Salmon farm submissions

Anyone with an opinion on the biggest ever resource consent application affecting the Marlborough Sounds should waste no time in getting a submission on the table, says Marlborough Sounds ornithologist Rob Schuckard.

Mr Schuckard has investigated impacts of an application by marine farming company King Salmon, to triple the area it farms in the Marlborough Sounds. Under contract to lobby group Sustain our Sounds (SOS), he is writing up his findings ahead of the proposed March 3 opening of submissions and March 30 close-off.

Returns from farmed salmon might be ahead of mussels but the two species had opposite effects on the marine environment, Mr Schuckard said. "Mussels suck nutrients and algae out of the water, but salmon farming releases nutrients which may have a detrimental effect."

The nitrogen and phosphorus excreted into the water by salmon could be paralleled with human faeces and urine. The only difference was that pollution from salmon did not carry human pathogens. "If you visit a salmon farm, everything might look fine on the surface. But all the pollution is happening underwater."

Mr Schuckard saw the King Salmon application as putting a crowbar through the Marlborough District Council's Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan. Eight of the company's proposed farms were in a zone where the plan stated marine farming was prohibited, he said.

The only area where the Marlborough District Council measured water quality was in Queen Charlotte Sound and they were debating whether to fund similar work in the Pelorus, Mr Schuckard said. He criticised the government for tagging the Marlborough Sounds as an aquaculture growth area, without first researching its carrying capacity.

SOS spokesman Peter Beech said King Salmon had done a fantastic job of trying to condition the people of Marlborough to believe what they want to do is good for everybody. The other side of the story would be presented on the organisation's Facebook page.

New Zealand King Salmon plans to increase production from 8900 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes by 2015, at nine new sites in Queen Charlotte Sound, Tory Channel, Port Gore and the Waitata Reach of Pelorus Sound.

The Marlborough Express