Fish farm proximity to boat routes queried

The distance between proposed new salmon farms and the Cook Strait ferry route is far less than Marine New Zealand guidelines require, boating club representatives said in Blenheim yesterday.

Lawyer Sue Grey said navigation experts agreed the distance between proposed farm cages and the ferry route was about 300 to 400 metres.

The Guidelines for Aquaculture Management Areas and Marine Farms recommended a 1000 metre separation, measured from outside anchoring points, she said.

Ms Grey was addressing the Environmental Protection Authority hearing to consider an application by New Zealand King Salmon to build nine new farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

She represents the Pelorus Boating Club based in Havelock, the Royal Portage Bay Boating Club based at Portage and the Mana Cruising Club based in Wellington, which have a combined membership of 1580 boats worth up to $120m, and own 79 moorings in the Sounds.

King Salmon witnesses failed to consider recreational boat routes in the heavy traffic areas of Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel, she said.

Pelorus Boating Club commodore Michael Connolly said most boaties in Tory Channel would travel inshore from the track taken by ferries.

If one of the five farms proposed in the Waitata Reach of Pelorus Sound was to break away from its moorings, a tow-boat would take 2 hours to get from Havelock, Mr Connolly said.

Commissioner Mark Farnsworth asked why it would be hard to educate skippers about the location of new farms. Mr Farnsworth is a member of the board of inquiry which will decide whether King Salmon can build its proposed farms and if so, what conditions are required.

Mr Connolly said someone who bought a truck needed a licence to drive it but anyone could buy a boat then drive it in Waitata Reach.

"The training is . . . challenging," he said.

Questioned by Mr Farnsworth, Mr Connolly said he believed the Marlborough District Council had reviewed its district plans and decided it would continue to enforce an aquaculture-free zone in the Sounds.

"So it's not a review then," Mr Farnsworth said.

It was possible to review a plan and keep something as it was, Mr Connolly said.



Boating club members' main concerns about salmon farm expansion include:

Undermining the value of club moorings

Navigational hazards caused by proximity to busy navigational routes

Lighting, noise, smell and visual pollution

Disruption to blue cod and scallop fisheries

Lost fishing access

Reduced confidence in the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan

The Marlborough Express