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Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill slammed as 'dictatorial' and unnecessary

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 14 Jan 2019, 7:30AM
Photo / Stockxchng

Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill slammed as 'dictatorial' and unnecessary

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 14 Jan 2019, 7:30AM

A Government Bill aimed at better protecting freshwater fish is being slammed as "dictatorial" and unnecessary by the Recreational Fishing Council.

Hundreds of people have made submissions to the Fisheries Minister on the legislation, which aims to provide better protection for New Zealand's freshwater fish. 

The Government says the Indigenous Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill would allow the responsible minister to better address threats by filling gaps in the regulations and allowing the Fisheries Minister to close fisheries if he thinks it's necessary.

However, President of the Recreational Fishing Council Keith Ingram told Tim Dower, the Fisheries Minister already has the ability to close fisheries and doesn't need any new powers.

"We don't need new rules. He [the Fisheries Minister] has the ability to close fisheries for sustainability and he will always have that ability and he has that ability in freshwater so we don't need to introduce new powers."

Ingram said the lack of consultation in the new legislation is his main concern.

He said there are two key issues relating to the Bill.

"The first issues is whitebait and the second issues is trout. Now fair enough, whitebait need managing but to give the minister the arbitrary ability to close the fishery down, unless it's for sustainability, without consultation is a bit dictatorial."

"When we look at the trout fisheries, well it waves flags of concern where the environmentalists....they can suddenly wake up one day and say: 'Oh they are an introduced species, they are bad for our lakes and rivers we want to get rid of them'."

Ingram said New Zealand has some of the purest-bred trout in the world and they should be treated like natives.

"They have been isolated away from their mother source for so long now, they have been away from other influences and we have some of the best trout fisheries."

"You become a New Zealander after five years for Christ's sake...so I reckon these trout have their citizenship so leave them alone."

He said the commercialisation of trout is another concern.

"At the moment, because it isn't a commercial species, anyone trying to sell trout, it is illegal and it's easy to identify. The moment you have commercial trout of sale...suddenly you've got a value on our indigenous species where it's easier for those sectors of the community to go and rob fish than to rob the local dairy."

"DOC and the local rangers cannot control illegal fishing now in the trout fisheries so what would it be like if we have a commercial value to it."

For whitebait, Keith Ingram said the biggest issue is "habitat degradation".

"Whitebait is like all our fish species, the habitat degradation is our greatest concern. If we fixed up the habitat degradation from both rural industrialised run-off, and even in some cases to a lesser degree urban run-off, and stop destroying the habitats where they breed."

He said if we manage the people the trout and whitebait will look after themselves.

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