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NZ King Salmon to keep lobbying govt over Marlborough farms, says report is out of date

Thursday 15th February 2018

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New Zealand King Salmon says it will continue to push for more salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds to be moved, following a report by an independent panel recommending to the government that three of the six farms be relocated.

The independent panel released the report to the previous National government in July 2017, following public hearings in April and May that year. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said yesterday that he is "some months" from making a decision, and released the report to enable the people and groups who made submissions to study it while he considers the next steps.

NZ King Salmon managing director Grant Rosewarne told BusinessDesk two objections to the farms are now out of date, as the industry's technological development is moving very fast.

"The report is now six-and-a-half months old: it's already out of date," Rosewarne said. "One of the objections is visual impact, that was mentioned in the three farms that were declined. When we put this up working with MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries), we put in infrastructure that was best practice at the time, since then there is new infrastructure that has a 90 percent reduction in visual impact. This is a stunning reduction in six months, and the board didn't consider that.

"It also mentioned navigation problems - there are stunning navigational aids now which are virtually invisible to the naked eye but light up like a Christmas tree when something approaches.

"The regulators really need to regulate for outcomes, because every time they try to regulate for how we're going to get there, the industry comes up with a better way of doing something, and then we get caught out with antiquated regulations that just retard the industry from going forward and getting a better, more environmentally friendly outcome," he said. 

Rosewarne said the company hadn't yet talked to the new Fisheries Minister Nash, but continues to seek to do so. 

The report recommended relocating the farm in Otanerau Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound to Tio Point in Tory Channel; the farm in Waihinau Bay to Richmond Bay South, both in Pelorus Sound; and the farm in Ruakaka Bay to Horseshoe Bay in Pelorus Sound. The panel also considered three other salmon farms - one in Forsyth Bay and two in Crail Bay - but didn't recommend they be moved. There are currently 12 sites in the Marlborough Sounds which have resource consent for finfish farming, with all but one operated by New Zealand King Salmon.

The panel warned that the minister should be aware of the depth of public opposition and that the salmon farming industry is going to find its future difficult through the RMA and resource planning processes.

Rosewarne said the company enjoys majority support in the community but there is "small but vocal" minority which is opposed to its presence. 

The company's shares last traded at $2.09, up 2 percent today, and have gained 24 percent in the last year.


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