Video views unscientific, expert says
Videos filmed by Sustain Our Sounds chairman Danny Boulton near sites where NZ King Salmon plans to build new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds were not scientific, a scientist Rob Davidson said in Blenheim on Friday.
Mr Davidson, a consultant working for Cawthorn, is an expert witness in an Environmental Protection Authority hearing of an application by King Salmon to build nine farms, eight in areas of the Sounds where aquaculture is not allowed.
Mark Farnsworth who is a member of the board of inquiry which will decide whether the farms can be built, asked on Friday at the hearing how they should regard these clips.
Mr Davidson said the footage taken by Mr Boulton was beautiful but jumped about and it was hard to know exactly where it was taken in relation to the application.
"We don't know if it's in a farm, next to a farm or inshore," he said.
The videos show sponge gardens, forests of hydroids tubeworm mounds and other under-sea environments which Sustain Our Sounds say could be damaged or destroyed by the proposed fish farms.
Mr Davidson suggested the clips tended to focus on big, interesting things typical of what could be found in high flow areas of the Sounds, but not on proposed sites.
Cawthron sampled under and around proposed sites using scientific methods including drop cameras, divers with videos and sonar, Mr Davidson said.
The drop-camera photos were taken at selected points so there was some bias.
Mr Davidson agreed with Sustain Our Sounds lawyer Warwick Heal that some of the communities filmed, including tubeworm mounds, could take centuries rather than years to recover if they were damaged. It was possible undiscovered organisms lived at proposed sites but this was unlikely because everything found there had been described.
Mr Boulton later told the Marlborough Express that points he dived at were accurately pinpointed on maps in a book of photographs included with Sustain Our Sounds evidence given to the board.
All sites were very close to farms and would be affected by tidal flushing, as illustrated in a video shown by King Salmon expert Ben Knight on day one of the hearing, Mr Boulton said.
The second week of the hearing began at the Floor Pride Marlborough Civic Theatre in Blenheim today.
Evidence is to be presented on effects of the proposed application on the seabed.
- The Marlborough Express