An outdoors lobby group has joined the campaign against a proposed ban on power boats on Kai Iwi Lakes, saying the move could spell the end of the lakes' popular trout fishery.
Northland Fish & Game wants anglers who fish Kai Iwi Lakes, north of Dargaville, to support the trout fishery it says will be under threat if Kaipara District Council (KDC) proposal goes ahead.
After a recent review into the Taharoa Domain Reserve Management Plan 2002, a suggested bylaw (the Draft Kai Iwi Lakes (Taharoa Domain) Bylaw 2015) has been drawn up by the council and has being put out for consultation alongside the Draft Kai Iwi Lakes (Taharoa Domain) Reserve Management Plan 2015. If approved, the bylaw will ban the use of power boats in the Taharoa Domain catchment and rid the lakes of recreational water sports from as early as 2018.
This could spell ruin for the Kai Iwi Lakes Water Ski Club, which has been on the Lake Waikare shoreline for more than 40 years and holds annual competitions at the lake.
The plan also sparked a protest that saw a convoy of towed boats stretch 1.2km through Dargaville earlier this month.
Taharoa Domain Governance Committee chairman Peter Winder said the core of the draft plan is to protect and enhance the environment, while making the lakes and domain accessible for a variety of activities and recreation.
But Fish & Game Northland manager Rudi Hoetjes said it is imperative that anglers put in submissions strongly supporting the lakes' trout fishery before a Kaipara District Council deadline on March 22.
"The ban on motorised craft alone would deal a severe blow to older or disabled anglers and families who fish together on the lake. This needs full research and a great deal more consultation. There needs to be serious consideration of the potentially harmful impacts, both ecological and economic."
The lakes are New Zealand's most northern significant rainbow trout lake fishery, which has been used for decades by locals, families and visitors. Power boats were needed to restock them with trout.
"Without regular stocking the fishery will collapse in three years with a resulting loss to the tourism sector, as anglers contribute to the local economy through fish-related spending on accommodation, food and fishing equipment. The fishery has no natural spawning so stocking is needed and without it the fishery would simply disappear," he said.
"There could also be some very serious environmental consequences ... trout have a crucial role in eating the introduced pest species, mosquito fish, which would otherwise severely impact on native species like galaxids."
Mr Hoetjes said Fish & Game has called experts including fisheries scientists and lawyers as it puts together its submission to the KDC.