Salmon farm sites nominated in New Zealand

October 14, 2011 11:42

New Zealand King Salmon has named locations in the Marlborough Sounds where it wants to set up eight new salmon farms, reports

The company applied to the Environmental Protection Authority for permission to set up the farms within days of the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Act (No 3) coming into force.

The proposed salmon farm locations are at Ruaomoko Point, Kaitapeha Bay and Ngamahau Bay, just off Arapawa Island; Richmond Bay, Taipipi, Wymens Bay and White Horse Rock in the Waitata Reach, and Papatua in Port Gore.

NZ King Salmon intends to increase its production from 8900 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes by 2015 with the new sites, which are 16.5 hectares each except for Papatua, which is 91ha, and Ruaomoko, which is 14.1ha. Most of the salmon farms take up 1ha of waterspace, with 15ha needed for the anchoring system.

Chief executive Grant Rosewarne said only a small portion of the Papatua site would be farmed at any one time.

He said Port Gore had distinct environmental conditions which required a different method of farming. Instead of a traditional small rectangular farm, Papatoa would require the use of plastic circles which are spread out and movable.

The company spent 15 months looking for suitable sites around the Marlborough Sounds and invested $2 million into scientifically proving the eight sites were suitable for salmon farming for its EPA application.

The company previously considered alternative sites but concluded the Marlborough Sounds was the only viable option.

North Island, Tasman and Golden Bay temperatures were too high, while both the western and eastern sides of the South Island were too exposed.

Fiordland was recognised as an ideal location for salmon farming but a lack of access to infrastructure and the significant environmental, tourism and recreational values it had as a National Park and World Heritage Site meant it was an inappropriate place. Stewart Island and Akaroa Harbour already had salmon farms.

Mr Rosewarne said he was confident the application would get the go-ahead.

"We can create huge value, using a tiny amount of space, while farming sustainably in perpetuity. I cannot believe that our application will not be granted and we have no backup plan," he said.

"If we are successful in obtaining eight sites we will not need any more for the foreseeable future."

Under the new legislation, preference is given to the company which investigates and proves that an area is suitable for aquaculture and allows companies, such as such as NZ King Salmon, to apply for resource consent at the same time they apply to change the use of the area. Being able to lodge both applications in parallel speeds up the process in establishing new aquaculture sites.

Previously, the areas had to be tendered regardless of who spent the money proving an area was suitable.

If NZ King Salmon's application is given the go-ahead it hopes to start creating the farms in a year and have all eight farms running within three years.

"We will slowly build them up to one hectare using sound biosecurity and environmental practices," Mr Rosewarne said.

The company had consulted with stakeholders about the proposal, but has only now revealed the exact locations, he said.

"As far as possible we have avoided sites where others have expressed a strong view. For example, we have been very mindful of comments and suggestions made by the Department of Conservation.

"Having said this, it is not possible to find sites with unanimous endorsement from all members of the Sounds community."

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