Coastal occupancy charges floated
It is time to give local government the ability to charge rates on water occupation, first-term councillor Jessica Bagge says.
Ms Bagge told the Environmental Protection Authority in Blenheim on Tuesday that the Marlborough Sounds was possibly the best place in the world to farm salmon. However, like any farming operation, it changed the environment.
The Government needed to legislate to enable councils to introduce coastal occupancy charges, Ms Bagge told the board of inquiry deciding whether King Salmon should be allowed to build new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds. The Marlborough council did not want to introduce the charges, then have to fight through the courts to keep them.
People had shown a lot of passion about waste from salmon farms going into the environment, she said. To be consistent, they should also be looking at sewage from lodges, dairy effluent, and logs ending up in rivers and the sea.
King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne had told Ms Bagge wages and salaries paid to salmon farm workers in Marlborough would double from $5 million to $10m if the proposed farms were built. This investment would help make a strong, vibrant community, she said.
Ms Bagge made a neutral submission on the plan change and resource consents needed by King Salmon to build eight of its nine proposed farms in an area of the Sounds where aquaculture is prohibited. The council is fighting this challenge to its Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan.
She said if she had not been a councillor she would not have submitted.
"We are not all semi-retired, self-made and able to afford million-dollar properties in the Sounds," she said.
In other submissions:
- Destination Marlborough board member Brent Marshall supported King Salmon's expansion because of economic benefits, including more flights into Blenheim. The Blenheim hotel owner and recreational fisherman did not believe pollution from the farms would be at an unacceptable level or that the scale of the application was big enough to hurt the tourism industry.
- Salmon-farming pioneer Clive Barker supported the application because in high-flow sites, fish-farm pollution was quickly dispersed and taken up by the marine food chain more effectively than waste from land animals. Sea farming would meet growing demand for food. Figures cited by people submitting against the farms, comparing waste from fish, cattle and humans, were inaccurate, he said. Aquaculture programmes in schools would lead to more informed debate about marine farming.
- The Marlborough Express