Arapawa resident upset at beach waste

Last updated 15:07 23/12/2013

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An Arapawa Island resident dumped a box of mussel harvesting waste on the floor at a Marlborough District Council hearing this month.

East Bay Conservation Society president Mark Denize opposed an application by the Schwass Family Partnership for consents for two existing farms at Onauku Bay on Arapawa Island.

He told council commissioner John Milligan he was sick of picking up mussel industry waste from the beach in front of his home.

Bruce Lock, of Picton, who is advising the trust told the Marlborough Express that the society's objection to marine farming debris was directed at the industry as a whole and was not relevant to this application.

The rubbish Mr Denize tipped on the floor included cut-off pieces of nylon loops used to attach mussel lines to backbone ropes, strung between buoys. These were dropped in the sea along with waste as lines were fed through tumblers to remove mussels.

Mr Denize complained to the council about plastic pollution on November 1, saying it washed up along 200 metres of beach after mussel harvesting over the previous three days.

A mussel industry clean-up of the beach three weeks later was not effective, Mr Denize told the Express. An hour later he collected another half-bucket of rubbish.

"The industry's voluntary accord to keep plastic out of the ocean is a joke and I am convinced that nothing will be changed until the MDC send them a strong message," he wrote to the council.

Mr Denize said the aquaculture industry claimed that similar volumes of domestic and marine farming rubbish washed up in the Sounds. However, some marine debris, like floats, was large and unravelled loop line was especially offensive as strands became tangled with seaweed and buried in sand.

Marine farming consultancy Aquaculture Direct suggested that he sit alongside mussel farms during harvesting and photograph anything that went over the side, Mr Denize said. However, he was not prepared to point a camera at people working.

At the hearing, Mr Denize requested a condition requiring companies to filter all harvesting waste and dump solids at landfills.

Marine Farming Association executive officer Graeme Coates said the association employed three part-time staff on its beach clean-up programme covering the Marlborough Sounds, Golden Bay and Tasman Bay.

Clean-ups were more frequent in hot-spots where debris collected, usually in northwest facing bays, Mr Coates said.

To report environmental concerns about the marine industry in the top of the South Island, call 0800 433 2747 [0800 4DEBRIS].

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