Media Release

Stop the Open Season on Farmers

May 4, 2017

An open letter to anglers, hunters and farmers - it's time for meaningful discussion:

This Saturday (6 May) thousands of farmers will open their properties up to hunters for the opening of the 2017 duck shooting season. Throughout the year farmers provide access to waterways across their properties - to enable anglers the opportunity of catching trout.

Farmers, often in partnership with their local fish and game folk, have spent significant time and money creating and restoring wetland habitats. Strong friendships have been established between hunters/anglers and landowners. In recognition of this partnership, resident landowners and their families do not need a Fish and Game licence to shoot or fish on their own properties.

In some regions the Fish and Game licence revenue has been used to make the life of landowners that much more difficult. As a result, some Fish and Game licence holders may not face the same friendly welcome by their farmer friends this year.

In the Horizons region, for example, Wellington Fish and Game took the regional council to court on a legal technicality - ignoring the wishes of the wider community and in the face of the fact that improvements in water quality are being achieved. This move will simply add cost for dubious environmental benefit.

In the Hawke’s Bay your local Fish and Game Council is seeking an extremely broad definition for a wetland that will severely restrict farmers’ ability to farm wet paddocks.

Many farmers are over the constant claims that New Zealand has terrible water quality and farmers are largely at fault when in fact 80% of New Zealand’s waterways are stable or improving and all communities - across rural and urban - are part of the problem and therefore need to be part of the solution.

A significant number of individual Fish and Game licence holders support our farmers, but need to speak louder. Please acknowledge the great fishing and shooting experiences you enjoy and work with farmers to identify and address water quality issues where they exist.

We urge all Fish and Game licence holders to support the men and women who support you in providing access to great fishing and hunting experiences and encourage their organisation to work with, not against, the farming community. Don’t let the opportunities be lost by undermining farmers’ generosity.

Have a safe and successful opening day

Chris Allen

Federated Farmers of NZ National Board Member

Environment, Water, Pest Management and Biodiversity