United Fisheries was authorised to start farming salmon in a mussel centre in Point Ligar. (Photo: United Fisheries/Stock File/FIS)
United Fisheries gets consent to raise salmon at mussel farm
Monday, May 07, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
United Fisheries has been given resource consent to raise salmon at its mussel farm at Point Ligar. The company’s subsidiary, KPF Investments, submitted the first of several such applications by fish farmers.
This week Marlborough District Council will hear an application by Ngai Tahu to add salmon to its Beatrix Bay mussel farm.
A council hearing considered submissions in late March and recently approved the application in part, as they considered it consistent with the objectives in the council's Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan, The Marlborough Express reports.
But to meet concerns about the environmental impact of introducing salmon farming to the site, the consent approval has first imposed the conditions of a marine survey of the area. A limit on the amount of feed used in a year has been imposed, and a shorter consent period of nine years rather than the 12 requested has been allowed.
United Fisheries Havelock Manager Bob Nicolle said he would need to discuss the decision with others before being able to comment on whether the restrictions would affect plans for the site.
The site now contains a 12 ha mussel farm with a consent running to December 2024.
"In considering the size of existing consents granted for aquaculture, a total of 104 ha of coastal marine area [18 per cent of total water space in Port Ligar] has been allocated," the committee said.
Opponents warned that the move would set a precedent, but the committee disagreed, saying the proposal was different from King Salmon’s.
Murray Hunt, the lawyer for KPF Investments, countered that obtaining approval would not set a precedent or open the door for fish farms throughout the Marlborough Sounds.
United Fisheries proposed starting the farm at a lower level and eventually increasing if the farm proved successful, but this was rejected by the committee.
"The committee found that there is a lack of evidence as to the potential impact on the marine ecology when feed is increased beyond 1,500 tonnes per annum. Given this, the committee was of a mind to only grant a maximum of 1,500 tonnes per annum, with a new resource consent required to increase the feed further," the committee stated.
The committee also imposed a site biosecurity plan, as requested by King Salmon, and stricter monitoring to assess the effect of the salmon farm on king shags, 92 per cent of which live in the Sounds.
By Natalia Real