Millions wasted

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 06:51 09/12/2013

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A Scottish fish-farming expert is advising New Zealand King Salmon and its opponents to put conflict behind them and work together towards industry guidelines.

The Marlborough Sounds were a paradise for fish farming with no salmon pests and diseases, said Kenny Black on a visit to King Salmon farms in Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel yesterday.

This week Professor Black will help the Marlborough District Council work out best practices for salmon farming and guidelines for monitoring, with input from the Ministry for Primary Industries, scientists monitoring farm compliance, the Sounds Advisory Group and Catriona Macleod, of the University of Tasmania.

Millions of dollars had been wasted as King Salmon applied for space to build new farms, Prof Black said. In a legal setting, parties were obliged to take a certain stand and avoid compromise.

Now they could take the more-mature approach of working together towards protocols that regulated the environment while being fair to all parties, he said.

The Scottish fish-farming industry had moved on from friction in the 1990s, since working together on a ministerial working group of all stakeholders. King Salmon's Te Pangu and Clay Point farms in Tory Channel were "the way of the future with no big waves and a cracking current", Prof Black said.

The company might offer to relinquish consents for less productive farms, in return for Tory Channel becoming a fin-fish farming area, he suggested.

Dr Mcleod also saw the potential for common ground on the tour of the King Salmon farms.

Conflict and controversy over salmon farms in Tasmania had gradually settled down as people talked to one another, she said.

"I'm not saying the way we manage farms is better but the way we communicate is exceptional."

Before setting conditions for salmon farms, the council should understand people's priorities, Dr Mcleod said.

Council environment committee chairman Peter Jerram said he was looking forward to "the beginning of the end of tensions" and science-based salmon farming guidelines.

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- The Marlborough Express

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