Salmon farms: The Tasmania lesson
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.