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Another Patrick Smellie Salmon Booster

A follow-up article by Patrick Smellie in today's NZH continues his PR assault on behalf of the New Zealand King Salmon. This follows his sponsored trip to Stavenger, Norway, courtesy of its Managing Director – Grant Rosewarne. See my earlier post to get an idea of what the visit was all about.

Smellie appears to have fallen into the journalistic trap of accepting his hosts rhetoric, and becoming the plausible mouthpiece of the industry. Pity that, because Smellie has a fine reputation, and he should never have allowed this to happen, let alone while on the industries no doubt lavish tab!

The article concentrates on the alleged economic benefits to be gained from following Norway’s lead as by far the highest producer of farmed Atlantic Salmon – some 2.4m tonnes compared to NZKS’s current 8k tonnes of the apparently more favoured Pacific variety.

Only in the tail of the article does Smellie concede that almost the entire Norway coastline comprising mainly fiords, has conditions suitable for farming salmon, whereas ours are concentrated in the Marlborough Sounds. Even Rosewane concedes that there are few other suitable areas here with sufficient current to to even justify trials. He writes off Stewart Island and our southern Sounds for very legitimate reasons, while resting his hopes on the open ocean of Cook Strait.

This alternative involves submerged cages in open water where there is sufficient, or even excess water flow – the techniques for which are unproven, and only now being explored in Norway. Interestingly enough, the Norwegians were evidently reluctant to reveal their progress in that direction to Rosewarne, or the rest of his delegation, but it does appear to have secured the interest of Environmental Defence Society delegate Raewyn Peart. After all, you could not go all that way on the NZKS tab without having something positive to say.  

The remainder of Smellie’s story appears  to be nothing more than a regurgitation of Rosewarne’s frustration at the manner in which environmentalists have managed to counter NZKS’s ambitions to expand into the outer Sounds. This is a result of having fouled their inner Sound farms benthic (seabed) to such an extent that several are now nothing more than a source of debilitating disease, quite apart from the ubiquitous sea-lice likely to prohibit their use for salmon farming, or any other purpose for decades to come. They are barren, if not diseased. 

Smellie reports the objections of environmentalists in Rosewarne’s view as nothing more than “intemperate” and “emotional vitriol” and “excessive assertions that cease to have any real significance.” He conveniently fails to mention the actual environmental effects that were the principal basis, and clearly laid out in the submissions that went to what he describes as the “highly experienced board of inquiry,” the members of which he infers, agreed with him.

The subsequent  landmark 2014 Supreme Court decision that found against six of the nine new sites being sought was the precursor to the current public relations campaign mounted by NZKS to ‘soft-soap’ the Government into backing its proposals, and this will no doubt be followed by further pressure to allow the open-sea cages in Cook Strait.

The attempt by both Smellie and Rosewarne to conflate the situation on the coast of Norway with that  here in New Zealand must be resisted at all costs. By all means, allow NZKS to follow through on the Norwegian ‘open-sea’ experiments, and replicate them here if possible, and practicable, but I would strongly suggest that these experiments not be used to ease further expansion in the outer Sounds beyond those areas already allowed.  

The clear intent to paint environmental objections as nothing more than "emotional vitriol" should be seen for what it is – an orchestrated and self-serving litany promulgated by NZKS.

And Patrick Smellie should be more aware of when he is being used by vested interests for purposes that are parcelled up as being in the National interest, but which are something quite different. To paint the dairy, red meat and oil & gas industries as “sunset,’ by comparison is grasping at straws, and unworthy.




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