders’ Group Chair that also supported this view. It seemed that only the National led government was out of step. They are now history, but nobody seems to have told ECan. The older readers will know what I mean when I suggest that the inertia that was characterised by Sir Humphrey Appleby’s management, in T.V.’s “Yes Minister”, has infected the staff there.
If water belongs to us all, then why is one industry allowed to purloin it without meaningful restriction, and then spray it around, “willy nilly”, whenever it suits them? Every person who has driven around Canterbury has seen irrigators working in 30 degree nor’ west days when evaporation is at its maximum. I guess when each irrigator section costs in excess of $50,000 many industrial dairy farm operators feel that they need to use them to their maximum capacity.
We often hear the terms “institutionalised racism”, “institutionalised Sexism”, etc., but I will use the term “institutionalised theft” when it comes to OUR water.
Most people have got concerned about the water bottling issue, including me, but there are farms in ECan’s territory that use more that all the regions water bottling enterprises combined. They would have been laughing into the G & T when the public got side-tracked on the bottling issue.
The water situation is simple for fisherfolk. It needs to be in a continuous flow if the food chains that sustain our target fish are to flourish. The fishers once considered it a right. For the dairy industry their flow of water is also seen to be a right, even if not needed. The rye grass monoculture gets “sprayed” even when not needed in many cases. Deliberate wastage or “loss by negligence” is theft of the resource in my understanding.
In March 2017 I wrote an article entitled “Where has all the water gone”. It was reproduced in six fishing publications across the country. A key point in this was that ECan’s 26 coastal rivers in February 2017 had a total flow of just 18 Cumecs; that is equivalent to 18 bath tubs of water spread across the 26 rivers. Canterbury has a population of about half a million and another million or so tourists visiting the region each year. Even Nick Smith’s manipulation of definitions could not fit 500,000+ people into 18 bath tubs of “swimmable” water. The trout and salmon certainly could not get a look in here either.
As a comparison the Wairau, Oreti, Mataura, Taieri and Motuka each also had more than these 26 Canterbury rivers combined flow.
Below: Note the CPW pipe size;
In their latest Annual Report, the Central Plains Water scheme states that it extracted 52 million cumecs of water from the Rakaia River alone in the year. CPW is just one source of the great water theft. Their Rakaia extraction is almost six times what those 26 Canterbury rivers, mentioned above, had left in their February flow. The next photo shows the pipes snaking across the plains;
I have written and spoken elsewhere about why realistic minimum flows are necessary; gravel movement, aeration, maintenance of the food webs , and maintenance of water temperatures that are cool enough to sustain life, have all been covered. It is now time to again question that right of industries to just “help themselves” to our water. Were you asked if you agreed to this misappropriation by ECan, and other regional authorities around the country, to favoured parties?
Below: The pipes are finally buried and out of sight;
Vancouver Island and Roderick Haig-Brown
by Tony OrmanI can’t resist dropping into a second hand book shops when I’m travelling or to the local one here in Blenheim. Naturally I head for the fishing and hunting section and recently in Blenheim I picked up for just $8 a copy of “Fishing the River of Time” by Tony Taylor. It tells of the author’s experiences fishing with his grandson on Vancouver Island. In preparing himself at age 80, go take his eight year old grandson fishing.Much the book is the lead-up to meeting his grandson. In the prelude, Tony Taylor reflects on fishing and what it is really all about. He recalls past fishing on the island with warmth and reflective wisdom. Trout fishing is not just about catching a trout but the total experience of going fishing.I’m a keen sports follower but from being a keen rugby player and loving the game I now can take it or leave it, as I dislike the new found arrogance and physical aggression. Professional sport has brought arrogance and even cheating, deceit and deception, e.g.Australian cricketers ball tampering. Tony Taylor abhors how professional sport generally seems to bring out the worst of human character behaviour. In contrast, fishing (and deerstalking) are, as befitting amateur sports, pastimes of good human qualities – well mostly. Killing may be part of fishing and hunting if you choose to kill a trout or if you’re a hunter, shoot a deer but as Tony Taylor observed “ people who occasionally kill something like a deer or a fish tend to be more reverent toward life.”I found much to agree with the author. For instance “A fisherman has to be an optimist: perhaps this is more important than catching fish.” Or his criticism of the modern “high tech” gadgetry.
“If anyone asks me why I don’t use more modern gear, I usually say it’s too expensive for me. I don’t tell them that most of the time it doesn’t do what the advertiser says it will and if it does one becomes guilty of overkill. It’s like using an elephant gun to shoot rabbits: it’s showing off.”” A hundred years ago anglers were obsessed with numbers but today its size. The truth is neither is important, but fishing is.” And so on.
A good book like “Fishing the River of Time” is good for a dour damp drizzly winter’s night. Its mention of Vancouver Island conjured up memories of Roderick Haig-Brown’s books. Haig-Brown was so classy as a writer. If you haven’t read them, seek out Roderick Haig-Brown’s wonderful “A River Never Sleeps”. His others are great too such as “Fisherman’s Summer”, “Fisherman’s Winter” and “Fisherman’s Fall.” To get a copy or copies, search second hand bookshops or try googling and perhaps seek out sellers like Amazon?
Roderick Haig-Brown was an avid fly-fisher, pioneering conservationist, acclaimed author and magistrate. His writing – 25 books and well over 200 articles and speeches – have influenced fisheries biologists, ecologists and countless others interested in the evolving relationship between people and nature. Haig-Brown was born in England in 1908, and came to Canada in 1926 at the age of 19, and initially worked in logging on eastern Vancouver Island. He then worked for a period in the state of Washington, where he met his wife to be, Ann Elmore, who he married in 1934. They moved to Campbell River on Vancouver Island in 1936. The river property was ideal for the pursuits they enjoyed, particularly as Roderick was a devoted fly fisherman. He not only loved fishing, but was concerned about the welfare of the fish in the river and the ruffler itself, especially when Campbell River was experiencing a period of growth and new projects like a hydro dam were in the offing and were threatening the natural environment.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, Haig-Brown is a favourite author of mine. Haig-Brown fought for the environment, for rivers and their fish. In 1965 in a barn-storming speech, he publicly targeted short-sighted politicians and government. He told the Canadian Authors Association at Victoria’s Empress Hotel that he was appalled at “the shoddy, uncaring development of our natural resources, the chamber of commerce mentality which favors short-term material gain over all other consideration, the utter contempt for human values of every kind.” By any measure, Roderick Haig-Brown was a strong and visionary voice against those who were ignorant of the ideals of conservation. As one tribute said, he listened to what the rivers and forests –ultimately what the salmon and other fish told him was to love and care for this finite planet;
“Man must make himself small and humble to live within it rather than a ruthless giant to conquer it,” he said.