Free speech

Kapiti News - - Letters To The Editor -

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

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