Water space 'would be enough'

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 11:30 01/11/2012

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New Zealand King Salmon will not need to apply for any more water space if their application to build nine new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds is successful, chief executive Grant Rosewarne says.

"It's my personal belief that if we were granted the extra water space, I don't see how we'd ever need more," Mr Rosewarne said yesterday, clarifying a comment he made to the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and BNZ Partners' Speaker Series meeting in Blenheim on Tuesday. "We are aiming for value over volume."

Mr Rosewarne said that he did not want to comment on the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry hearing while the board was still considering the company's application.

If granted, construction of the new fish farms would begin within two years, but it could take up to 15 to reach full production capacity, he said. It would depend on demand for the products.

The company's premium branded products aimed at high-end markets meant they were able to focus on quality, not quantity, he said.

New Zealand King Salmon has applied for consent to farm on 206 surface hectares over nine new sites in the Marlborough Sounds. However, only a total of 12ha would be farmed at any one time, with the remainder still open to the public for fishing, he said.

The extra space would increase the bio-security of the farm. The company could move the farm cages around within the permitted space to rest the sea floor, he said.

The company employs 470 people, he said. That was made up of 70 in Marlborough and 400 in Nelson. The company grows all its fish in the Marlborough Sounds and processes the fish in Nelson.

As the business improved efficiencies, about 70 positions across the board would go, including about 10 from the Marlborough workforce, he said.

"Like any company, we are constantly making improvements and getting more efficient with time, which will have an impact on positions."

However, the company's expansion plans would create extra positions and some of those would be based in Marlborough, he said.

He estimated the total workforce after expansion would be 770 positions.

"That's the choice people have between growing businesses and employing more people, or not if the resources are not available," he said.

Their relationship with the Marlborough community has taken a beating during the hearing, he said.

"We've certainly been a controversial company.

"I make the joke that once we were very popular.

"I think we still probably are very popular over the other side of the hill [Nelson] but we've certainly encountered our opposition here."

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- The Marlborough Express

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