Water recreation tensions

Anglers want the Queenstown Lakes District Council to get its ducks in a row over recreation pressure on lakes and rivers.

Otago Fish and Game Council Environment Officer Nigel Paragreen said the district council needed to develop a cohesive long-term strategy with full community consultation.

"In a few short years, the amount of people wanting to swim, raft, boat, float and fish in our waterways has increased to the point where there are now clear concerns,'' he said.

"There's a limited amount of space and residents are getting worried about how adding more people and commercial activities will impact on their enjoyment or their safety in increasingly crowded areas.''

Mr Paragreen said he has approached the QLDC about creating a non-statutory guiding document.

It would detail community expectations for each body of water in the district, and what the environmental and safety limitations should be.

"We were told it wasn't really on the QLDC's radar at the moment.''

QLDC communications and engagement manager, Naell Crosby-Roe, confirmed it was ``not currently a planned project.''

Mr Crosby-Roe said: ``Council officers are aware of the increasing popularity of surface water recreational activities and will continue to use the existing tools to balance the needs of commercial operators providing valuable tourist attractions with those of residents who want to swim, fish, and boat.''

Those mechanisms are the District Plan, the Navigation Bylaw and the resource consent application process for commercial operators. The community is able to submit feedback through the District Plan, Mr Crosby-Roe said.

Mr Paragreen said the bylaw was safety-based and did not take into account visual and community amenity, while the District Plan process was too slow to address the change.

"The chapter looking at this issue was submitted two years ago, when it wasn't something we were necessarily talking about'', Mr Paragreen said, ``it'll take another 10 years for them to go through it again.''

Last week, Lakes Marina Projects announced it had begun building its $20million marina in the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, which could berth 187 boats.

Mr Paragreen said each body of water would have its own limitations. Raising the speed limit from the standard 5 knots on the Shotover River, for example, had massive tourism benefits. It is used by jet-boats.

However, the upper Clutha River, between Wanaka and Albert Town, and areas such as remote Timaru Creek, off Lake Hawea, and Paddock Bay, off Lake Wanaka, were more sensitive to change.

Almost 300 submissions were made over a proposal to lift speed limits on the upper Clutha River.

The decision is pending.



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