Manu Waiata Restoration & Protection Society
Registered office: 2225 Wyuna Bay Road
10 August 2017
Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
cc Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, Hon Ron Mark, Mr Chai Chuah, Ms Michelle Hippolite
Dear Attorney General ,
Please may I have your urgent attention. Department of Conservation plans to spread VTA 1080 over Coromandel's public conservation lands in September and October 2017.
The operation as planned does not comply with provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996, the Health Act 1956, the Health (Drinking water) Amendment Act 2007, and the Communications Guideline for aerial operations (ERMA 2009). The September--October operation will be unlawful.
Aerial poisoning is normally intended for remote and inaccessible terrain where human health does not need to be protected. The Peninsula's Public Conservation Lands are ringed by farms, roads, schools, and coastal settlements and are frequented by local families, hunters, trampers, and tourists.
Poisoned carcasses do not rot, because fluoroacetate kills the maggots. DOC staff clear carcasses only from designated tracks and the lower reaches of streams. Long after the forests are re-opened to the public, heavy rain rolls poisoned carcasses down gully sides into streams that flow to coastal settlements and coastal roads. Contamination of water and water supplies is a harm that can not be remedied in settled areas.
Even with waxed baits, dust generated from the helicopter bucket is blown by the wind beyond buffer zones. Two women from Reefton are suffering long term health impairment after being caught in an aerial drop on a roadway in 2014 NOTE 1. Dust is a harm that cannot be managed in settled areas.
Trap monitoring results suggest possum numbers are not high enough to justify an expensive and non-complying poisoning operation. The very low rtci return for possums at Papakai, with town water supplies sourced from its streams, together with its close settlements and strong public preference for trapping, should invite rethinking the necessity for an aerial operation, NOTE 2.
Trapping is a viable alternative for the Coromandel Peninsula. The ranges have been logged, mined, burnt and farmed. The forests are largely second growth. A fit person can walk over the range in a day, or up and over Moehau mountain in a day. Moehau is networked with tracks established for trapping in the 2000s when trapping produced the best rate of kiwi chick survival, NOTE 3. Targeted management by trapping has community support. Audits show that trapping is cheaper than aerial poisoning, NOTE 4.
The purpose of the Treaty of Waitangi Act, to protect the relationship of Maori with their flora and fauna, is discussed under the HASNO Act, the Health Act, and the Communications guideline for aerial 1080 operations (2009). Hauraki Maori place great emphasis on protecting the purity of water and the safety of their food basket. These values are not protected by aerial poisoning. Maori have been vocal in advocating trapping.
The purpose of the HSNO Act is to manage the adverse effects of hazardous substances. The paragraphs that follow demonstrate that the adverse effects of aerial 1080 cannot be managed on the Coromandel Peninsula. They can be prevented by using hunting and trapping.
Manu Waiata Restoration & Protection Society
Registered office: 2225 Wyuna Bay Ro
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES AND NEW ORGANISMS ACT
1. HSNO s.4. Purpose of Act
The purpose of this Act is to protect the environment, and the health and safety of people and communities, by preventing or managing the adverse effects of hazardous substances and new organisms.
1080 baits contain the poison fluoroacetate. Fluoroacetate does not leave the environment, NOTE 5. It is absorbed by the sap of plants and the fluids of animals. It is eco-toxic that is, it poisons everything that breathes air. In aerial distribution the dust settles on the foliage that insects eat; the baits fall into the clefts of trees where pigeons drink, and onto the ground where insects, frogs, birds eat the baits, and into the streams where koura take the baits and eels and trout eat poisoned carcasses.
1080 poisons introduced predators along with native flora and fauna. Rats increase their population faster than native birds. The adverse effects of 1080 when spread aerially are random and uncontrollable. The effects can not be managed. They can only be prevented by use of a different method.
All persons exercising functions, powers, and duties under this Act shall, to achieve the purpose of this Act, recognise and provide for the following principles: (a) the safeguarding of the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems:
Mono fluoroacetate spread aerially is absorbed by water, soil, and eco-systems; the dust is carried in the air. It poisons, kills, and debilitates life forms. It weakens the mauri / wellbeing of ecosystems.
All persons exercising functions, powers, and duties under this Act shall, to achieve the purpose of this Act, recognise and provide for the following principles: (b) the maintenance and enhancement of the capacity of people and communities to provide for their own economic, social, and cultural well-being and for the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations.
1080 poisons the food basket of Maori. On the Coromandel Peninsula wild food is significant in Maori diets. Pig hunters report that after the aerial 1080 drops on Moehau and Papakai in 2013, the wild pigs became emaciated and lost weight, It is known from scientific studies that 1080 has entered the food chain. Health warnings have been issued against eating pigs, eels, trout, watercress and puha following 1080 drops. NOTE 6.
All persons exercising functions, powers, and duties under this Act shall, to achieve the purpose of this Act, take into account the following matters: (a) the sustainability of all native and valued introduced flora and fauna: (b) the intrinsic value of ecosystems:
All persons exercising powers and functions under this Act shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).
All persons exercising functions, powers, and duties under this Act...shall take into account the need for caution in managing adverse effects where there is scientific and technical uncertainty about those effects.
Apart from along well trodden paths, DOC staff do not remove baits and poisoned carcasses from the bush before the public conservation lands are re-opened to public use. Carcasses poisoned by 1080 do not break down. Poisoning of water supplies over the long term is an effect that cannot be avoided, remedied, mitigated when an aerial method is used.
Poison dust generated in the distribution of 1080 pellets is causing long term human health problems, medically attested, NOTE 1. Buffer zones in DOC's planning for the September--October operations do not take into account wind blown dust. Some landowners have advised DOC that the buffers are inadequate.
Inhalation of dust is seriously detrimental to human health. Wind blown dust is an effect that cannot be predicted and cannot be avoided when 1080 is spread by helicopter.
In the Mahakirau Forest Estate subdivision, there is no certainty that helicopter flight paths spreading 1080 toxin will avoid pellets falling near dwellings, and no certainty that wind blown dust will not be inhaled by residents. The Mahakirau plan is unrealistic and unlawful under NSNO s13. Inevitably there will be adverse effects on residents that are not avoided, remedied, mitigated. The operation should not be granted permission.
HEALTH ACT 1956
12. Health Act 1956. s.29 Nuisances defined for purposes of this Act. a nuisance shall be deemed to be created (k) where any animal, or any carcass or part of a carcass, is so kept or allowed to remain as to be offensive or likely to be injurious to health: s. 30 Penalties for permitting or causing nuisances (1) Every person by whose act, default, or sufferance a nuisance arises or continues, whether that person is or is not the owner or occupier of the premises in respect of which the nuisance exists, commits an offence against this Act.
14. The VTA permission forms require Department of Conservation officers to state they have complied with the requirements of the Communications guideline for aerial 1080 operations (2009). The Guideline describes three steps of communication.
STEP 1. Consultation on the options for control and their effects.
In 2013 and 2017 DOC officers made a decision to advertise aerial 1080 operations before beginning consultation with iwi and community groups, demonstrating that DOC did not intend to offer options for control. This is testified in numerous letters sent by hapū members to the Hauraki Director and the Director General of Conservation. There have been no hui or public gatherings where DOC staff have offered options for control.
STEP 2. Consultation on the effects of the operation.
Consultation has consisted largely of notifying people of decisions already made, discussing buffer zones, and identifying water takes. Letters to DOC Hauraki have not been answered and no public meetings or hui have been held.
None of the established community groups has been consulted. We have been kaitiaki of this environment for many decades. There has been no account taken of the effects of using aerial 1080 from the perspective of our missions: Forest&Bird (forests, wetlands, trapping), Manu Waiata (streams, fish passage, trapping advocacy), Kuaotunu Environmental Action (food forestry, trapping without poisons), the Pig Hunting Clubs (culling pigs, trapping), and the Coromandel Colville Community Board (community resolutions opposing aerial 1080 and supporting trapping).
STEP 3. Notification.
Communication has been primarily by advertisements and letters of notification.
15. The Guideline states, "The operations manager needs to establish the communication processes that are appropriate for the proposed operation".
No hui have been held. In DOC's 2013 permission application the individuals listed as being consulted on behalf of Maori did not hold hui with their hapu, and many hapu members did not know they had been spoken for.
DOC's lack of consultation with Maori was a subject of National News in 2013, NOTE 9.
16. The Guideline states, "When consulting with Māori, you need to take into account Section 6(d) of the HSNO Act: 'The relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, valued flora and fauna, and other taunga'.".
The public conservation lands intended for aerial poisoning operations in 2013 and 2017, are domains where Māori hunt game and gather materials. Kaumātua and iwi and hapū trusts have made known their strong opposition to the poisoning of the food basket. Scientific studies have reported traces of 1080 in foods eaten by Māori. Health warnings have been issued for pigs, eels, trout, watercress and puha following aerial poisoning operations.
Māori tikanga for reaching decisions was not observed in 2013 and 2017.
17. The Guideline states, "Notification on its own is not sufficient communication if an operation is taking place on public land. On public land, Māori, neighbours and hunting groups should be consulted either at a programme level or at minimum, at an operational level."
In 2013 and 2017 there have been no hui initiated by DOC to discuss options for predator control that could ensure safe use of public conservation lands by Māori, hunters, and local families (neighbours).
There is widespread support for trapping. Consultation at a program level would have identified concerns, and then options for control should have been offered.
On 16 June 2017 Māori and Pākehā published an Open Letter in the Hauraki Herald stating that Department of Conservation does not have a social licence for aerial 1080. People repeatedly said, We have not been consulted. DOC has trodden on our democratic right to decide on predator control in our own landscape. DOC has trodden on our rangatiratanga.
CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT
18. Moehau and Papakai public conservation lands are in the Coromandel Colville ward. Coromandel Colville Community Board has resolutions passed in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2017 opposing use of 1080 and supporting alternative methods such as hunting and trapping with cyanide only. Thames Coromandel District Council has resolutions passed in 2009 supporting the Community Board and advocating possum trapping for fur.
DOC officers did not offer to local government options for control in 2013 and 2017. Democratic process invites respect for local government. However, DOC has not consulted the Community Board. On 16 June 2017 Māori and Pākehā published an Open Letter in the Hauraki Herald stating that Department of Conservation does not have a social licence to use aerial 1080 on Coromandel's Public conservation Lands.
On 29 July 2017 Māori and Pākehā marched at Whitianga to protest against aerial poisoning. Speakers from tangata whenua, political parties and local government addressed the marchers. This was the only public meeting on the 1080 drops. Department of Conservation did not send a speaker.
NOTE 1. 1080 baits were dropped on two women on Maori Gully Road near Reefton in June 2014. Ten months later both were still ill, it is assumed from inhaling the dust. One woman had liver and thyroid damage, ongoing nausea and digestive problems, and typically, as has been observed in pigs and eels that have absorbed 1080, she had lost weight. (Greymouth Star, 22 September 2014. NZ Herald, 29 June 2015)
NOTE 2. DOC's objective is to reduce possums to 5% rtci.
MOEHAU. Monitoring of possums at Moehau in October 2016 recorded an rtci of 6.27% (Department of Conservation, Trend report for Moehau 2016, p.44). For the sake of reducing possums by 1.27% the Department has planned an expensive and risky aerial operation that may cause greater losses to native biota.
PAPAKAI. The rtci for possums and rats was not known when the decision to use aerial 1080 on Papakai was made in January 2017. Subsequently, monitoring of possums at Papakai in February 2017 returned an rtci of 5.15% (Department of Conservation, Trend report for Papakai, 2017, p.21). An expensive aerial operation is to be undertaken for the sake of reducing possums by 0.15%.
90% of the public support trapping for predator control and 34% support aerial poisoning (IPSOS, Survey of New Zealanders, report for Department of Conservation, 2016).
NOTE 3. Trapping is cost effective.
Audits demonstrate that employing trappers is cheaper than conducting an aerial operation. For example, Hudson calculated the cost of the Hokonui aerial 1080 drop on 23 and 24 July 2004 at $56.40/ha, compared with a quote from hunters and trappers of $16/ha for ground-based predator control. The cost at $56.40/ha did not include the costs of helicopter hours, stand-by helicopter, digger and 2 graders to upgrade road, freight on baits, 24 hour security patrol, Insurance, resource consents hearing, administration by three bodies, consultation meetings and hui with locals (Animal Health Board, Project No: R-10573 (LC0203/107)).
In 2010 an audit of Animal Health Board for Cabinet, costed aerial 1080 at around $57/ha (Bovine Tb Strategy Review of Costs, July 2010, Table 3.4, p.21) of which $35/ha was control + survey (p.22).
NOTE 4. Trapping succeeds.
NOTE 5. How the chemistry of 1080 works.
What is 1080? 1080 is Sodium monofluoroacetate CH2FCOONa.
Does 1080 occur naturally? No.
What makes 1080 so toxic? It is the monofluoracetate ion (CH2FCOO-) which is toxic, the sodium ion (Na+) is irrelevant. Monofluoroacetate is toxic because it is the same shape and almost the same size as the acetate ion. When monofluoroacetate gets into a cell it is converted into monofluorocitrate and enters the citric acid cycle (how aerobic cells get energy). Unfortunately for the cell, fluorocitrate interferes with the enzymes that do the next step in the cycle. The cycle stops, the cell dies.
Does monofluoroacetate occur naturally? Yes. It is, however, potassium monofluoroacetate (CH2FCOOK) which is found naturally occurring. As with 1080 (CH2FCOONa) the potassium ion (K+) is irrelevant, it is the monofluoroacetate- ion which is toxic. There are three possible fluoroacetate ions with 1, 2 and 3 fluorine atoms (monofluoroacetate CH2FCOO-, difluoroacetate CHF2COO-, and trifluoroacetate CF3COO-). All three forms of fluoroacetate are equally toxic and it makes no difference to toxicity whether the source is natural or manufactured.
Forest & Bird Society, DoC, et.al., insist on claiming a natural source for fluoroacetate. This is to IMPLY a greater safety because fluoroacetate is “naturally occurring” that trades on the persistent, unsubstantiated belief held by the public at large that natural is “good” synthetic is “bad”. This is spin.
Is 1080 biodegradeable? Yes. Almost everything is, it is simply a question of how fast and by what process. IUPAC definition: “Degradation caused by enzymic process resulting from the action of cells”.
By this definition, 1080 is biodegradable. 1080 is stable below 200˚C except when it is ingested by a living cell -- any aerobic cell will do, like the cells you and I are made up of, or the cells of a morepork or rat or frog or dolphin, insect, bird, tree etc.
There are a few an-aerobic species which are able to degrade 1080 without visible harm. However, most of the 1080 dropped will eventually encounter a susceptible living cell which will ingest it, and attempt to metabolise it. Most of these cells will themselves be damaged or killed. Killing and damaging cells is not good for the environment.
Once a cell is dead, all enzymatic processes stop and any remaining fluoroacetate or its metabolite fluorocitrate will stop being degraded, leaving poisoned carcasses uncollected, each one capable of poisoning and/or killing the next scavenger.
Again, DoC et.al., insisting on describing 1080 as "biodegradable 1080” is spin, because it trades upon the commonly held belief that “biodegradable” is “good”. Biodegradable ONLY by damaging or killing cells is NOT “good”.
Fluoroacetate does occur in nature in a few species of plant probably as a defence against browsing. These plants are native to land masses which originally made up part of Gondwanaland, Australia, Africa and Latin America. None of these plants are native to NZ.
Animals can develop a tolerance for specific toxins when they evolve in the presence of those toxins particularly if they are folivores like the Australian Brushtail Possum. Thomas Look
NOTE 6. Health warnings.
"A withholding period of 30 - 38 days should be observed after any aerial 1080 operation in an area where puha may be in close vicinity to bait." (Miller et al, 2009)
"A withholding period of 10 days should be observed before collecting watercress after an aerial 1080 operation in the area." (Ogilvie et al, 2009)
"We detected 1080 residues in eel tissue that were on average 12 times higher than the PMAV, 1 day after eels consumed contaminated tissue. This suggests a withholding period for eel harvest after an aerial 1080 operation should be implemented." (Lyver et al, 2005)
"Research by DOC, the Federation of Freshwater Anglers, and Fish and Game New Zealand showed trout take up small amounts of 1080 into their flesh after eating mice infected with the poison." Southland Times, 2 October 2014.
Cawthron Research Institute commissioned by Department of Conservation advised, "a trout eating a small number of mice with 1080 will have traces of 1080 that potentially exceed New Zealand Food Safety Authority limits for 1080 in food."
Elaine C. Murphy , B. Kay Clapperton , Philip M. F. Bradfield & Hazel J. Speed (1998) Effects of rat poisoning operations on abundance and diet of mustelids in New Zealand podocarp forests, New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 25:4, 315-328.
Sweetapple, P.; Nugent, G. 2007: Ship rat demography and diet following possum control in a mixed podocarp-hardwood forest. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 31: 186–201. “Mean ship rat abundance indices increased nearly fivefold after possum control and remained high for up to 6 years…the typical outcome for most pulsed possum control is an uncontrolled ship rat population in the presence of a low-density possum population for most of the 3-7 year cycle.”
Innes, J., Kelly, D., Overton, J.M. & Gillies, C. (2010) Predation and other factors currently limiting New Zealand forest birds – a review. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 34 , 86–114. “Intermittent control of possums and ship rats may have the nett effect of increasing ship rats for most of the time.”
NOTE 8. 1080 residues in eels.
P.O'B. Lyver, J. Ataraia, K. Trought, P. Fisher, 2005, Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) residues in longfin eels, Anguilla dieffenbachii, following exposure to contaminated water and food. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, Vol. 39: 1243-1252
NOTE 9. Lack of consultation with Maori.
"Kaumatua says iwi not consulted over 1080", Radio NZ News, 8.13pm, 3 May 2013. "A Ngati Pukenga kaumatua says the Department of Conservation has not adequately consulted iwi over an upcoming 1080 drop....The chairman of Te Moana a Toi Leaders Forum, Awanui Black...says his Coromandel whanau opposes the drop, but DOC does not seem to be listening."