Recently on the same day a South Island reader emailed me to thank TRM for being so responsible in the critical content of our reports, another regular TRM inmate criticized us – straight up – asking why the ‘tone’ and ‘message’ of the Daily Reports has gradually changed?
The South Islander said it was too late to save most of their trout and salmon rivers now – his favourite river is now diverted into irrigating dairy farms, etc.. He raved about the permanent environmental damage done by ECan (Environment Canterbury) to their rivers and the mess they are leaving for the next generation. We understand.
The North Islander wanted more local Tongariro fishing updates. He had noticed the progression from local Tongariro River fishing reports towards more emphasis on conservation matters – such as the recent trout farming conversion for local iwi at the trout centre, the Taupo carp farm, and now the clean water and irrigation debates.
Fair comment. We can’t win. We were just impressed that the daily reports content was regarded so seriously. As we cannot blame SWMBO for this trend, we should elaborate…
He is probably correct that TRM report content have moved slightly away from the continuous updates of TRM inmates’ huge trophy trout caught on the Tongariro to other more controversial wider issues. I would like to pretend that this is a direct reflection of feedback but suspect I am guilty for the shift in emphasis. It was not a planned strategy. It just happened.
It is more because we are at an important turning point throughout NZ regarding the need for wider protection of water and the natural environment. It is sad to have to even say that. To my dismay over the last decade I realised we can no longer rely on the paid officials from traditional local or regional Councils or Government Departments to protect it for us. They have proved their incompetence. They have already continually failed fresh water anglers and so many others concerned with water environment issues. They deserve all the criticism.
Some of this deterioration of the fishy environment may be due to anglers’ apathy together with the lack of any effective criticism from social fishing clubs and other advocate organisations. Councils realise that anglers do not have a strong voice or reliable lobby group in the wider Taupo region and exploit this weakness. The only fishing club in Turangi – TALTAC – Tongariro and Lake Taupo Anglers Club – is made up of ‘absentee’ anglers who live out of the region so never get involved in such controversial issues. They were described by their members as more of an anglers backpackers club. How many other motels blogs comment on the worsening situation?
But if anglers are to protect our back country environment and maintain our rapidly diminishing 100% pure water for the future generations then we all have no choice but to get motivated and stand up and protest against the decline in water quality and loss of fishing rivers and all the other risks from commercial irrigation schemes, etc. threatening the natural environment.
It is past the time to say stop! When the government needs a National Policy Statement for Freshwater then it has already gone too far. When Councils have to define what ‘swimmable’ water is and where to find it, then we know we have to get concerned. Some local authorities are facing up to it. Wairarapa Water have the right motto – “People before Profits”… But far too many others are guilty of neglect and favouring business interests first.
We continually hear from our overseas guests in particular that there are so many unfortunate precedents overseas to learn from, – particularly in Australia and USA – yet they are disregarded and NZ continues making the same mistakes. So if we have any genuine pride in our country and the remaining natural amenities then it is time for action to protect it forever.
The public response – people power – to stop the proposed Taupo carp farm was wonderful. That is just the start. This momentum – for the community to investigate and communicate their determination to stop the authorities from sneaking through such non-notified projects – must continue. Any further projects posing risks to the remaining natural environment cannot be justified any more.
During the last ten years composing these reports I have mentioned the Great NZ Trek now in its eleventh year. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QqWzXMp5uw) This has allowed me the privilege of hiking, riding or biking across so many back-country farms for the last ten years. Six years ago I rode most of the way through over more than 40 farms crossing many streams and rivers in this central North Island region only to discover to my horror every one was polluted.
All the rivers in that year, every single one, was dirty beyond belief.
After several years criss-crossing other regions of the back country the extent of the destruction of so many water ways eventually dawned on me.
The realisation was that if we are to leave any decent fresh water fishing for future generations we will need to stand up and fight to protect the remainder.
OK – I know this could be misconstrued as TRM is in the tourist business providing accommodation for anglers, but it was not from any personal profitable motive.
It was from a guilty complex that I had allowed such deterioration to continue over the last decade without doing anything to protest about it. I admit, I was a slow learner. But eventually my conscience won – it was time to get slightly political and use TRM reports to spread the word for the need for more environmental awareness.
More recently I have had three annual trips to the South Island fishing spots only to discover to my horror so many dead streams and rivers, dried up alongside irrigation canals feeding sprinklers on so many farms. The beneficiaries of this water called it economic progress? But at some stage we all have to become more aware and realise it has gone too far.
In this wonderful country we have never been so fortunate with the ability to express such concerns on the concept of free speech through the internet. Every week a few thousand lost souls dial up TRM hoping we might reveal secrets of where huge Tongariro trophy trout are hiding or what they are taking…
But sometimes you might be horrified to learn we don’t know either. She doesn’t let me out of the laundry often enough so we have to rely on unreliable feedback from TRM inmates. But some anglers can be sneaky and not tell us. So at those times, rather than guess, we have used the opportunity to spread the word on environmental issues – that we need to be more alert and on our guard to stop any further deterioration to the fishery. We feel it is our duty. OK?
When we start digging under the surface ‘spin’ aka BS, we were appalled at the attitude of those who are paid to promote conservation. Without being too specific the recent carp farm fiasco proved that those who anglers rely on to protect their fishery simply cannot be relied on.
Times have changed.
Few officials have the courage of their convictions to consider the long term environmental impacts. They have a vested interest in progress at any cost.
So we do not think we should apologise to the complainant for the increase in gentle political persuasion of environmental concerns, for anglers to become more aware and active as the ‘horse has already bolted’ ? We acknowledge he has a good point but we will continue to report on whatever comes to mind each morning that we believe will be of interest to TRM inmates and the wider fresh water fishing community. Fair enough?
We welcome your input on this…
Another article on water quality standards just arrived:
A Horizons Regional councillor has questioned what ‘swimmable’ water standards actually mean.
The council’s Annual Plan submissions hearing opened on Tuesday where the Palmerston North City Environment Trust were first to speak.
In the Trust’s submission, chairman Brent Barrett requested stronger implementation of the council’s One Plan and other measures to ensure steady improvement of all local waterways to a swimmable standard.
Palmerston North councillor Murray Guy took the opportunity to question Barrett on what swimmable actually meant and if it could be quantified.
*Swimmable waterways would ‘destroy the livelihood’ of Manawatu
*Making every water body swimmable is ‘not practical’ – Nick Smith
“I am struggling with some comments in the media and some comments from yourself with regards to what you say is a swimmable standard. Can you please tell me what is a swimmable standard? So that this council and other councils and the government can have a goal that isn’t just words.”
Guy has previously stated that he believed that setting swimmable waterway standards would destroy the livelihood of the Manawatu.
The government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater states that a swimmable standard would be a very low risk of infection from e.coli – less than 0.1 per cent – from contact with water during activities with occasional immersion and some ingestion of water.
The wadeable standard comes from a bottom line set in the policy of a ‘moderate risk of infection’ – less than five per cent risk.
Barrett said he was not the appropriate person to answer that, given he was not a freshwater scientist.
“There are a number of freshwater scientists in this country that would be much better placed to put the specific metrics about what swimmable means.
“But as a goal it is exactly where this region and this country should be going.”
Guy said the council had no problem with water improvement.
“In fact this council stands on its record through the One Plan as having set some reasonable standards.
“What I’m struggling with is this common banter of a swimmable standard and it seems to be unquantifiable.
“That’s why I’m asking you if you can help us in terms of giving us a quantifiable standard for something to be swimmable.”
Barrett reiterated that he did not have the right background, but pointed to the World Health Organisation as a starting point.
The government has recently been consulting on its policy statement, where it has set a standard of wadeable waterways. Public consultation closed last week.
Environment Minister Nick Smith has defended the standard saying it was “not practical” to have a legal requirement for every water body in New Zealand to be swimmable.
Smith has also said he believes that not all waterways in the country have always been swimmable.
Barrett’s submission was otherwise largely supportive of the council’s work, though the Trust urged for it to “lift its game”.
Fellow Palmerston North councillor Pat Kelly was happy to see Barrett had such an approach.
“When I read through your submission it seemed to be very supportive of what we are doing.”