Forest and Bird calls for a halt to commercial whitebaiting


Conservationists have called for an end to commercial whitebaiting as the season gets underway, saying four of the five native whitebait species are in danger of extinction.

The whitebaiting season runs from today until November 30, except on the West Coast of the South Island where it runs from September 1 to November 14.

Forest & Bird’s Freshwater Advocate Annabeth Cohen says ending the sale of whitebait would help alleviate the pressure on the struggling native fishes.

“Until whitebait and their habitats are thriving, it makes no sense to allow companies to sell these fish for a profit, especially when four out of five of the species are at risk of disappearing forever,” Ms Cohen said.

“We also need better controls on recreational whitebait catches. Most people don’t know there isn't a catch limit for native freshwater fish," she said.

Ms Cohen says it's time for regional councils and central government to take action on protecting and restoring wetlands and rivers, ending commercial catches, improving water quality, and putting recreational catch limits in place.

“Regulation isn’t doing much to protect whitebait. Currently, it is illegal to sell trout but not whitebait. Native fish aren’t even protected under the Wildlife Act. 

"New Zealand’s freshwater fish deserve better," she said.

“Whitebait used to be so plentiful they were caught by the truck-load and used for fertiliser on farms. When we have returned whitebait back to these population levels, we’ll know we’ve done a good job of caring for our native freshwater fish, and their rivers."

Kōaro, shortjawed kōkopu, banded kōkopu, giant kōkopu and inanga are the fish that make up the whitebait catch, Ms Cohen said. 

They are classified by the Department of Conservation as either threatened or declining, except the banded kōkopu. 

They are just five of the dozens of fish species that migrate between fresh water and sea water here every year, she said.

Department of Conservation freshwater scientist Jane Goodman told the NZ Herald habitat degradation is one of the key causes of declining whitebait populations.

"We encourage people to get in behind local initiatives to restore spawning and adult whitebait habitat and to reduce their impact on our freshwater environment," she said.

People who see overhanging culverts or other barriers that stop whitebait moving upstream should contact their local DOC or regional council office.

DOC will be patrolling whitebaiting sites and talking to whitebaiters to ensure people are complying with the regulations, Ms Goodman said.

Annabeth Cohen told TVNZ1’s Breakfast that if steps aren’t taken the fish could disappear very soon. Source: Breakfast



Greenpeace wants Government to use funds for solar panels instead of oil and gas

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to kit out New Zealand homes with solar panels by using the funds currently subsidising the oil and gas industry.

Earlier this year the Government banned offshore exploration, and Greenpeace said the $88 million used to subsidise it could be used for solar panels and batteries for 1.5 million New Zealand homes over the next ten years.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson said a report on the future of energy from the national grid operator showed that energy systems were increasingly shifting to electricity, and she said that meant New Zealand needed to increase the amount of electricity that was produced.

"One of their forecasts is that 1.5 million households will need to go solar, and what we're saying is that it's time to kick start that right away by getting 500,000 homes kitted out with panels and batteries over ten years," she said.

Going solar would be financially beneficial for homeowners who would not have to deal with any upfront costs and would provide zero interest loans, she said.

"The plan would provide additional support to 100,000 lower income homes through a Government grant that would cover at least half the system cost. The zero interest loans would be attached to the house that receives the solar panels and batteries, not to the individuals who own it or rent it. They could be administered through Regional Councils, and paid back through rates."

The plan was launched yesterday as the organisation's flagship, Rainbow Warrior, arrived in Auckland to celebrate the Government's April announcement banning offshore oil and gas permits.

rnz.co.nz

Solar Panels Source: 1 NEWS


Dying patients with rare chemotherapy reaction paying for own drugs

Dying patients who suffer a rare reaction to chemotherapy are having to pay for their own drugs because their cases are not considered exceptional.

A 50-year-old Auckland woman, Patricia Tear, a sole caregiver to children aged 9 and 11, was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year.

She had surgery followed by chemo but suffered from cardio-toxicity from the chemo drug, known as 5-FU.

It recurred in a second attempt and doctors decided it was too risky to repeat.

Instead they applied to drug-buyer Pharmac for access under an exceptional circumstances scheme to an alternative, unfunded drug - raltitrexed, brand name Tomudex.

That was declined as Ms Tear was not considered truly exceptional. Instead, Pharmac said Ms Tear would be part of a wider group who, when exposed to the 5-FU drugs, would develop heart pain or toxicity. It added they should be considered for funding under the regular method, listing on the Pharmaceutical Schedule, but that's not currently available.

It's left Ms Tear feeling abandoned by the health system. "Up the creek without a paddle as far as I'm concerned. I'm one of the ones that have just been sent home, forgotten about."

She lives at home with her children while under hospice care, and doesn't know how long she'll have left: "I don't know, two years maybe, at the most."

Wellington woman Janet McMenamin, who's a fit 71-year-old, was also diagnosed unexpectedly with bowel cancer three months ago. It was aggressive and has spread to her liver. She also applied unsuccessfully to Pharmac's Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment, or NPPA, exceptional circumstances scheme. Similarly to Ms Tear, Ms McMenamin suffered cardiac chest pain, similar to a heart attack, when she went on two different kinds of chemo.

She said the condition is rare at one patient in a thousand, but even so she was refused funded Tomudex. She and her partner Bob Cijffers are paying $4000 a month to get it privately from Bowen Icon Cancer Centre every three weeks, to buy time for Ms McMenamin. About half of that amount was for the drug itself and the remainder for costs associated with having it administered in a private hospital, because of the lack of public funding for the drug.

"It's not a cure," Ms McMenamin said. "It's to make me as comfortable as they can and to extend my life as long as they can."

The couple say say it is discriminatory and unfair that patients like them can afford the drug privately, but that others, like Ms Tear, cannot.

"Pharmac is saying it's no longer an unusual circumstance and therefore they will be applying to put it on the official list of medicines that will be funded," Mr Cijffers said. "This process unfortunately will take at least two years and will not be of any use to Janet or Patricia or anybody else who's in the same position."

Cancer Society medical director Chris Jackson said it was leaving patients in this category "in the lurch".

"We don't know how long that will take. For many cancer drugs that is years, and unfortunately people do not have years to wait when they have cancer because people will literally be dead by the time the process is complete. And people are dying while they are waiting for Pharmac to go through these slow machinations and bureaucratic considerations."

Pharmac records show eight patients received funding under the NPPA exceptional circumstances scheme between 1 March 2012 and 31 August 2017.

Pharmac would not comment on Ms Tear's case but said it had received an application for raltitrexed to be funded for bowel cancer patients who are intolerant or unable to take the fluoropyrimidine treatment because of cardiac toxicity.

"We're not able to provide a timeframe for when the application for raltitrexed will be progressed for funding but further details will be posted on our Application Tracker as this application progresses."

Health Minister David Clark said he felt for Patricia Tear and her family. "However, as Health Minister it is not appropriate for me to intervene in individual cases. We can't have politicians second-guessing clinicians."

He said he was advised that the Auckland District Health Board, which had been overseeing Ms Tear's care, was doing its best to treat and support her.

By Karen Brown

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Cancer patient Patricia Tear with son Riley, 9,and Ruby, 11. (Photo: Karen Brown) Source: rnz.co.nz

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Most watched: Meet the Iraqi immigrant family learning Te Reo Maori - 'We have a responsibility to speak the language'

This story was first published on Thursday September 13.

Mariam Arif and her whānau are immersing themselves in te reo, as a way to feel more at home. Source: Seven Sharp

This last year has seen the number of people wanting to learn the Māori language skyrocket.

From the cape to the bluff - people are queueing up to get into Te Reo Māori classes.

One of those is an Iraqi immigrant and her whānau - who have immersed themselves in the Māori language.

"We are living on this land so we have a responsibility to speak the language of this land," Mariam Arif told Seven Sharp.

She's been living here for 20 years but has only been learning Te Reo Māori for two of those.

"When I started, I didn't really like talking, but I didn't give up and stop, didn't get shy and didn't get lazy and now I'm a lot better."

Ms Arif can speak three languages, English, Arabic and Te Reo Māori.

With her family also getting in on the act, she has plenty of people to help practice her newest language.


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Auckland Girl Guides and Brownies 'shocked' to learn women had to fight for the vote 125 years ago

A group of Auckland Girl Guides and Brownies are learning about the biggest women's rights fight in New Zealand history, days out from the 125th anniversary of Kiwi women winning the right to vote.

There's a big celebration next week. It was September 19 1893 that New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Te Atatu Girl Guide Leah Kim, 10, told Seven Sharp it really upset her to learn that women didn't get to vote until the law was changed 125 years ago.

"I didn't understand why men just got to vote and not women," she said.

Girl Guide Leader Nicola Igusa said when the girls realised that women didn't have the same rights "they feel really shocked and surprised and say 'why? why not?. That's really unfair'. Small children are really focused on fairness, so they really get it".

Kate Sheppard had tried and failed to change the law with petitions in both 1891 and 1892, but she refused to give up.

She organised 'the monster petition' of 31,872 signatures - 25 per cent of all adult women, whose collective voices created a mammoth paper protest, 274 metres long.

A new Electoral Act was passed  and in the General Election that followed a whopping 85 per cent of New Zealand women registered to vote, did so.

Next week will be 125 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote. Source: Seven Sharp


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