Flotilla to protest salmon farms

Guardians of the Sounds are organising a large-scale floating protest to oppose King Salmon's planned expansion in the Marlborough Sounds.

The group is inviting opponents of the aquaculture company's plan to build more fish farms to take part in a flotilla from Waikawa Bay to two salmon farms in Tory Channel and on to a proposed farm site at Ngamahu Bay on September 29.

Wellington police launch Lady Elizabeth IV will lead the flotilla, which will be flanked by a boat from the Marlborough Harbourmaster's office.

The flotilla will be preceded by a hikoi, a protest march, from Waikawa Marae to Waikawa Bay at 9am.

Protest organiser Peter Beech said the hikoi had support from the marae.

He said he hoped more than 100 boats would join the flotilla against the salmon company plans.

Many people felt King Salmon's consultation process over the company's plan to build nine new farms in places prohibited by the district plan was lacking in time and detail, he said.

The 20-day submission period was too short for many residents to research what the company wanted and how it hoped to change the district plan through the Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

"There's a lot of people feeling very frustrated by the EPA process. A lot of those who didn't get a chance to make a submission will get to show their opposition. The horse has bolted so all of those people are now coming to us and saying we need to protest."

The responsible action was to organise a flotilla that would bring people together and help to ensure their safety, he said.

He sent letters to a range of authorities and possibly affected parties including the harbourmaster, police, Interislander and Strait Shipping to tell them about the protest and ask for advice on how to safely time and navigate it.

The letters will be followed up with invitations to a meeting to discuss any further safety issues at the Picton police station on September 21.

The muster area for the "peaceful, passive protest" will be at Te Weu Weu Bay, south of Te Pungu in Tory Channel, at 11.30am.

The flotilla will then be led by Lady Elizabeth IV, which will act as the protest's command centre, to the salmon farms.

"We want to assure King Salmon and the ferry companies that we don't have any hidden agendas. It's just a show of peaceful opposition to the salmon farms."

The protest will be postponed until the following Saturday if the weather is too rough pending a radio announcement on the morning of the event.

People are advised to wear firm footwear, warm clothes and bring some food. The boats are expected to return at 2pm.

Note: This version has been updated from the original story. 

The Marlborough Express