Judge appreciates young ideas

03:02, Oct 10 2012

Sixth generation Marlborough Sounds resident Patrick Gerard earned accolades from Judge Gordon Whiting at the Environmental Protection Authority hearing at the Portage Resort Hotel on Monday.

Judge Whiting, who heads the board of inquiry considering whether New Zealand King Salmon can build nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds, said he appreciated young people like 16-year-old Patrick sharing their ideas.

The Nelson Boys' College student and resident of Hopai Bay, in Pelorus Sound, said the proposed term of consent for the salmon farms was 35 years, until 2047. By then, few people in the room would be alive.

Thirty-five years back in time, the number one selling album in New Zealand was The Best of ABBA, punk music was just beginning and everyone was watching Saturday Night Fever.

"How many of you were jiving to that?" he asked.

Judge Whiting said he had a correction to make to Patrick's evidence. Jiving pre-dated ABBA and rock ‘n roll and he could still dance to Lady Gaga with his grandchildren.

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Patrick said aquaculture-prohibited zones where King Salmon had applied to build farms were a snapshot of Sounds history worth protecting. Returning home from school, he enjoyed the peacefulness of the non-industrialised Sounds at Hopai where his family farmed and in Port Gore in the outer Sounds where they holidayed.

Patrick's mother, Kristen Gerard, was angry the nine applications for farm space were being heard as one because site-specific landscape considerations might not be given justice.

Sounds property owners who had watched "massive expansion" of aquaculture worried about the precedent if the King Salmon application was successful, Mrs Gerard said.

The company went about about site selection with great secrecy because they knew there were others "sniffing around", she said.

These competitors might follow behind.

If the board allowed marine farms in prohibited areas, this could devalue previously unmodified landscapes, so easing the way of future applications through the resource consent process, Mrs Gerard said.

King Salmon expert Frank Boffa had suggested a proposed farm at Papatua in Port Gore should not include accommodation barges, because this was a significant landscape. However, the absence of a barge would be negated by a service vessel and work boats coming and going.

Mrs Gerard said rough weather in Gore Bay risked predator exclusion nets at the proposed Papatua farm being damaged, then entangling dolphins.

King Salmon reports had mentioned a policy of no guns except in extreme circumstances, Mrs Gerard said.

"We don't believe they should have the right to shoot anything in a marine environment," she said.

The Marlborough Express