The Government's decision to reject commercial trout farming is a responsible move and will come as welcome news to the 150,000 freshwater anglers throughout the country, says Fish & Game New Zealand.
A recently released Government response to the Primary Production Committee has declined to review the legislation that prohibits trout farming, citing that there is no analysis on the benefits of farming trout or what risks it presents to the wild fishery.
New Zealand Fish and Game Council Chair Ray Grubb says he is encouraged that the Government has given serious consideration to the adverse impact on the recreational fishery that trout farming poses.
"Trout fishing is a highly valued recreation for so many New Zealanders, with family traditions stretching back generations, and is also of significant economic value to the country. New Zealand is widely recognised as the premier trout fishing destination in the world, something the country can genuinely be proud of," Mr Grubb says.
"During Covid restrictions and in the absence of international anglers, we've seen a significant increase in Kiwis buying angling licences and travelling around their own country fishing for trout. They contribute millions to the regions when accommodation and service providers are struggling and desperately need the income.
"It makes no sense putting at risk the recreational fishery, and all it contributes to the economy and people's wellbeing, as well as our international image, for questionable gains from commercial speculators."
Fish & Game is funded solely from the sale of licences to recreational anglers and hunters; it is the lead organisation fighting for water quality, clean rivers and lakes, and wetland habitat to the benefit of all New Zealanders, and both native and valued introduced species.
Mr Grubb says the move to reject trout farming is a responsible decision by the Government. Commercialisation would be inconsistent with the good work currently being undertaken on freshwater management and policy.
"Trout are an iconic clean water species and a healthy wild population in New Zealand is an ideal and important fit with our international brand."
Internationally, commercial trout and salmon farming has had disastrous impacts on wild populations, introducing disease and causing majority environmental degradation as well as contributing to poaching for the black market.
Currently, wild trout and salmon cannot be bought or sold in New Zealand and it remains illegal to farm trout.
- Fish and Game NZ
23 February 2021