Fish & Game is applauding the Cawthron Institute's launch of a new charitable foundation to improve New Zealand's water quality but questions why such vital work is being left to charities.
The Cawthorn Foundation aims to provide philanthropic funding and support for what it sees as essential research on land, fresh water and marine environments. The new foundation's trust board will be chaired by the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams.
Dr Williams says the foundation will focus on key issues New Zealanders care deeply about, such as having clean water to swim in or drink, and ensuring healthy ecosystems for fish to thrive.
Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson welcomes the Cawthron initiative.
"New Zealand needs more such foundations dedicated to the public good and there is no greater good than clean water and the natural environment."
But Mr Johnson questions why ensuring the country has clean water is being left to charities like the Cawthron Foundation and environmental groups like Fish & Game.
"People, the environment and the economy cannot thrive without clean water, yet the quality of our rivers, streams and lakes is continuing to decline. It is not good enough that some waterways are only fit to wade in or boat on, which is one of the unacceptably low standards currently set by the government.
"It is not too much to expect that future generations should be able to swim in their rivers and lakes, and that they should be able to drink our water and harvest food from it. Unfortunately, the current reality is different and vested interests are dirtying our birth right and creating a polluted legacy for future generations," Mr Johnson says.
Bryce Johnson says the government, local authorities and the agriculture industry need to provide greater leadership.
"We know what the problems are and we know what the solutions are. The government has been given years of scientific advice and hundreds of recommendations from its own advisors such as its Land and Water Forum and it is time it acted decisively.
"Freshwater is the major environmental issue facing the country and we need action, particularly from the agriculture sector.
"Agriculture leaders need to take far greater responsibility for the environmental performance of its own producers," he says.
Mr Johnson says Fish & Game looks forward to working alongside the new foundation.
"Cawthron has some great scientists and we welcome the opportunity to work with them to ensure that in the very near future, New Zealand's environment will be in better shape than we found it."