Guardians of the Sounds
Wake up, Marlborough. The Pelorus already has 800-plus licensed mussel and salmon farms. The permitted zones are full.
They have filled in all the gaps and are now applying to “double park” farms one outside the other.
If there are markets, and legislation allows, industry will grow to meet this demand.
This is what King Salmon’s private plan change is about to change our district plan to allow the company to apply for farms in prohibited areas.
King Salmon is only applying for eight farm sites. Be clear this is just the first application for the private plan change. If this is granted, it will start a “gold rush”.
Remember, other than the processing fees, companies don’t have to buy the site. They get it for nothing. The next day it’s worth a fortune; they can lease it, sell it or farm it, they don’t have to pay rates.
This is a great investment and will be capitalised on by companies and, just like the fishing, dairy and grape industries, will be bought out by large multi-national companies.
Initially, I suspect they will start partnerships and joint ventures with iwi, who have already formed a natural grouping to facilitate commercial ventures to capitalise on the new legislation. Government has already gazetted water space for them to accommodate their 20 per cent allocation, in prohibited zones.
Like the grape industry, the new companies will eventually import foreign labour who will work for minimum wages. Wages and profit will go offshore.
King Salmon is applying for licences as controlled activities. This will give them a 35-year tenure and the council will have a legal obligation to renew for another 35 years.
This is ownership in perpetuity. Ownership; privatisation of a public resource.
What impact would another 100 or 500 fish and mussel farms have on the Sounds?
The Sustain Our Sounds group has worked out the population equivalent of waste from eight new salmon farms being equivalent to the sewage of more than 500,000 people.
Our lakes and rivers have become polluted by nitrogen from the dairy industry. Dairy farms are no longer allowed to release waste into waterways. Why the double standard?
Up to 26 tonnes of feed a day is fed into each farm. Twenty per cent of the waste falls to the bottom as nutrients; 80 per cent (nitrogens) are mixed into the water column and circulated all around the Sounds.
We believe this intensification will cause pollution and disease, followed by toxic algal blooms. These can kill fish stocks while the paralytic blooms can kill people and others cause rashes and sores.
The Aquaculture Reform Bill introduced in October allows for change of species, which means that if mussel farming becomes uneconomic companies can change to fish farming. As the water temperature rises as predicted, they will explore farming native species like hapuka and snapper, which, if they get diseased and escape, will cause disease in our native stocks.
What value do we place on the Sounds recreational, customary and tourism use?
King Salmon has convinced Destination Marlborough that fish farming is compatible with tourism.
Most tourists come to look at nature, bush walks, birds and dolphins. They are well travelled many have visited Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef.
Many are familiar with the tragedy of the commons that salmon farming has caused worldwide and are disappointed that we haven’t learned from those mistakes. They don’t understand why a treasure like the Sounds isn’t a national maritime park.
The Guardians believe the Sounds should have an integrated management structure, with a long-term vision on how we can best protect and preserve our Sounds environment and culture for generations to come.
Are you comfortable with the Sounds being privatised and industrialised by multi-national companies?
Join the Sustain Our Sounds group created to facilitate this campaign on behalf of the Marlborough community. It has an experienced lawyer, committee and scientific team, and will present a legal challenge to King Salmon’s private plan change application at the Environmental Protection Authority hearing and defend the Marlborough District Council Sounds’ plan.
Call me on 03 573 6901 and check the website on how to make a submission at sustainoursounds.org.nz
Stand up and be counted or the Sounds will become another “paradise lost” because of greed and short-term gain.