Free speech is a gift and the singleminded positions of John Robinson and Warren Sutton (Letters, 3 Oct) on whitebaiting in the Waikanae estuary must be respected.
With free speech comes a responsibility to balance it with fact and the writers are encouraged to read a damning independent report on the degraded state of the estuary (Google: Waikanae Estuary Broad Scale Habitat Mapping Report).
In a specific reference to whitebait numbers, the report says “the results highlight that historical habitat loss through the displacement and reclamation of saltmarsh, seagrass, and a densely vegetated terrestrial margin have been the most significant modifications to the estuary, with a consequent reduction in the ecological value of these important habitat features, including their ability to assimilate sediment and nutrient inputs and provide supporting habitat to birds and fish, particularly whitebait.”
So, perhaps Messrs Robinson and Sutton, once having read the report, might be less astringent about the comparatively insignificant effects of whitebaiters and more usefully turn their energies into establishing how an estuary dying through smothering mud and huge loss of habitat might be restored to good health.
They could usefully challenge DoC, the KCDC, and GWRC on (a) how they have allowed this degradation to happen since the scientific reserve was established in 1992, and (b) what they are going to do to salvage a dying estuary.
Interestingly, none of the authorities have disputed the findings of the Habit Mapping report, no restoration plans have been publicly produced, and there has been no public consultation on finding solutions.
Primary reliance on restoration has so far been left to the heroes of the Waikanae Estuary Care Group and Friends of the Waikanae River who have voluntarily undertaken extensive planting.
CHRIS TURVER Waikanae Estuary Whitebaiters Network