Conditions for monitoring salmon pollution 'vague'
The commissioner deciding whether New Zealand King Salmon can change the way it monitors its Clay Point farm says the proposed new conditions are vague.
Marlborough District Council commissioner John Milligan asked on the second day of a hearing in Blenheim last week why King Salmon used a diagram to show the area where pollution from the Tory Channel farm would deposit rather than accurate points on a map.
Also, the scale used to measure and describe pollution inside this area had changed as science developed and could continue to do so. This might make it difficult to compare results over time, he said.
"Let's assume I'm a properly qualified marine biologist pissed off about marine farming and King Salmon in particular and I want to determine . . . whether conditions of consent are being complied with," Mr Milligan said.
It might be impossible to find sampling sites without visiting Nelson's Cawthron Institute, which designed and carried out monitoring, or the council, he said.
Planner and King Salmon expert Sarah Dawson said the seabed environment constantly changed because of shifting currents and storms, so boundaries could not be consistent. However, results should be valid if samples were taken at set distances from fish pens and within the farm's 31 hectare footprint results, she said.
Council resource management officer Bruno Brosnan said the council supported the new conditions because they put numbers to words describing farm effects on the seabed. This would give weight to the conditions so the council could take action if farms did not comply.
However, he would like to see conditions allowing the council to demand more samples where farms were being run close to environmental limits.
Meet existing consents
Manwhile, people opposing the New Zealand King Salmon application to rewrite conditions for their Clay Point fish farm should they should meet existing conditions first.
The company has applied to the Marlborough District Council to change the way it monitors its Clay Point farm, one of eight farms run in the Marlborough Sounds, and give these fish 500 tonnes more feed for nine months from next month.
Feeding the fish more would increase pollution in the Marlborough Sounds, triggering bigger and more frequent toxic algal blooms, they say.
East Bay Conservation Society member Mark DEenize said it was "like a moveable feast".
"Once a dairy farmer buys his property he has to manage all environmental effects within his boundary. He can't ask neighbours, ‘can I have a bit more of your land over which our environmental footprint exceeds what's sustainable'?"
Objector Rob Schuckard said conditions focused only on the 15 per cent of fish waste that ended up on the seabed and ignored the 85 per cent dissolved in water. A representative of Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay and Sustain Our Sounds, he said strong currents meant this dissolved waste could drift and increase the size and frequency of toxic algal blooms.
Council commissioner John Milligan said it might be difficult to prove a link between a fish farm and a far-off algal bloom.
Hanneke Kroon, of Elie Bay in Pelorus Sound, said King Salmon knowingly overstocked its Clay Point farm to increase profits and should be required to de-stock rather than allowed more feed.
Parties opposing the Clay Point application have slammed the council for refusing to release a report it commissioned by Scottish marine scientist Kenny Black. The report reviewed a council assessment of King Salmon compliance and would have been relevant to this application, they say.
- The Marlborough Express