Flotilla gathers to 'save Sounds'
The Sounds have been our kai moana basket for generationsIAN ALLEN
Opponents of new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds sang You Are My Sunshine on a hikoi to Waikawa Bay before joining a flotilla protest on Saturday.
Waikawa man Buna Riwaka said protesters saw the Marlborough Sounds as their sunshine, providing happiness and life, and that New Zealand King Salmon's plans to build nine new farms would destroy that.
"For generations the Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel have been our kai moana basket," he said.
"It's our responsibility to protect that for generations to come, just as our ancestors did."
About 60 people made the march with police escort from Waikawa Marae to Waikawa Bay foreshore.
Organisers of the flotilla, Guardians of the Sounds, deployed a patrol vessel to ensure a peaceful demonstration on the water.
A police boat also accompanied the flotilla during the two-hour demonstration.
Guardians of the Sounds chairman Peter Beech said the group did not want protesters stepping onto New Zealand King Salmon farms or shouting abuse at farm workers.
About 40 boats gathered at the company's original salmon farm at Ruakaka Bay around 11am before going across to proposed farm sites at Kaitapeha and Rua o Moko at the entrance to Tory Channel.
Organisers had wanted 100 boats but Mr Beech said he was happy with the turnout.
"That's a lot of boats to have milling around in one place," he said. "We had a message to get across and we achieved that without any nonsense. There's nothing to be gained by yelling and screaming."
King Salmon has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority for a private plan change and resource consents so it can farm fish at nine new sites in the Marlborough Sounds, including eight where aquaculture is prohibited by the Marlborough District Council.
An EPA board of inquiry has heard five weeks of submissions for and against the proposed sites in what is expected to be an eight-week hearing in Blenheim.
Picton man Mr Beech said Saturday's floating protest was for those who missed the chance to oppose the application during the EPA's original 20-day submission period.
New Zealand King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said the 40-strong flotilla showed a lack of support for the protest.
The new farms would create "370 sustainable, high-value jobs" he said.
- The Marlborough Express