King Salmon withdraws support from wildlife trust

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 06:54 28/03/2013
Leona Plaisier
Leona Plaisiers petition against increasing the number of salmon farming in the Sounds

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New Zealand King Salmon has stopped its $12,000-a-year sponsorship of the Tui Nature Reserve Wildlife Trust in Pelorus Sound after the trust opposed plans for new salmon farms.

Trust chairman Brian Plaisier said yesterday he was disappointed and surprised by King Salmon's decision, given the reserve's "polite participation" in the Environmental Protection Agency's board of inquiry into the proposed farms.

The sponsorship was based on two existing farms in the Pelorus Sound and was beneficial for both parties, Mr Plaisier said.

Tui Nature Reserve was restoring the land adjacent to the Waitata and Richmond farms, he said.

"The lack of runoff from our land is helping to create the clean water so desired by King Salmon to produce their profits from this environment."

In an email to Mr Plaisier last week, King Salmon operations manager Mark Gillard said: "I have had a discussion with Grant [Rosewarne, New Zealand King Salmon chief executive] about renewing sponsorship. Unfortunately we cannot see ourselves renewing this given the different views we have about being able to co-exist."

Mr Plaisier said the wildlife reserve expressed its concerns about the nine new farms at an early stage to King Salmon.

"It was accepted that we had no other option than to oppose the proposal to justify our goals for the sanctuary and the wider Marlborough Sounds," he said. "Is it naive to think that if you "oppose" a sponsor, you can still count on their support? And where does this leave all the other conservation projects sponsored by King Salmon or has Tui Nature Reserve been singled out because we opposed them?"

People in Marlborough were stressed and under pressure because of the King Salmon expansion plan and community relations needed to be rebuilt, Mr Plaisier said.

Tui Nature Reserve would continue to restore the native forest and its wildlife with the help of existing and new sponsors.

NZ King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said he was surprised by the Plaisiers' application after their opposition.

"We did sponsor the Tui Nature Reserve for a number of years but the Plaisiers made, in our view, comments that were untrue about salmon farming [at the EPA Board of Inquiry]," Mr Rosewarne said.

"Why would they ask for funding from someone whose values don't align with theirs? You can't say: ‘We don't believe in what you do, but we want to be sponsored by you'. You can't have it both ways."

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King Salmon had extended an "olive branch" to the Plaisiers many times but it was always rebuffed, Mr Rosewarne said.

King Salmon wanted to rebuild its relationship with the community but the Tui Nature Reserve wasn't top of their list.

The company continued to sponsor the Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust and the Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary.

The EPA's board of inquiry decided in January that King Salmon could have four new salmon farms in areas of the Sounds that the council had banned marine farming from.

- The Marlborough Express

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