Marlborough Sounds salmon farm. (Photo: Stock File)
NZ King Salmon's expansion plans opposed by lobby group
Friday, February 11, 2011, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) is seeking sites for another 10 of its farms in the Marlborough Sounds in light of upcoming aquaculture law reforms. The company is also facing stringent opposition from the lobby group Guardians of the Sounds.
The group wants the Marlborough Sounds to be granted reserve status, and spokesperson Peter Beech says NZKS is trying to bribe them to keep quiet.
Grant Rosewarne, NZKS chief executive, called the accusation "ridiculous and false."
Not only has his company not offered the group any money, he insisted, but it had also been a long-time supporter of environmental initiatives and was collaborating with the community for its development plans, reports The Nelson Mail.
And he said the Sounds are the only place suitable for farming king salmon, which is why NZKS has five farms there that produce almost 8,000 tonnes of salmon yearly.
"The challenge is to identify space that's got good conditions for growing salmon and not inhabited by some form of competing industry," he remarked.
The government has introduced legislation expected to lift the moratorium on aquaculture in mid-2011. But Rosewarne said NZKS still needs the Marlborough District Council to enact a plan change, which could take many years, before it can build more salmon farms in the Sounds.
If the company acquired 10 ha more of sea space in the Sounds, it could establish another 10 farms, he told. Just one new farm would be enough to supply the domestic market.
"We're only ever going to bring on one farm a year. We always build up customer base ahead of volume - otherwise, pricing-wise, it doesn't work out," he continued.
Peter and Takutai Beech of Guardians of the Sounds say this move is a great menace.
“Make no mistake, this is the biggest environmental threat to the Sounds we will see in our lifetimes,” they warned, reports The Marlborough Express.
“The nitrogen enrichment, phosphorus, ammonia, methane gases, all these toxins will be spread by the flood tide all around the Sounds. Remember, each farm deposits more waste than the sewerage from a town of 20,000 people,” they highlighted.
Rosewarne called the group’s claims lies and responded that the amount of nitrogen released by his farms is 50 times less than the amount naturally entering the Sounds through Cook Strait.
Meanwhile, Beech said NZKS tried to buy the Guardians’ silence last month by offering it a say in how NZD 100,000 would be used yearly on environmental projects in the Sounds.
"Accepting would have made me complicit to their expansion. They are under no misapprehensions about our feelings for their industry - we do not want any more farms in Queen Charlotte Sound," he affirmed.
- King Salmon expands
By Natalia Real