Science clear on freshwater quality and trout

Following claims that trout are responsible for the decline in New Zealand’s freshwater quality, scientists stepped forward to set the record straight.

In a speech last week, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson Lachlan McKenzie, accused introduced fish of contributing significantly to the declining water quality.

The Science Media Centre highlighted the reaction from freshwater scientists who felt the McKenzie’s speech grossly distorted the current understanding of freshwater ecology.

Resulting media coverage included:

NZPA (published in the Otago Daily Times, Nelson Mail and Hawke’s Bay Today): ‘Cows culprits, not trout, dairy head told’

Radio New Zealand: Scientists and anglers scoff at farmer claims, Trout blamed for waterway damage

Radio New Zealand (follow-up): Minster sides with scientists over trout and stouts

Dominion Post: Don’t blame trout, its dirty dairying

An excerpt:

The description by Federated Farmers’ outgoing dairy section head Lachlan McKenzie of trout as freshwater stoats, and his attempt to portray them as a danger to our waterways, is yet another attempt to shift the blame from where it should lie – with dirty dairying practices.

Dominion Post farming editor Jon Morgan (July 5) argues that Mr McKenzie will be missed and that it is a shame Federated Farmers will not have some way to tap into his expertise after his loss in the presidential election.

However, Mr McKenzie’s failed attempt to be elected to the top job suggests that the majority of federation members preferred the more level-headed approach of Bruce Wills, a farmer who, it appears, understands the importance of environmentally sustainable agriculture.

Holding Mr McKenzie up as some sort of hero for his absurd attempt to muddy the issues around New Zealand’s ailing water quality is pointless and serves no- one when we look at the pressing image problems emerging around our so- called “100% Pure” brand.