SOS over farm plan

22:47, Apr 12 2012

The cumulative destruction of the forest and marine eco-system in the Marlborough Sounds has reached a tipping point, says environmental scientist Helle Janssen.

Finfish farming could push it over the edge, he said.

Mr Janssen was speaking at a public meeting in Havelock, organised by the Sustain Our Sounds group, to address concerns over the New Zealand King Salmon Ltd application to build a further nine salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds. About 40 people attended the meeting at the sports pavilion on Thursday night.

"We are killing the Sounds by a thousand cuts," Mr Janssen said.

"If we kick the butt of this system, it will kick back majorly and we will be the poorer for it."

The crowd were given anti-salmon farm car bumper stickers and the New Zealand King Salmon Ltd application on CD.

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Sustain Our Sounds chairman Danny Boulton said the good turnout showed people cared about the Marlborough Sounds.

"For the night before Easter, to get people out, shows they obviously have a genuine interest."

Mr Boulton said the group needed $500,000 to fight the proposal. "It sounds like a lot of money but shared between us it's not a big ask."

He asked people at the meetingt for financial support.

Sustain Our Sounds scientific adviser Rob Schuckard has worked as a mussel farmer in the Marlborough Sounds. He claimed the Sounds could not sustain the increased nitrogen levels produced by the additional tonnage of salmon from the proposed further nine New Zealand King Salmon farms. The extra nitrogen would fill the water with harmful algae, he claimed. Increased algae would also affect birds such as the king shag and cormorants which wouldn't be able to dive for food, he said.

Former Marlborough mayor Tom Harrison said the New Zealand King Salmon proposal was the most important issue the Marlborough community had faced.

"I'm so concerned about what is going to happen here.

"This is serious," he said.

Mr Boulton said algae was killing off the vitality of the Sounds and could lead to dead zones.

A landowner living beside one of the existing farms had already noticed increased algae levels in the water, he said. "We have reason to be concerned not only about the proposed farms but about what we have already."

The Marlborough Express