"Breathing estuaries aren't nice-to-have things. More than just an indicator of how we're doing environmentally they're really important ecosystems in themselves. Ask the fishing industry.
"We seriously need to turn the figures around. And we haven't. That is scary."In 2011 the Southland Times made water quality the foremost election issue and over the last three years things have probably got worse. This National led Government has possibly overseen one of the most environmentally degrading periods that this country has ever seen. It has cleverly limited the extent of the damage through blocking any independent public reporting.
In 2012 Eugenie Sage joined me in highlighting the degradation of our local estuaries after recent research revealed the enormity of the problem.
I wrote a letter in support of the editorial because this is something we can't ignore and the price of providing China with milk powder shouldn't include our most important ecosystems:
I appreciated the editorial (June 20) ‘Time for action to save our Estuaries’. In 2011 The Southland Times made water quality the most important issue of the local campaign due to the wide spread concern about the quality of our rivers.
After research was published in 2012 we discovered that our estuaries are eutrophying at frightening rate. This is concerning not only because we are losing important natural habitats, but estuaries are also the nurseries for many of our commercial fish.
The National led Government has no intention of doing anything substantial in addressing our shocking water quality statistics when bottom lines only require that quality shouldn’t get any worse and that rivers should be safe to wade in without endangering health (90% are polluted now).
The $20 million over four years to help improve water quality is only a token gesture when the Government has set aside $400 million to support the intensification of dairy farming.
The Government also stopped the five yearly independent environment reports (the last was in 2007) and has dictated that any future reporting will be done under their direction. It is clear that they do not want the truth to be known.
The Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has voiced concern about the on going weakening of environmental reporting and the poor regulation of damaging industries.
Environmental degradation should not be seen as acceptable collateral damage in support of economic growth. We desperately need to shift to an honest economy that recognises the external costs of polluting industries and build a cleaner future.
Green Party Candidate for Invercargill