Federation of Freshwater Anglers comes out swinging against freshwater regulations

The Federation says the rules fail to implement any meaningful measures.
The Federation says the rules fail to implement any meaningful measures. Photo credit: Getty

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers has come out swinging against the Government's new freshwater regulations, saying they fail to go far enough.

The rules, announced late last month, are aimed at cleaning up the nation's rivers and lakes and introduce a raft of measures to stop farm run-off entering waterways.

But president of the Federation of Freshwater Anglers Dr Peter Trolove says the new rules are not underpinned by effective regulations and enforcement.

"It is an action plan that fails to implement any meaningful measures to halt ongoing water pollution while taking care to cause minimal inconvenience to the polluters," Dr Trolove said on Monday.

"The balance of the action plan was kicked down the road for the next Government and/or for future generations."

The regulations came after a consultation period last year that received more than 17,500 submissions. 

Among the rules introduced was the prohibition of stock entering rivers or streams more than a metre wide and the requirement that fences on farms be located at least 3 metres from a waterway.

The plan places a cap of how much synthetic fertiliser can be used on farms, setting an initial limit of 190kgs/hectare/year set, with a review by 2023. It will not apply to vegetable growers.

Dr Trolove said given that less than 20 percent of dairy farmers use more than 190 kg/N/ha/year the change would have little effect.

His comments come just days after ACT leader David Seymour called for the new regulations to be put on hold while the country weathers the economic storm caused by COVID-19.

The regulations were, for the most part, well received by the rural sector, though controversy remains over the proposal to introduce a national bottom line for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in waterways.

Environmentalists say such a bottomline is crucial for protecting the health of the ecosystem, but farmers say it's not practical and disagree with the standard that has been proposed.

A decision on the DIN bottomline was delayed for 12 months, in order to allow for enough time to complete a thorough review of its economic and environmental impacts.

The Government allocated $700 million to help the rural sector and other groups implement the rules.