Four fish farms approved

Location of proposed plan change and resource consent sites
Location of proposed plan change and resource consent sites

The Environmental Protection Authority's board of inquiry has approved four new salmon farms for the Marlborough Sounds in a decision announced today.

The authority's board of inquiry sat for nine weeks in Blenheim in August, September and October, hearing about 1200 submissions on NZ King Salmon's proposal to set up nine new salmon farms in areas of the Marlborough Sounds where marine farming is banned under the Marlborough District Council's resource managment plans.

The board's draft report and decision on New Zealand King Salmon's proposal ruled that

  1. farms at Papatua, Ngamahau, Waitata and Richmond were allowed
  2. farms at Kaitapeha, Ruaomoko, Kaitira and Tapipi farms were declined
  3. and the White Horse Rock farm was also declined.

The draft decision and report can be found by clicking on 'Draft report and decision

The provisions of the plan change request and conditions of the resource consent applications are detailed in the document.

The resource consents for the four sites that have been approved have been granted for a 35 year term. 

The draft report and decision is now open for comment by New Zealand King Salmon, all submitters, the Minister of Conservation, the Minister for the Environment and Marlborough District Council.

They can make comment on minor and technical aspects of the report only, not on the Board of Inquiry's decision or its reasons for that decision.

Comments will be received from these parties by the EPA in writing until 5pm on 8 February 2013, after which the Board will consider the comments and provide its final report and decision on or before 22 February 2013, within the timeframe approved by the Minister of Conservation.

NZ King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said the company was disappointed with the decision, which he described as "such a missed opportunity for Marlborough, Nelson, New Zealand and the company".

The company believed it had demonstrated that salmon farming in New Zealand was the most sustainable way of producing protein in the planet, he said.

"We can create a high value, highly nutritious product sought after around the world that earns good export income.

"We're at a loss as why we were only granted four farms."

NZ King Salmon would be making submissions on the draft decision, particularly on resource consent being declined for White Horse Rock.

"It's in zone 2 (where marine farming is allowed), so we're extremely surprised that it's not even in the mix. ''We've bought the site, in the aquaculture zone, right next to another granted farm. It's hard to understand that decision so we certainly need to look into that."

Response from the Marlborough District Council

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the Marlborough District Council needed to understand why the board had gone against the long-established Marlborough position that activity in the Sounds should be clearly separated with one area for industry, another for recreation.

Mr Sowman stressed that the council itself never had a fully developed position on the King Salmon application because, as the local authority, it never had the opportunity to consider the merits of the proposal through its existing processes. The council has said  only that it did not believe that its resource management plan should be set aside,
he said.

The district council would also have to consider the precedent-setting implications in the  decision for future aquaculture activity in the Marlborough Sounds, he said.

"However, before we make any detailed comment about the planning issues within this report, we will need to study it and fully consider the implications for the Marlborough Sounds." 

However,  that a draft decision had recommended four new sites be approved, the council would work with King Salmon to progress its plans, Mr Sowman said.

"We look forward to engaging with the company - particularly to hear more about its plans for job expansion within Marlborough." 

A salmon processing plant in Picton would be the ideal outcome for this region now that the company has the go-ahead to expand, he said.

"I believe King Salmon is acutely aware that they have a big public relations challenge ahead with a significant portion of the Marlborough community. But I am sure that the company will put time and effort into building bridges here and the Council will be very open to working with King Salmon," he said. 


The Marlborough Express