Private Plan Change to create AMA Areas

Sounds property owners , Tourism operators, recreational users, Sounds property owners, tourism operators, recreational users, fishermen, divers, walkers all need to be aware of the Councils current intent to have a variation to change the Sounds plan to get rid of the current Tendering process. This will enable any company applying for an AMA area can be assured they are successful in the resource consent process that they will be granted that area.

The government have instructed local government to create AMA (aquaculture marine areas.) This would be an unpopular move, council have collaborated with the aquaculture industry and told them if they get rid of the tendering process and give them surety the industry can then apply for whatever areas they want as AMA’s (eg areas which are currently prohibited)

This will facilitate another gold rush of applications. I realise the current state of the economy is not conducive to growth but it will pick up. As soon as demand exceeds supply the private plan changes will flood in. At the moment rules in the current plan are not robust enough to regulate or do compliance properly.

Council know and has said later this year they will have a variation to rewrite the Aquaculture laws.

This is fundamentally wrong, they are going to get rid of the tendering process. This will allow industry to choose their own AMA areas and have surety. Knowing that the public won’t be able to affect the process and later after the damage is done they will have an upgrade of the Aquaculture laws.

You say that the industry need surety; the public need surety as well.

This is the cart before the horse.

Council says it is user pays and why should the public have to fund AMA applications for the benefit of industry. That sounds reasonable, unfortunately we know what the end result of these changes will be. The establishment of AMA areas should have been a process instigated by council through a public consultation round so that the public have a chance to say if, where or not at all, with this process Industry chooses and the public have to use a very expensive process using lawyers to object.

The Sounds will become one great big aquaculture farm. We will be unable to stop it, at the hearings the applicants will have a couple of lawyers, RMA consultants, landscape architect, expert witnesses and if the public cannot match their line up, and of course we cannot, the economic argument will win every time. It will allow for privatisation of our sea bed.

Multinationals like King Salmon, Talleys, Sanfords, Sealords will be able to set their sights on bays and inlets, get their cheque books out and buy them. Council says this is rubbish! Look at the Pelorus Sound.

Look at Chile who started off with 2 salmon farms now they have 800 farms, with 2000 more applications in the pipe line. Technology exported to them by NZ King Salmon.

If council goes through with this folly, they need to somehow create a more level playing field, any applicant applying for a private plan change should be required to consult with all stakeholders and all sounds property owners to ensure that everyone is informed about the process.

For 15 yrs now the Guardians have acted as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, reacting to industry driven initiatives all condoned by the MDC, fast ferries, disastrous harvesting practices by unscrupulous logging companies,( no compliance ), 95 logging trucks a day rumbling through our village, Pike River wanting to make Picton into a dirty coal town.

Methyl bromide!

Collapse of the Blue cod Fishery.

All of these issues a result of the MDCs inability to change a district plan when it is found to have loop holes or it has not been robust enough. They continually give in to industry demands and in most cases accept the economic argument and expect the natural Environment to subsidise the economy.

As you know the natural resources of the Sounds are in a state of collapse, the environmental bank is in overdraft! Yet you are still making rules that will place even more pressure on the natural resources. When are you going to learn that the Sounds is Marl boroughs Natural Capital and like any business you have to maintain your capital!

The council encourages us to share our local knowledge about culture, history and environment, to use our vision of the future to help write long term strategic plans.

This we are most happy to help with. We need 500 year plans not 5 year plans. Our efforts are much better spent working on long term strategic sustainable management plans than they are in constantly reacting to environmental and social disasters.

So why is it that you wave the RPS about AND before its even completed you try and rush through short sighted plan changes that will have a disastrous effect on the long term sustainability of the Sounds ecosystem.

Getting rid of the tendering process to try and boost the economy and placate the aquaculture industry will be a permanent solution to a temporary economic clitch.

The economy will pick up again soon enough but if you allow privatisation of our seabed in the form of AMA’s this will never be reversed again in our lifetimes.

Why is this council so blind that it can’t learn from the mistakes of our forebears? What these rule changes are doing is allowing for the unfettered growth of aquaculture. A Mono culture!

The history of the Sounds can be described as a succession of monocultures,

Commercial sealing whaling, fishing, trawling, dredging, pastoral farming, forestry and now Aquaculture.

All these monocultures were dependant on natures natural resources in one way or another. Industry and council refuse to accept that nature wasn’t designed to support monocultures and when she says enough is enough, they collapse! What the hell lets make some short term cash and when it collapses the environment will clean up the mess.

The Sounds should be a National Park, it is not just nationally but internationally important. This is where council should be channeling their efforts, especially if you want to grow Marl borough’s economy, tourism in the Sounds generates up to 200 million dollars a year it is this provinces biggest earner and contrary to what I’m sure the aquaculture industry will have told you it is definitely not conducive to tourism.

Most of these tourists are Eco tourists, they want to see dolphins, seals, native birds, native bush believe you me they are appalled by the sight of mussel farms and especially salmon farms that have ruined entire sheltered coastal areas of Europe, UK, Canada and the USA. These people can’t understand why the Sounds are not a National Park.

The numbers of recreational boaties now using the Sounds all summer long is staggering, every sheltered anchorage has cruising boats jockeying for mooring space, and the Port Company want to put in new marinas to accommodate another 600 boats!

They say you wouldn’t put salmon Farms in Milford Sound so why would you allow them in this wonderful recreational area?

In this instance council have allowed a minority stakeholder to convince them to change the rules to accommodate them, by getting rid of the tendering process.

Council should not have the right to give away our seabed (public common) to a company with the biggest cheque book! without first having a tendering process which gives transparency and accountability. In effect the council will be giving a company a monopoly.

It is imperative that you the MDC use long term vision and preserve the Queen Charlotte sounds for recreation and tourism. It is regarded by all Sounds users as Public Common I implore you please don’t let it become the domain of the wealthy Multinational companies and don’t be so naïve to think that it wont happen. It’s happened with fin fish quota, crayfish, paua quota, the mussel industry started out being pioneered by mum and dad pastoral farmers look at it now most are owned by multinational companies.

King salmon is Malaysian owned. Sure they are putting money into development but in future the profits will go off shore, they employ over 350 people only 50 odd are employed in Marlborough. The other factories are in Nelson, they pollute our Sounds and the benefits go to the Nelson region.

Salmon farms whether you believe it or not are the biggest polluters in the Sounds, King Salmon don’t deny this they just expect you will allow them to expand and ignore the pollution because of the perceived benefits to Marl boroughs economy.

They dump over 12200 tons of feed into our ecosystem every year, which results in thousands of tons of methane gas, ammonia gas, phosphate, and huge amounts of nitrogen that is absorbed into the water column and dispersed all around the Sounds by tidal flow.

In Tory channel the kelp from one end to the other is covered with a layer of silt which we suspect is the talcum powder like faeces from the farms.

In the last 5 years council have ignored the Sounds people’s plea’s and allowed extensions and new Salmon farms now you want to change the district plans to allow for the unfettered growth of aquaculture.

We have only ever done it once before, but on this issue Guardians are asking the Parliamentary Commissioner of the environment to peer review council processes we believe that you have put the cart before the horse you have collaborated with industry but had no consultation with Sounds people or the tourism industry which will be drastically effected by these plan changes.

What makes councils attitude with these short sighted changes so hard to accept is the fact that over the last 10 yrs Marlborough people have taken ownership of the Sounds. Every year as the native vegetation recovers the sounds is becoming more and more beautiful.

Look at DOC’s initiatives, the million dollar upgrade of Ship Cove, new wharf at Motuara, the establishment of new Island bird sanctuaries, Kaipupu point being a community lead project, the Wilding Pine eradication project being under taken by a local trust with support of Council and DOC, a Sustainable Management plan to restore the Sounds blue cod fishery. These are all wonderful long term strategic, sustainable management plans for a healthy future for our beautiful sounds.

Why would you want to stuff it all up by putting rules in place that will allow it to become one great big aquaculture farm.

DOC strategy says that there should be no aquaculture around islands, remember that? , and remember also that Arapawa is an island!

There is a place for Aquaculture , the open sea where they can have huge farms and their waste will be distributed and diluted by the ocean.

This plan change saddens me because I have witnessed the effect that the short sighted plan change had on the East bay community which has resulted in a 10 year struggle between Aquaculture industry, Council and community you need to learn from this. The Sounds community will not be bullied, if you push ahead with this plan change you will be creating a culture of discontent, frustration and anger that will fester in the hearts and minds of Sounds people because it is an injustice.

No matter how wealthy the multinationals are we will not sit idly by, while you sell our seabed and our heritage.

Think long and hard about this because you are creating a law which will disenfranchise your great grandchildren.

Pete Beech, Guardians of the Sounds.

Mark Denise, East Bay Conservation Society