28 Nov 2013

Anglers abandon fishing spots as pollution bites

2:41 pm on 28 November 2013

Some anglers in Southland are turning their backs on their favourite fishing spots because of dairy pollution and Fish and Game says fencing off waterways is inadequate protection.

Much was made of the efforts dairy farmers are making towards fencing off their waterways at Fonterra's AGM in Southland this week.

Chairman John Wilson said farmers are striving to reduce their impact on the environment.

And chief executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra is working on an environmental plan that would see each of its supplying farms analysed to see how best to reduce its impact on the environment.

But some in Southland have already had enough.

Operations manager for Southland's Fish and Game branch Zane Moss says the dairy industry's rise in the region has been dramatic and so too its impact on the environment.

"You often hear the quote that dilution is the solution to pollution and that to a degree works on the large rain-fed, snow-fed rivers in Canterbury, but the rest of the country with relatively smaller rain-fed systems are much more vulnerable to the impacts of intensive agriculture and therefore nutrient loss."

Mr Moss says the main consequence of nutrient run off is algae blooms which change the make up of insect populations in rivers and therefore the variety of food available to fish.

Mr Moss hopes the dairy industry will start to farm smarter - with a softer impact on the environment - and he says that requires more than a fence.

He says he's sick of the farming community discrediting the science about water pollution.