Marlborough salmon farming seeks to expand

May 10, 2011 09:54

New Zealand King Salmon plans to apply to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for planning permission to expand its operations, reports with reference to NZ King Salmon.

If successful, New Zealand King Salmon believes it can double its production in three to five years in support of the aquaculture industry's target of $1 billion in sales by 2025.

If New Zealand King Salmon's application to the EPA is classified as a proposal of national significance by the Minister of Conservation, the minister may then direct the matter to either a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court.

The Environmental Protection Authority process will take approximately 15 months to determine if, where and how new salmon farming can occur in the Marlborough Sounds.

The company is applying to increase its current production of 7,500 tonnes of salmon a year to 15,000 tonnes by 2015.

New Zealand King Salmon has the capacity to double current sales during the next three to five years, a move it says is likely to create around 70 jobs in Marlborough. However, to do this it needs to find environmentally sustainable water space for at least eight new farms to meet market demand.

The total amount of space involved will still be very small. The Sounds has a surface area of 150,000ha of which 2,800ha is used for mussels. New Zealand King Salmon has five surface hectares for salmon. Under its proposal, the company will be seeking further water space in the region of 10 surface hectares.

New Zealand King Salmon CEO Grant Rosewarne says: "Few agricultural industries have the ability to create such significant export income from such a small amount of space, with a low, localised environmental impact."

Mr Rosewarne says: "The Environmental Protection Authority will require the company to prepare very comprehensive evidence. A scientific team including Cawthron is studying our existing sites and improving our understanding of the Sounds. We are consulting with a number of people in the community. Everyone will be able to submit and call evidence in the Environmental Protection Authority process."

"It's well known amongst Marlborough locals that we have been identifying sustainable sites to raise premium salmon in areas acceptable to other users.

"We have invested millions of dollars and been highly successful in developing lucrative specialty markets overseas which is great for us and great for the country. However, because the King salmon species requires cool temperatures, deep water and good tidal flows, suitable new sites in the Marlborough Sounds need detailed research," Mr Rosewarne says.

"The Environmental Protection Authority process reduces costs to the ratepayer. All processing costs associated with the applications are paid for by us including council time.

"We are committed to running sustainable environmental operations and as a result a sustainable business. The environment and visual impact of the farms are two key areas of concern to the Marlborough community and we are well aware of that."

A public meeting is being planned for Marlborough by the Environmental Protection Authority to explain the EPA process. Later, if the minister directs the matter to either a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court, a ‘friend of the submitter' will be appointed to assist those who have specific questions about the EPA process.

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