Fish farm plans for Crail Bay

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:05 06/03/2014

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New Zealand King Salmon wants approval to farm smolt in its Crail Bay farm, in preparation for farming salmon at new sites in Pelorus Sound which are yet to be approved by the Supreme Court.

The company has applied to the Marlborough District Council to restock its Crail Bay farm with smolt, which it would grow to supply young fish for the company's proposed new farms.

That new space is dependent on the result of an ongoing Supreme Court case, but King Salmon lawyer Quentin Davies told a council hearing in Blenheim yesterday that if approval was given for the new farms, the first should be ready for the first intake of young fish late this year.

"The company hopes to use one of its existing salmon farms in Crail Bay as a grow-out site for smolt for the first of those farms.

"These applications have been brought to facilitate that process and to enable the farm to be more useful in the long term."

An Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry last year approved four new farms for King Salmon, but this was challenged in the Supreme Court, which has yet to release its decision.

The Crail Bay farm site has been unused since late 2011, and the company is growing six lines of green-lipped mussels there.

As part of the application, King Salmon wants to use an onsite barge and change the layout of the farm to enable them to use four pens that could be rotated around the site, as well as new rules for seabed deposits from the fish.

The company argues the application should be approved as it does not plan to alter its farming activities, just to alter the conditions regulating those activities.

"There has been no fundamental change in the activity or use."

The changes would enable existing space to be better used for aquaculture and would allow the efficient development of King Salmon's new water space, it says.

"In addition, allowing pen rotation, use of a variety of pen structures, and an onsite barge will enable the Crail Bay farms to be used more efficiently.

"The effects of these applications on the Crail Bay environment are not anticipated to be more than minor and the proposals are consistent with the overarching principle of sustainable management."

The council hearing panel, chaired by independent commissioner John Milligan with councillors Jamie Arbuckle and David Oddie, heard from King Salmon witnesses yesterday in the first day of what is set down as a two-day hearing. Opposing the application are Kristen and Michael Gerard, the Kenepuru and Central Sounds Residents' Association, and Ngati Kuia.

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- The Marlborough Express

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