Salmon farm proposal causes concern among iwi

New Zealand King Salmon's farm at Clay Point in Tory Channel had a minor non-compliance for exceeding permitted ...
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New Zealand King Salmon's farm at Clay Point in Tory Channel had a minor non-compliance for exceeding permitted enrichment levels when monitored last year, but is not one of the farms proposed for relocation.

The chairman of an iwi fisheries forum has lashed out against a plan to relocate up to six salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, accusing the Government of dealing in bad faith. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries wants to relocate five New Zealand King Salmon farms in Pelorus Sound and one salmon farm in Tory Channel, and claims the changes would bring economic and environmental benefits. 

Te Tau Ihu customary fisheries forum chairman Richard Bradley said the plan was "not honourable". 

Some proposed new sites in the Pelorus Sound area.
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Some proposed new sites in the Pelorus Sound area.

The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement Act 2004 stated iwi were entitled to a 20 per cent share of any new space available for aquaculture.

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However the Government was "bending the truth", Bradley said, and not treating the proposed new salmon farms as new spaces. 

Proposed new salmon farm site in Tory Channel.
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Proposed new salmon farm site in Tory Channel.

The plan was announced on Wednesday, after months of discussion with the Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group, comprised of Government and council representatives, and members of community groups. 

During the treaty settlement process eight top of the South iwi were told there was no more space available in the Marlborough Sounds for aquaculture.

"There is currently no suitable space otherwise it would have been offered to us two years ago," Bradley said.

That was the basis of cash compensation which was "begrudgingly" accepted byTe Tau Ihu iwi, he said. 

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As part of the proposal put forward last week MPI intended to override the Marlborough District Council's Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan, using special provisions under the Resource Management Act to free up protected areas for aquaculture.

Bradley said he saw the proposal as a "bad faith" attempt to override the Government's settlement obligation.

As the iwi had not received the cash settlement yet, Bradley suggested it could be returned to the Government in exchange for 20 per cent of the new New Zealand King Salmon marine farm space.

MPI director of economic development Luke Southorn said MPI would consult and hold hui with all relevant iwi authorities. 

He did not make any comment on Bradley's proposal. 

Top of the South iwi members met with Minister Nathan Guy to talk about the proposal on Wednesday. 

"The iwi members present were pleased the minister had come down to speak to the iwi directly," Bradley said.

"[But] they were still not supportive of the fact that King Salmon in this instance should be given some sort of preference to water space." 

Existing NZ King Salmon farm sites which could be relocated are Ruakaka Bay, Otanerau Bay, Forsyth Bay, Waihinau Bay, and two farms in Crail Bay which have not been stocked since 2011. 

Potential new sites are Blowhole Point North and South, the middle of the Waitata channel, the southern part of Richmond Bay, and Horseshoe Bay, as well as Tio Point in the Tory Channel.

The consultation document also did not explain what would be done environmentally to restore the sites which were not meeting best practice guidelines, Bradley said. 

The working group was originally set up after environmental monitoring revealed three King Salmon farms in Queen Charlotte Sound were not meeting the guidelines. 

The Cawthron Institute found pollution under pens and seabed enrichment, caused by fish waste falling on the seabed and uneaten fish food.

Bradley said iwi were only made aware of Guy's intention to meet them on Tuesday morning.

However Te Atiawa chairman Harvey Ruru, who also attended the meeting, was convinced the consultation process was a good one. 

Te Atiawa held shares in NZ King Salmon, but that did not make any difference, Ruru said. 

"We're just following [the submissions process] and I think it's quite a good process. It was a very, very good meeting," he said. 

MPI predicted the relocated farms could contribute up to $49 million annually to Marlborough's regional GDP, and up to 511 fulltime jobs. 

The proposed relocation would take place over 10 to 15 years. 

If the salmon farms remained where they were the lower-flow farms would have to lie fallow for two to five years to allow the seabed to recover.

An estimated $10m GDP per annum and 105 fulltime employees would be lost over that period, the consultation document said. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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