Veteran US angler Howard West says all the NZ govt had to do, to avert the angling crisis, was to live up to their ‘green and pristine, marketing promise. But they have not.

In his second article on the threat to trout fishing in NZ (see Part One, 5/8/18), Howard says; “Instead it seems that greed has gone wild, as it also has in the US. How can any rational government official expect that anglers successful enough to afford long NZ trips will be foolish enough to pay to be poisoned by E.coli and 1080 while watching the fishing quality of their favourite streams rapidly decline?

Slower fishing is one thing, but wondering if the water and food is safe is an ultimate level of concern. There is a tried and true axiom of investing, “money goes where it is treated best” and that applies doubly for serious fly fishers. The activity of fishing with a kayak is also a very fun activity these days as it enables one to get a better catch.

NZ used to have it all

NZ used to have it all as the top trout fishing destination before the dairy business and 1080 poisoning impact became the new normal. Now, the gap has dynamically closed with other trout destinations which you can view here, such as Argentina or the American West for example. Fear of being poisoned will do that!

For the more uninformed about the toxin and environmental problems, the continuing decline of the fishery alone will send NZ hurtling down the Top Ten list of fly fishing destinations in a shockingly short period of time. You can also get fly rods weights for a better fishing experience.

Reputations formed over decades can be ruined in a blink of time … and would cost a fortune to restore. Once the slide gathers force, how will the government predict revenue from this affluent tourist sector. It will take many of the typical Asian tourists to make up for the loss of only one big spending angler … who tend to come every year as I did.

The death of insects

After experiencing the death of insects last season, both land aquatic and land born … only one windscreen splat driving from Christchurch to Twizel on a sunny summer day … and profoundly fewer mayflies, to the point of being non-existent on some of the W. Coast streams, where they had been prolific for the past several seasons.

I am concerned because trout need robust aquatic insect populations to thrive.

The streams themselves have also changed.

Weed growth in some streams, has resulted in formerly beautiful finely graveled stream bottoms being so weed choked that they are very difficult to wade, let alone land a decent fish in. The bottom line  — decidedly not the kind of experience that seasoned anglers will waste their time and money on … and forget return visits.

Regrettably that and the willow explosion are not the only cautions. Excessive dairy runoff has caused the aquatic weed growth to explode.

Ethical questions face NZ

Looking deeper into the shadows behind the NZ marketing curtain, which makes a very strong promise of clean and pristine water, I am now finding out, beyond what I have personally experienced, that there are severe ethical challenges facing NZ.

It is scary to learn what a nasty toxin 1080 is and what a huge threat it is to the sport I love, let alone to my personal health that this may very well be my last trip to NZ I will not pay to be poisoned as a result of environmental decisions that disregard the facts and which can only be motivated by greed which puts personal gain ahead of the personal health of the people they are charged with protecting.

As history teaches, and my 30 years of consumer marketing, what the consumers hate most is when a product doesn’t live up to its brand promise and when it doesn’t they become the opposite of an advocate … a brand shark. They attack at every opportunity.

NZ is your paradise too, but the difference for me is that I don’t have to live there, drink the poisoned water, or eat the toxin contaminated food. You likely do.

My kids won’t be asking me where the birds and insects have gone ….or why they can’t swim in the local streams or lakes anymore.

Yours may or your neighbor’s kids will. What will they think when they learn that you are part of the reason why?

It is amazing how we often need the validation of overseas observers before we accept what is happening right in front of us. It brings to mind the old cliche that you do not value what you have got until it is gone; in this case “going”. The sooner we move towards a pesticide free NZ the better. Mr Rex

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