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The Caged Fish Dilemma

Just in case you thought that the fuss over the WRC plans to put the Coromandel Marine Fishing Zone up for tender is over-blown - take a look at this story from the NZ Farmer of 9 May:

“Salmon farms failing to meet strict environmentally sustainable standards could be shifted. Three New Zealand King Salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds fell short of best management practice guidelines laid down by the Government and Marlborough District Council, environmental monitoring revealed.

Cawthron noted pollution under pens and seabed enrichment, caused by fish waste falling on the seabed and uneaten fish food. New Zealand King Salmon promised they would meet the standards by 2024 but the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) branded that "not acceptable

New Zealand King Salmon environmental compliance manager Mark Gillard said in a letter to the Marlborough District Council that implementation of best management practice for seabeds was a "challenge" that would be solved by 2024.

Ministry of Primary Industries aquaculture manager Dan Lees told council's environment committee New Zealand King Salmon had to come up to scratch sooner. "It is not acceptable to wait until 2024 to implement best practice guidelines across all the farms," he said. "The community have said additional salmon farms are not appropriate in the Marlborough Sounds. We have to manage the farms we do have."

Internationally renowned marine scientist Professor Kenny Black previously said farms were better in high flow sites, Lees said.These sites with cooler water temperatures, were better for growing salmon, could improve environmental outcomes, and support better biosecurity management.

In Blenheim on Friday, Prime Minister John Key said the key challenge for New Zealand King Salmon was gaining flexibility to move their farms more regularly to help with their environmental impact. (My underline )

"Salmon farms are hugely profitable. The hectare returns from salmon farms is thousands of times greater than dairy farming. We want aquaculture farms to be successful. We need to work on that taking into account the wishes of the community."

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said there were continued questions if some of the farms would ever achieve full compliance.”

Note the Government's determination to promote aquaculture, and the environment be dammed. John Key's words as reported above are immensely disturbing - he does not appear to understand the long-term consequences of a deeply polluted sea-bed - it does not simply recover because you move the bloody cages - it stays polluted.

The thought of cages being moved regularly over vast areas of the Gulf is unthinkable, but that is what will be required in order for the industry to survive given the need to meet environmental standards, and the relatively low tidal flows here that resemble those of the Sounds.

The industry is simply unsustainable here - regardless of the views of our blessed bureaucrats. .  




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Reader Comments (2)

Understand that the sea floor under the mussell farms are much in the same condition here in the Gulf, caused by mussell excrement!!

May 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Lipped

Please forgive the pun Green-Lipped, but that I suggest, is a red-herring' The pollution under fish cages is greater by a factor of 10, or more.
The areas under the mussel rafts only have to deal with digested phyto-plankton, and mussel rafts can stay anchored indefinitely unlike the cages, at least restricting the damage.
The fish cages produce large quantities of digested pilchard and herring together with carbo-hydrate, and in addition, varying percentages of uneaten food. This produces a range of poisonous chemicals over a vast area - sorry, no contest! Fancy electronic devices to limit the waste have not proved effective by all accounts - hence the situation now reported in the Sounds.
Meanwhile, our PM claims that all we have to do to deal with fish-cage pollution is move fish cages around the Gulf. He appears to be simply quoting over enthusiastic bureaucrats as he clearly has no expertise in the matter. . .
As an aside, even Gilbert James says that the Gulf has reached the limit of phyto-plankton availability for mussels, while planners connive to double production.
We can warn about the inevitable consequences of this policy until the cows come home, but they are determined - it appears that nothing will stop this impending environmental disaster - one that is likely to parallel what has occurred with dairy intensification.
Have you noticed how clever our pollies are, after the event?

May 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBill Barclay

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