Salmon guidelines model of future?

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 06:50 10/12/2013

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Salmon farming guidelines being workshopped this week are aimed at increasing confidence in how farms are run and monitored.

The Marlborough District Council workshop in Blenheim yesterday and today covers best practice guidelines for salmon farming.

Guidelines for monitoring New Zealand King Salmon consents is the focus of a Cawthron Institute workshop in Nelson on Thursday.

Workshop participants including representatives from council, King Salmon and the Ministry for Primary Industries, along with aquaculture scientists and community representatives, toured salmon farms in Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel on Sunday.

Catriona Macleod of the University of Tasmania who is running the workshops for King Salmon and Scottish fish-farming expert Kenny Black who will review the results, were also on board.

King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said the workshops were about building relationships and looking after the environment to produce the world's best salmon.

If his company had known the council was opposed to its application to expand in an area where aquaculture was prohibited, it would not have gone straight to the adversarial setting of an Environmental Protection Authority hearing, Mr Rosewarne told the Marlborough Express.

He hoped that with better understanding, the community would gain confidence in the industry.

Eric Jorgensen, of the Sounds Advisory Group, said the Resource Management Act process for applying for more salmon farming space divided the community.

Writing fish-farming guidelines with scientists on board "is a bloody good place to start" breaking down divisions, he said.

"We are seeing different elements including New Zealand King Salmon coming together with advice from experts to see if there is a way forward," he said. "Maybe this could become a model for the future."

Council environmental protection officer Steve Urlich said King Salmon wanted "certainty" out of the process. "What we want is compliance," he said.

Council environment committee chairman Peter Jerram hoped the workshops would help keep the environment safe and the industry well managed.

A future regulatory regime should be simple and certain with clear safeguards, he said.

"A regulatory regime is necessary for that. We don't have that at present."

Ambiguous consent conditions meant experts interpreted monitoring results in different ways, making it hard to judge whether farms complied.

Salmon farms were not the only source of sediment on the seabed, Mr Jerram pointed out on the trip around Queen Charlotte Sound. The harvesting of forests and dredging also created sediment which collected on the sea floor.

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Topics aired during the visit to farms included coastal occupancy charges, fish-farming zones, access to fish-farming space, seabed impacts, fish diets, conversion of salmon feed to flesh, ways of dealing with problem seals and harmful algal blooms. The council, the Ministry for Primary Industries and King Salmon are splitting the cost of writing the guidelines and the workshops.

- The Marlborough Express

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