Niall Watson is the chief executive of the Otago Fish & Game Council and is one of two Fish & Game representatives on the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group.
Niall has been involved in fish and game management in Otago for more than 30 years – back to the days when it was the Acclimatisation Society.
He’s very familiar with the Manuherikia area, having enjoyed many holidays over the decades at his family’s Central Otago crib. Describing himself as “a not very accomplished angler and hunter,” the region’s outdoor and recreational opportunities are its main attraction, he says.
Niall strongly supports a “collective approach to water management".
“It has advantages over a piecemeal approach for both private water users and the public interests in rivers and all that rivers have to offer.”
He therefore supports the effort the MCWSG is making to ensure the catchment’s water supply is used sustainably, to support both agriculture and the environment.
“While it’s early days – we are just in the midst of a feasibility study – the fact there is a feasibility study underway, looking at all aspects of the irrigation proposals including the environmental matters, I think demonstrates the value of the strategy group’s approach.
“When people look at the application of water for irrigation in small pieces, you tend not to get that depth of understanding of what is going on in the environment,” Niall says.
He lives in Dunedin with his wife Julie. They have two adult children.