Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Lock out fishers and hunters, farming magazine says

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A popular farming publication wants farmers to lock out fishers and hunters over what it calls an anti-dairying attitude by their governing body.

The editorial in the latest edition of Rural News was a blunt message to Fish and Game New Zealand - namely in answer to a recent independent survey the organisation commissioned.

The survey found that most respondents believed dairy farming had worsened the quality of fresh waterways, and that intensive dairying had gone too far.

Rural News, which has a readership of 175,000, said it was clear that the fishers' and hunters' governing body had "no respect or regard for the dairy farming sector, and therefore do not want to be associated with the farming sector - including hunting and fishing on their land".

Fish and Game issues around 150,000 hunting and fishing licences each year.

Farmers should "keep the gates locked" to all hunters and fishers until they could "convince their governing body to drop its adversarial approach to the farming sector and play a more constructive role in working hand-in-hand with the sector".

But Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said Rural News was "bashing the messenger, rather than trying to contemplate the message.

"All such an action would achieve is alienate urban anglers and hunters who, let's face it, are probably the most numerous members of urban New Zealand who interface with farmers and hence become rural New Zealand's best ambassadors back into the urban population." Other reports, including one by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment last year, had highlighted similar concerns with farming when it came to fresh waterways, Mr Johnson said.

Rural News editor David Anderson said most feedback had been pretty supportive but some people had complained.

Federation of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes said such a combative editorial could only seek to fuel a division between farmers and fishers. Mr Haynes said there was no argument that intensive agriculture, such as dairy, had a substantial environmental footprint.

"It's all about mitigation and some farmers are better at this than others."

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he was not particularly happy with Fish and Game, which he said seemed locked in a negative view of primary industries that farmers perhaps deserved quite a few years ago.

Dairy New Zealand chief executive Tim Mackle said his organisation acknowledged the newspaper's frustration, but could not back its call for a ban.

- NZ Herald

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