Interislander won't back farms if ferry routes restricted
If approving more salmon farms meant imposing restrictions on ferry operations, then King Salmon's application should be turned down, Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said yesterday.
Mr Davis and Interislander's lawyer James Winchester, from Simpson Grierson in Wellington, expressed concerns about suggestions by Marlborough harbourmaster Alex van Wijngaarden that speed restrictions might be required in Tory Channel if two salmon farms were approved and set up alongside the ferry routes.
Mr Winchester said speed controls on the National Transport Route (through Tory Channel and part of the Queen Charlotte Sound) in the Marlborough Sounds were critical to Interislander's operation.
He said Interislander supported sustainable economic development in the Marlborough Sounds and considered King Salmon's proposal would have positive effects on Marlborough's economy.
"Interislander is satisfied that King Salmon's proposal, if approved, will not affect its operations or present unacceptable navigational risks or hazards (including for other vessels in the Sounds). This view is based on the expertise and significant operational experience of its masters who navigate ferries through the Sounds in all conditions and who understand the environment and the interaction of their vessels with other users (including recreational boaties and marine farms)."
Mr Winchester said despite that, if the board of inquiry found the proposed Tory Channel farms would present navigational issues that could potentially impact on Interislander's operation, "Interislander's long standing and nationally important use of the National Transport Route must be given priority".
Mr Davis said if conditions were imposed on Interislander as a result of the board of inquiry process, he would find that "unacceptable".
Mr van Wijngaarden said under cross-examination that his comments should not be taken as something considered lightly. There would be checks and balances.
"It's not something done with a rush of blood to the head. It would be done carefully, with consultation. I wouldn't just get up one morning and impose restrictions."
Such measures would only be taken if the farms were approved and set up and then "events" took place on a regular basis that required direct action to remedy.
"It may or may not require speed restrictions, it may or may not require particular route to be taken. I'm trying not to get hung up on speed restrictions. It could be other decisions taken."
Navigational safety would be the prime consideration, but the economic impact on operators would also be considered.
He agreed there had been no reported cases of a collision between a salmon farm and a ferry. There had been one incident when a farm had broken free of its moorings and drifted, but then the channel had been closed, preventing any incidents.
He confirmed to board of inquiry member Michael Briggs that there had been complaints of damage to salmon farms from ferry wash.
- The Marlborough Express