Green MP says salmon firm has history of mistakes

22:30, Oct 02 2012

The latest evidence of the "cowboy antics" of New Zealand King Salmon can be seen in the Pelorus River near Havelock, Green MP Steffan Browning told an Environmental Protection Authority hearing in Blenheim yesterday.

Mr Browning showed the hearing photographs of salmon farm pontoons floating in the Pelorus River, visible from the causeway west of Havelock. There were broken pieces of equipment on the river bank and a large hole where something had been buried.

King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne later told the Marlborough Express that old steel pontoons from its Forsyth and Waihinau Farms had been towed up the river from Pelorus Sound where they were being dismantled for sale as scrap metal. This was with permission from the Department of Conservation and Marlborough District Council.

The hole nearby was unrelated and King Salmon staff did not know why it had been dug, Mr Rosewarne said.

Mr Browning told the hearing that King Salmon had a history of making mistakes, stopping when pulled up, then calling on its PR machine to regain favour. For example, the company moved a fish farm from Forsyth Bay to Waihinau when the site became toxic.

Truck and trailer-loads of dead fish had been removed from Waihinau this year and he did not accept claims the company did not know what caused the deaths.

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In its application, the company overlooked combined effects of its proposed new farms and 19 sites already consented for salmon farms, including two under appeal, Mr Browning said. The company operated six farms and was resting two sites.

In the last 10 years the area of marine farms in the Sounds had increased by 45 per cent, Mr Browning said.

In 2002, 571 sites gained consents for marine farming, with the consents covering 2710 ha. In 2012, 576 farms had consents covering 4212 ha. Growth was mostly due to expansion of existing farms.

Mr Browning said if the board went down the track of saying the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan had "done its dash", it had to be asked when marine industry growth would stop.

There was a lack of research into the effects of marine farming in the Sounds and science commissioned for marine farming applications was not independent, Mr Browning said.

For example, he had seen a scientist "delve and dodge" at a marine farming hearing, rather than repeat information given to the Marine Farming Association two weeks earlier.

Government was pushing to extend aquaculture rather than looking at its effects, he said.

The Marlborough Express