Dairy industry efforts to restore the Mangere River catchment have to be matched by beef farmers to be effective, says Environment River Patrol Aotearoa kaitiaki Millan Ruka.
Ruka, who has studied the Mangere River for 4.8km from its confluence with the Wairua River to past the Knights Rd bridge, found ample evidence that beef cattle with access to the river were detrimentally affecting water quality in the Mangere catchment, the Wairua River, the Northern Wairoa River and the Kaipara harbour.
"Unfenced beef and dairy cattle are a major cause of sedimentation that smothers the life of the harbour," he says in a report sent to the Northland Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Fonterra, Northland Federated Farmers and the Whangarei District Council.
"Excrement and urine foul the banks and water where cattle graze the riparian area and drink from the watercourses."
Ruka says it is unacceptable that beef and dairy have different rules on river access. "The dairy industry is tarnished by the beef industry not matching best practice 'stock exclusion' from waterways.'
He wants the regional council to provide GIS mapping of "stock exclusion fencing", or the lack of it.
"Fonterra have a detailed GIS fencing system but it is not made public and there is no apparent collaboration with the Northland Regional Council.
"We, the public, hapu, iwi, have no idea who is compliant and who is not."
The new 2013 Clean Stream Accord outcomes are in corporate hands, with no public access to audit and moderate the goals and criteria being addressed," Ruka says.
"The dairy industry self-assess themselves and beef farmers are not assessed at all."
"The council must perform their statutory role - to monitor the environment, not leave it to self-management."
Ruka says it is time for the council to have contractors doing the work now carried out by Environment River Patrol Aotearoa.
"Contractors should be well resourced for the task, given the rules of compliance and monitoring left to them."