The board of inquiry on NZ King Salmon Ltd’s application to develop new marine farms in the Marlborough Sounds has decided to approve 4 farms, consistent with last year’s draft report.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith was pleased, but the Environment Defence Society said it would appeal against one farm’s approval.
Dr Smith said following release of the board’s final report yesterday: “The board has undertaken a thorough process, being mindful of the need for New Zealand to conserve its natural resources with the need to grow exports, jobs & wealth.
“These farms will occupy an area of just 6ha of surface water space out of a total of about 100,000ha in the Marlborough Sounds. They will enable King Salmon to grow its production from 7500 to 15,000 tonnes/year, employ another 170 people and boost its annual export earnings by an extra $60 million.
“The board’s report is the product of the Government’s resource management & aquaculture reforms. The old process for acquiring new aquaculture space was cumbersome and could take over a decade for decisions to be made. The Government addressed this by giving specific recognition to aquaculture in the NZ coastal policy statement, amending the Resource Management Act to enable coastal plan changes & consents to be considered in a single process and creating the Environmental Protection Authority to allow for consenting of proposals of national significance.”
Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said acknowledged that the board had declined consent for 5 sites but said it had not gone far enough: “The areas the industrial-scale consented farms are to be located in are highly natural and in prominent locations in the iconic & internationally renowned Marlborough Sounds.
“The council plan for the Sounds already sets a clear framework for aquaculture, where it was provided for and where it was prohibited. This community-sanctioned plan is now being over-ridden.
“Large parts of the Marlborough Sounds are already set aside for aquaculture, with the rest protected for their outstanding landscapes & tourism values. We are losing the balance between conservation & development interests with this decision.
“There are important national issues at stake relating to the NZ coastal policy statement. The policy statement is clear that adverse effects on areas of outstanding natural character & outstanding natural landscapes should be avoided. The board of inquiry found that the Port Gore (Papatua) site is outstanding but then approved it for salmon farming. We think that is wrong in law.
“We are therefore preparing an appeal to the High Court and will be seeking approval to file proceedings from our board.”
Attribution: Ministerial & EDS releases, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.