Sal­mon farms: The Tas­ma­nia les­son

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - ELENA MCPHEE

An over­seas sal­mon farm where ma­rine life is strug­gling to sur­vive is stir­ring up fears in the top of the south as res­i­dents con­sider a sal­mon farm pro­posal.

The Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries has an­nounced it could move up to six New Zealand King Sal­mon farms in the Pelorus Sound to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions — over­rid­ing the coun­cil’s re­source man­age­ment plan.

How­ever, Pelorus Sound man Lau­rence O’Connell be­lieves the poor state of a har­bour in Tas­ma­nia, the sub­ject of a law­suit be­tween sal­mon farm­ers and the state’s gov­ern­ment, casts doubt on the idea.

But the sug­ges­tion that there are sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the Tas­ma­nian and the Sounds sit­u­a­tions has rub­bished by King Sal­mon’s boss.

Tas­ma­nia’s Mac­quarie Har­bour sal­mon farm sites hit the head­lines last year, when a Tas­ma­nian sal­mon farmer ex­pressed con­cerns in an ABC doc­u­men­tary.

ABC pub­lished state­ments from a sci­en­tific re­port in Jan­uary say­ing sal­mon and other ma­rine crea­tures in Mac­quarie Har­bour were suf­fer­ing due to dras­ti­cally low lev­els of oxy­gen.

No liv­ing ma­rine crea­tures could be found within 500 me­tres of the cages at one sal­mon farm site.

The 20,000-tonne limit for sal­mon in Mac­quarie Har­bour was cut back to 14,000 tonnes last month.

O’Connell said the con­clu­sions drawn in En­vi­ron­ment Tas­ma­nia’s case study of the har­bour seemed to be been ‘‘di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed’’ to what MPI was propos­ing to do, in­tro­duc­ing five sal­mon farms in the Pelorus Sound.

Hav­ing off­shore farms, as some other coun­tries were be­gin­ning to do, would be a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive, O’Connell said.

New Zealand King Sal­mon chief ex­ec­u­tive Grant Rose­warne said Mac­quarie Har­bour was one site, whereas in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds sal­mon farms would be found in both the Pelorus and Queen Char­lotte sounds.

The Tas­ma­nian sit­u­a­tion was so dif­fer­ent to Marl­bor­ough there was no real com­par­i­son, he said. King Sal­mon’s farms would ini­tially be on a much smaller scale, though by about 2034 it was pos­si­ble the farms could pro­duce about 20,000 tonnes of sal­mon.

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the pro­posal closes on March 27.

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