Call to value in­tro­duced species

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JONO ED­WARDS

FISH and Game is urg­ing the re­gional coun­cil to bet­ter value Otago’s ‘‘valu­able in­tro­duced species’’.

Otago Fish and Game Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cer Nigel Para­green spoke at an Otago Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing this week.

The coun­cil has been cre­at­ing a bio­di­ver­sity strat­egy, which places em­pha­sis on the pro­tec­tion and main­te­nance of na­tive species.

Mr Para­green said his or­gan­i­sa­tion ‘‘felt strongly’’ omit­ting valu­able in­tro­duced species from the plan cre­ated a gap.

‘‘Prac­ti­cally, it’s dif­fi­cult to man­ age ecosys­tems by only look­ing at sec­tions.’’

About 30,000 in­di­vid­u­als bought fish­ing and game li­cences, and many of the species tar­geted were in­tro­duced, he said.

He recog­nised some peo­ple were ‘‘ide­o­log­i­cally’’ op­posed to pro­tect­ing in­tro­duced species.

Na­tional poli­cies did recog­nise both na­tive and in­dige­nous species, Mr Para­green said.

Re­gional coun­cil se­nior pol­icy an­a­lyst Rachael Brown said the is­sue had been given ‘‘ex­ten­sive thought’’.

The is­sue was a ‘‘topic of hot de­bate’’ among stake­hold­ers, some of whom thought only na­tive species should be in­cluded.

While some points in the plan spec­i­fied na­tive species, oth­ers were pur­posely wider.

Hunted and fished in­tro­duced species were al­ready pro­tected by eco­nomic in­cen­tives, and some na­tive species were not, she said.

The coun­cil did not al­ter the plan based on Mr Para­green’s com­ments.

Pol­icy com­mit­tee chair­woman Gretchen Robertson said it was ‘‘fan­tas­tic’’ to get the plan fi­nalised, as the coun­cil worked hard to cre­ate it.

‘‘We’ve got a real chance in Otago to be re­ally some­thing spe­cial na­tion­ally.’’

A re­port on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the strat­egy will be brought to the coun­cil in the next two or three months.

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