Aquaculture (2)
Friday, March 16, 2012 at 3:40PM
Bill Barclay

Following on my last post, there are a number submissions made to the Aquaculture Ministerial Advisory Panel that recently met in Coromandel that are well worth accesing. But the following URL probably best summarises the concerns that were put before the Panel by a distinguised range of aquaculture experts. The Advisory Committee for Waikato Regional Environment recommendations appear to have been ignored by the WRC in its rush to approve aquaculture licences for Wilson's Bay.

Advisory Committee for WRE

The submissions that must have momentarily shaken the Advisory Panel came from fishery scientist Bill Brownell from Kaiaua whose CV includes 10 published peer reviewed papers in scientific journals on various aspects of applied aquaculture, Mike Fabish - an aquaculture consultant with 25 years experience and Mike Donaghue M. Sc. in Oceanography, and formerly a professional fisher from Coramandel.

The submissions were unanimous in their opposition to the FFF (Fin Fish Farming) proposal in particular, and are probably best summarised in the Advisory Committee Submission above. That report is measured in its tone, reasonable in its conclusions, and succinct in its recommendations. They are clearly contrary to the the Industry/Government (including Tangata Whenua) position that appears to acknowledge little of the likely downside effects of proceeding headlong into the establishment of the "trial".

In fact, there appears to be an unhealthy emphasis on the "trial" aspects when in fact industry is demanding 35 year leasing arrangements, and the proposals that have been revealed to date appear to be anything but "trial' in nature. Full scale commercial operation appears most likely, and the scale of investment will mitigate against any attempt to restrain or restrict development in any way that allows for cessation if and when outcomes predicted in these submissions come to pass. 

One of the most disturbing aspects of the entire proceeding is the direct evidence of the complete collapse of the South and Western Australian farmed Kingfish industries, major problems with Tuna, and my own experience of the failure of the much vaunted farmed Barramundi industry in the Northern Territory. These failures must not be dismissed out of hand simply because some WRC scientist claims that failure was the result of "negligent actions by a fish farm operator", and that redress would be available through civil proceedings - Yah! 

We clearly do not easily learn from the mistakes of others, and WRC scientists have consistently rejected the contents of opposing submissions to the point of 'pig-headedness'. I will not go into all the concerns put forward by the submitters other than to note that they range from genetics through chemical pollution to the marine environment, and that they cannot be dismissed out of hand simply because they do not coincide the Governments need to explore new avenues of revenue raising. Someone needs to blast through the complacency evident in the attitude of Government, together with the Regional and Local authorities to date. It is as if they 'don't want to know', and that is just not good enough in this day and age.

I have heard the Mayor equivocate on the issue maintaining that he remains "neutral" - but that was not his position on 9 August 2011. Here is the relevant TCDC Press Release - it seems unquivocal to me:

Mayor supports 300 hectare finfish farm

I trust that Mr Key enjoyed his visit to Sugar Loaf today, but he needs to get beyond the concerted bureaucratic and industry led propaganda. Opponents are not simply Luddites dead set on destroying this industry before it even gets off the ground - they have raised legitimate issues that must be answered before taxpayers dollars are thrown against the wall, and the residents of the Peninsula again left to ameliorate the resulting damage.




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