'Proactive' stand for quality of Otago water

Ray Grubb
Ray Grubb
Fish and Game Otago's plan to get proactive and make a stand for good water quality is ''justified and overdue'', Otago council member Ray Grubb says.

Fish and Game will put its draft sports fish and game management plan for Otago out for public consultation today.

Similar to the Otago Regional Council's regional plan and Dunedin City Council's district plan, Fish and Game's is its blueprint for the next 10 years and has similar standing in statute as those of territorial local authorities.

''If you do something to a river or waterway, every statutory plan applies. That is why this management plan is so important, especially with [land use] intensification. Someone has to take a position,'' Mr Grubb said.

The reviewed plan showed a fundamental shift in Fish and Game thinking as it set out to use the 150 years of records the organisation had on the state of the region's rivers to build a database and then determine for itself the optimum state for those rivers, which could be different from that of the regional council, he said.

''The regional council decides how much water can be taken out. We decide how much should be left in.''

The aim was for those standards to be set before the regional council proposed and consulted on its standards such as minimum flows.

''Fish and Game will decide for itself what the best water quality and quantity should be, using historical data and science; an independent perspective in a sense.''

The plan also made developing closer relationships through memorandums of understanding with organisations such as the regional council and the Department of Conservation a priority.

It also saw itself as working with and possibly helping co-ordinate other recreational groups, he said.

Another issue the draft plan targeted was access to waterways on paper roads and the need for those roads to be recognised by councils.

It was not just a document for anglers and hunters but anyone interested in water should read, he said''It's a real problem. Water quality effects everybody.''

Under the Conservation Act the draft plan would be open for public consultation for 40 working days to March 28 and a hearing would be held.

The Minister of Conservation had final approval of the plan.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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