Dolphins die on NZ King Salmon farms

Dolphins are among mammals that have died at NZ King Salmon farms

Dolphins are among mammals that have died at NZ King Salmon farms

Four dolphins are among mammals that have died on New Zealand King Salmon farms since 2011.

A new sustainability report includes key social and environmental data on 14 salmon companies internationally. 

Fish mortality and mammal deaths are among measures listed in the Global Salmon Initiative Sustainability Report.

The report was launched in New Zealand on Friday by Nelson-based NZ King Salmon to mark World Environment Day. 

There were three mammal deaths across NZ King Salmon's five active sites in both 2013 and 2014, the report shows. 

King Salmon environmental coordinator Karen Mant said two seals and a dolphin died at the company's farms in 2013. The three mammals died after becoming caught in predator nets.

It was not known what species the dolphin was because the body of the dolphin had floated away before this could be confirmed, Mant sad. 

In 2014, three seals died at farms in Clay Point, Otanerau and Waihinau salmon farms. There were no dolphin deaths.  Two of the seals became tangled in predator nets, while a third seal at Otanerau was destroyed by Department of Conservation officials after it started becoming aggressive to King Salmon staff.

A dusky dolphin died after becoming caught in a predator net in 2012, while a dusky dolphin and a dolphin of unknown species died in predator nets at Crail Bay in 2011, Mant said.

The Crail Bay farm was bought from seafood company Pacifica and had a different net structure in place more prone to dolphin deaths, she said.

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In the year to date, one seal has died at King Salmon's Waihinau farm. The seal was being removed from a salmon pen when it became caught in a net.

King Salmon had robust systems in place to prevent mammals from being killed, Mant said. Staff received training on how to manage seals and remove them from salmon pens without injuring them.

About 50 seals had been removed from salmon pens in 2014 without injury, Mant said. 

The predator nets around farms were kept taut so it was less likely that mammals would become stuck in them.

King Salmon developed a Marine Mammal and Protected Shark Management Plan in partnership with the Department of Conservation and iwi groups last year. 

The Global Salmon Initiative Sustainability Report also showed an increase in fish mortality between 2013 and 2014 at King Salmon farms. Across the company's five Marlborough Sounds farms, 16.32 per cent died in 2014 compared to 13.61 per cent in 2013. 

King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said the mortality rate in the wild was about 98 per cent.

The higher mortality rate in 2014 at King Salmon farms was due to an extended period of warmer sea temperatures in the Pelorus, Rosewarne said.

A change of site this year was expected to lower the company's fish mortality rate. 

The publication of the sustainability report showed that the salmon industry had nothing to hide, Rosewarne said.

"I think it's a great thing for the industry." 

 - The Marlborough Express

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