Residents show their concerns

22:30, Oct 07 2012

Some Queen Charlotte Sound residents claim New Zealand King Salmon overlooked the contribution of bach owners and minimised risks to boat-owners, in assessing the impacts of fish farms it has applied to build in the Marlborough Sounds.

Queen Charlotte Sound Residents' Association secretary Monyeen Wedge, of Lochmara Bay, and Biosecurity Limited director John Hellstrom, of Endeavour Inlet, opposed King Salmon's application to build nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds at an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) hearing at Waikawa Marae on Thursday.

Ms Wedge said King Salmon's tourism and recreational assessment report was "deficient" because it failed to include people who contributed economic benefits to the area by returning to their baches for holidays.

She estimated that 2666 homes were used by people holidaying in the Sounds for an average of six weeks a year, contributing about $16 million to the economy. Boat mooring fees could also account for about an extra $8m, she said.

The company had under-valued the tourism and recreational sector's value to the local economy which was at risk from proposed salmon farms putting off potential holidaymakers.

She refuted the company's claim that Tory Channel was a thoroughfare not a destination and doubted it would establish a factory in Picton when it would be easier for it to create a new one near its existing factory and head office in Nelson.

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The EPA board of inquiry needed to give weight to the Marlborough District Council's Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan and not allow the King Salmon proposal to side-step existing prohibited area rules, she said.

Mr Hellstrom opposed the proposal on the grounds the farms would look ugly, were not thoroughly assessed for their threat to the environment, and could negatively impact boat navigation.

Ferry passengers and recreational boats would be faced with the farms which would create a negative view of the Sounds and hinder navigation, he said.

Risk assessments failed to take into account the "unexpected".

"Any new salmon farms will increase the risk of collisions," he said. "In the case of the farms at Waitata Reach and particularly at the east entry to Pelorus Sound and the inner entrance to Tory Channel, there will be a new risk of small craft being forced into more hazardous areas, particularly during poor weather conditions."

His company has provided advice on biosecurity, biodiversity and related issues to a range of clients including government departments over the past 15 years, he said.

"The application is essentially about a trade-off between maximising profitability for New Zealand King Salmon and the erosion of ecological, landscape and other values for all other users of the Sounds' resources."

Mr Hellstrom asked the EPA board to decline the aquaculture company's proposal to build farms at Kaitira, Kaitapeha and Ruaomoko, increase monitoring of existing farms, and include a consent condition for the provision of regular tourist access to at least one of any approved farms because "otherwise their argument for industrial tourism is a moot point".

The Marlborough Express