Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, August 19th, 2016 - 78 comments
Categories: activism, Conservation, disaster, Environment, farming, Maori Issues, science, sustainability, water - Tags: #KiwiTreason, extinction, mana o te wai, water quality, whitebait
Whitebait season opened this week. Not for the last time. Yet.
“We’ve seen this increase in a number of our fresh water fishes becoming endangered. So 1990 20% of our forty native fishes were endangered. Now around 75% of them are endangered. We need to protect them so that they can be there for the future”.
“Mana o Te Wai is the term we use for the life force or the power of the river. Yes, it was the lifeblood of our people.
“All our marae are next to awa and we absolutely believe that it must be more than wadeable or swimmable, it must be drinkable – it is the food source and the lifeblood of our people and we need to restore that.”
We are living in a time of unparalleled environmental destruction: in one generation most of our freshwater fish have made the threatened species list and unless we act quickly they will be all but gone in another generation. As with most other environmental problems there is a lag period and we are now seeing the impacts of previous decades of unsustainable land-use hit home. Even if we stop the destruction right now and start protecting our freshwater ecosystems, these species’ declines will continue for some time.
To save our freshwater heritage we need amendments made to the freshwater fisheries regulations and to the Wildlife Act, and we must have effective regulations put in place in the agricultural sector. Government-employed and funded freshwater scientists’ hands are tied with political tape, meaning these changes must come from the people.
So rise up all those who want their grandchildren to see native fish and have swimmable rivers. Target the environment, fisheries, State-owned enterprises and conservation ministers, councils and Fonterra and tell them we refuse to accept the loss of our fish and our rivers.
We can have a strong farming industry and clean waters but not when the emphasis is on unlimited increases in production. There is a limit to what the land can produce sustainably and what waste the rivers can assimilate and that point has long since been passed in many parts of New Zealand.
Loss of spawning habitat: identify spawning sites, fence riparian strip, planting/maintenance, monitor success
Loss of adult habitat: restore fish passage at culverts, restore access, monitor success; fence and plant riparian zones, monitor success.