Something Fishy in Taupo

A letter from the Department of Conservation addressed to members of the Taupo Fishery Advisory Committee has been described as proposing trout farming by stealth. The leaked letter, dated June 5, states the Crown and the Tuwharetoa Hapu Forum on behalf of Ngati Tuwharetoa have signed an agreement in principle for the settlement of Ngati Tuwharetoa’s historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, which include redress proposals concerning the Tongariro National Trout Centre.

Bryce Johnson, chief executive of Fish & Game New Zealand, questions the constitutional basis for the inclusion in an historical Treaty of Waitangi claim when trout were not introduced to New Zealand until the late 1800s, long after the Treaty was signed.

Successive court cases have explicitly confirmed that trout, as an introduced species for sports fishing, are not a consideration under the Treaty, so where is the legal basis for this proposal? Mr Johnson asked.

According to the DoC letter, these include arrangements for Ngati Tuwharetoa to use a raceway and any other existing facilities not required by DoC and the ability to construct new facilities . . . for the purposes of raising trout to harvest for important occasions.

The letter, signed by Kim Alexander-Turia, DoC’s conservation services manager for Taupo Fishery, proposes that DoC work with Ngati Tuwharetoa cadets to develop the skills required to raise and harvest trout at the Tongariro National Trout Centre. “Kim Alexander-Turia,” eh? Now where have we heard the name Turia, before?

That’s democratic councils, trout and the fresh water. Now to connect the next dot – the sea water and the beaches . . . .

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