A 1080 drop over a West Coast river broke no rules, operators say.
Murchison-based fishing guide Scott Murray said hundreds of 1080 pellets were dropped from helicopters as he and other fishing parties were on the Mokihinui River, north of Westport, on December 2.
Murray said many pellets landed in the river and some landed on him and his American clients who were appalled by the operation.
“[My client] talked about whether it was even worth coming back to NZ. He said he thought this was clean, green NZ. The rest of the world is shocked at the fact we use this bloody crap basically. It makes me quite angry just thinking about it.”
The aerial drop was carried out by contractors completing pest control work for the Department of Conservation’s Battle for our Birds programme and primary industries organisation Ospri’s TBfree programme.
In a statement Ospri said details of the incident were unclear as no report had been received. It said all 1080 application operations were clearly regulated under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act and consents were issued by appropriate authorities including the Ministry of Health.
No breaches of consents in the Mokihinui operation had been recorded.
Ospri said the timing and location of aerial operations was notified to all land users and operators in the region, and was publicly available. Factsheets containing maps detailing the location and boundaries of the operation, which covered 46,000 hecatres, were published, and there were also public notices.
Ospri said tourism concessionaires were provided with operational maps and details on the planned timeframes, including contact details for the contractor.
For the Mokihinui operation, concessionaires were notified on three separate occasions. The operation was completed on December 2.
Murray, co-owner of Murchison’s River Haven Lodge, said he had been notified that a 1080 drop would take place in the Mokihinui catchment, but were also told that the operators would be careful to avoid the waterways.
He said the drops continued throughout the day, and with a strong north-westerly wind blowing, there was no way to control the spread of pellets.
During a break for lunch, he fished out about nine pellets from the river, and saw others in deeper water, but gave up because there were too many.
“All I want to do is get the word out there that people think this 1080 thing is carefully placed and dropping it from the air into the bush. They’re not. New Zealand really needs to wake up, it’s an absolute abomination, it really is.”
“Word’s getting around that the NZ green image is getting tarnished. It’s not good for tourism.”
In 2014, two fishing guides caught up in a 1080 drop on the Mokihinui complained that they had not been notified of the operation despite holding permits requiring them be told.