Protest flotilla in Marlborough Sounds targets NZ King Salmon farms

Green MP Steffan Browning, left, prepares signs for the protest.
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Green MP Steffan Browning, left, prepares signs for the protest.

"No more salmon farms in our Sounds" - that's the message a group of protesters wanted to hammer home to New Zealand King Salmon this weekend. 

A flotilla of more than 20 boats sailed up the Tory Channel to take part in a silent protest, circling two salmon farms with placards as King Salmon employees watched from balconies. 

Signs alleging the Ministry for Primary Industries was "trashing the Sounds Plan" and turning the Marlborough Sounds into a "cesspit" by proposing to relocate King Salmon's farms were held up. 

More than 20 boats took to the water to protest MPI's salmon farm relocation plan.
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

More than 20 boats took to the water to protest MPI's salmon farm relocation plan.

The protest was smooth sailing, aside from one protester falling overboard while trying to retrieve a sign.

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Blenheim resident Karen Starkey of Ngai Tahu and Ngati Rarua descent said one of the reasons she was protesting was to preserve kaimoana for future generations of her people to exercise their customary fishing rights. 

The flotilla approaches Te Pangu salmon farm.
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

The flotilla approaches Te Pangu salmon farm.

"I don't like salmon farms, I can't stand them. The pollution, the degradation, all of it.

"Businesses already degraded the rivers, why degrade the sea now – that's what sustained our people for generations and generations."

Starkey believed the effects of pollution were already being seen.

"Only algae blooms and jelly fish live in dead zones".
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

"Only algae blooms and jelly fish live in dead zones".

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MPI is proposing to relocate six low-flow salmon farms to higher-flow sites in the Pelorus Sound and the Tory Channel, using legislation which would allow it to alter the Marlborough District Council's resource management plan for the area.  

Hearings on the issue will continue next week, and will run into May. 

A protester is drenched but smiling after falling in the water.
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

A protester is drenched but smiling after falling in the water.

Beech, whose children and grandchildren also came along, said he was pleased at the number of people who had turned up to the protest. 

"It's about what I expected, with a protest like this it's always weather dependent." 

The protestors circled farms at Te Pangu and Clay Point, before visiting the site of a proposed new farm in Tio Point. 

Salmon farm workers watch the protest.
ELENA MCPHEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Salmon farm workers watch the protest.

King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said boats which turned out would have represented "only about 2 per cent" of the total number of boats in the Marlborough Sounds. 

Protester Bill McEwan, who was also travelling on the Tutanekai, said he believed economic growth was being put before human happiness and values, and society was "becoming very greedy". 

Guardians of the Sounds member Claire Pinder said the salmon farms would release the equivalent of 400,000 tonnes of human sewerage into the Sounds. 

Some people drew a distinction between salmon waste and other kinds of waste, but "nitrogen is still nitrogen", she said. 

She saw the proposal as introducing new farms, not simply moving the old ones. 

"Let's not pretend it's relocation, as some of the farms have been fallowed." 

 - Stuff

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