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Sunday
Apr212013

Aquaculture Update

I draw your attention to the post (TCDC's Plan "B" for Aquaculture) below (10 April 2013)  and comments on the Robinson accusations regarding the aquaculture "Plan B". The response from WRC  Group Planning Manager Vaughan Payne is quite extraordinary, and disturbing inasmuch as one would have expected Chairman Buckley to have responded at least.

The proof as to the concern of WRC is reflected in the wording that attacks the Robinson's without any attempt to answer their claims, and at the same time deny the existence of a "Plan B" while admitting the existence of a "Contingency Plan" smacks of a contemptuous disregard for the truth. The reference to "Plan B" in numerous documents that the Robinson's claim to have in their possession that have been obtained under the OIA, further demolish the denials.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Government and its lackeys on the WRC are developing a 'softening-up' process designed to reduce public opposition to any watering down of the RMA in respect of the aquaculture developments - more particularly here in Coromandel. The evidence of a potential environmental disaster off Wilson's Bay has been slowly building, but equally, the efforts to diminish, disregard or distort that evidence is becoming more and more obvious.

The Government has of course staked huge credibility on the successful outcome of the aquaculture proposals, and it is not at all surprising that they (WRC and DPI, encouraged by TCDC) have decided to develop the "contingency" plan that will allow the WRC to get the consent and then sell or lease space. This will be a major face-saver for all concerned, and may well result from the potential tenderers deciding that risks are just too great - something that experts in the field have been proclaiming from day one in the process. Mr Payne's claim that "The fish-farming industry has greatly improved its performance, and our consent conditions will require the latest best practices in fish farming" provides scant comfort in the face of recent and verifiable evidence to the contrary.

It is not that the protections cannot be put in place - it is simply that without the full oversight provided by the existing provisions of the RMA, there is no way of knowing that the appropriate protections will  be provided. My own experience on Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory where a Dutch company - the largest fish-farming organisation in the World, failed abysmally to institute and oversee adequate protections is a timely warning to all concerned. The failure at Port Lincoln in South Australia further raises a red flag, and additionally calls into question the very economics of the Kingfish industry. In both cases the State Governments claimed to have the toughest possible conditions in place, and they still failed to protect the environment. 

The fact that we now have Nick Smith, and the newly re-incarnated Ruth Richardson in the form of Amy Adams running Conservation and Environment is enough to cause real concern - these two may have all kinds of wonderful attributes, but long experience should tell us that respect for Party values out guns respect for the environment at every turn. Listen carefully to the latter in particular in order to get an idea as to where we are headed. And the politics of unitary government are inextricably tied up with the relationship with WRC - make no mistake.

 

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