Crail Bay can reopen for smoult raising

New Zealand King Salmon has been granted resource consents to re-open its Crail Bay farm to raise smoult.

A decision by a panel of independent commissioner and chairman John Milligan and councillors Jamie Arbuckle and David Oddie, approved the application to have two salmon pens for smoult, or baby salmon, rotating them around the site to ensure they did not affect the seabed too much.

King Salmon asked for alterations to its resource consent to enable it to use different cages and to enable those cages to move round the site. The original consent expressly ruled that out.

However, the panel said the rotational system sought by King Salmon would improve, "albeit in a small way", the efficient use and development of the farm, and would contribute to the longevity of salmon farming on the site.

King Salmon also proposed different monitoring and compliance conditions to enable it to stay within seabed pollution limits.

The panel's decision says those alterations would "alter, to some extent, the way in which environmental effects of the salmon farming operation will impact but without altering, in any significant way, the nature or extent of those impacts".

The site had a valid consent to farm salmon, but there is not a farm in operation there now.

The panel said a salmon farm operating under a new consent with upgraded conditions would be better than one that could operate under the rules of the original consent.

"We conclude that the purpose of the Resource Management Act would be better met by approval of the . . . application and grant of . . . consent than would be the case were the present applications refused."

King Salmon environmental compliance manager Mark Gillard said the company would wait until the appeal period expired before stocking the farm with smoult.

The fish would eventually go on to be raised to harvest size on King Salmon's proposed Pelorus Sound farms which are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether they can go ahead.

The four farms, of the nine King Salmon applied for, were approved by the Environmental Protection Authority's board of inquiry in 2012, but that decision was appealed to the High Court by Sustain Our Sounds and the Environmental Defence Society. That appeal was lost, but both groups appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Marlborough Express