Salmon-farm film makes waves

Footage of a barren ocean floor filmed under King Salmon's Waihinau farm, followed by an elderly viewer labelling the approval process undemocratic, caused a stir at the screening of Against the Current in Picton.

University student Laura Honey's 25-minute documentary about King Salmon's controversial Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) application, through which it has gained preliminary approval to build four new farms in the Marlborough Sounds, was screened in Picton and Havelock on Monday night.

Speaking at the conclusion of the packed screening at the Picton Little Theatre, Ms Honey said that, "at the end of the day, I was telling the community's story and I was really attracted to the fight they were fighting".

She admitted she made a submission to the EPA against King Salmon's proposal halfway through filming the documentary, but later withdrew it, and said she was "naive" going into the project.

Additional footage from conservationist group Sustain Our Sounds was shown after the documentary and showed a barren wasteland with worms under the Waihinau farm last year.

Green MP Steffan Browning explained how the Marlborough District Council formed its environmental plan for the Marlborough Sounds, which the EPA board of inquiry over-ruled to allow the farms, and added, "what's happened here is a section of industry has said: ‘plan be damned' ".

An elderly woman stood and claimed the Government "has sidestepped our elected council and our democratic rights are being absolutely trampled over".

In Havelock, some 60 residents turned out to watch the documentary earlier in the evening at the Pelorus Boating Club.

"I thought it was excellent. I certainly learned something new about what the salmon are fed as well the effect of the pollution," said Sounds resident Lyn Duffy.

Another resident, Paul Eglinton said, that he wished a documentary such Against the Current could have been shown at the start of the application.

"It would certainly have helped inform people of what it is all about," said Mr Englinton.

"I thought it represented both sides fairly.

"The issue isn't balanced so it is difficult to say whether the documentary was balanced."

Dutch national Gabe von den Boon, who is staying with friends in Havelock before heading to Christchurch, said he would have liked to see a politician at a national level comment in the film.

"This is a national issue so I would have liked to see someone at a national level being interviewed," said Mr von den Boon.

The Marlborough Express