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Thursday
Aug082019

King Salmon's Cook Strait Plans Announced Right On Time

Patrick Smellie's story on King Salmon's Cook Strait plans in today's Herald  atrived at exactly the same time as a grand symposium on aquaculture sponsored by the Cawthorn Institute is underway in Nelson. 

But Patrick Smellie's story contained one single sentence that will be causing conniptions for NZ King Salmon's Grant Roisewarne who would no doubt have expected better having funded Smellie's trip to Norway last year. Here are the fateful words:

"If it all goes according to that optimistic-looking timetable, it will be a small miracle."

What is absent from Smellie's otherwise upbeat and generally supportive story are the actual figures regarding the cost of establishing this 'miraculous' venture. One has to go to yesterday's international salmon industry on-line journal SalmonBusiness to get a grip on just what Mr Rosewarne is planing to spend to get the initial 4,000 tonne venture 'off the water. Double this for the planned 8,000.

"Developing the first open ocean farm will initially require the commissioning of suitable vessels and pen infrastructure based on international technology, as well as the training of team members, with an anticipated capital investment of around NZD 25-30 million (EUR 14 – 17 million)."

NZKS COO Allen Cook says:

“Climate change is very real and we have felt its impact in the Marlborough Sounds over the past couple of summers. This decision is crucial to our long term sustainability efforts,” said Cook. “It will undoubtedly be a major challenge to farm in the open ocean because of more extreme conditions than in the Sounds, but we’ve chosen the best site possible.”

The 'elephant in the room' relates to just how Rosewarne intends to lay his hands on this kind of money to undertake such a risky venture after so little testing, and accumulation of knowledge about the suitability of the planned site - one year precisely, as against twenty years or more experience in the Norwegian Fjords, and deep sea.

Note the intent to remove the planned crew of eleven, presumably by chopper,  in the face of forecast North-West storms - sounds fun! And note also that the major problem with the off-shore cages in the Northern Hemisphere has come from the unplanned escape of vast numbers of fish from storm-damaged cages. But no doubt Mr Rosewarne has an answer for that quandary.

The almost total reliance on the work of the Cawthorn Institute is an indication of the profound anxiety of Rosewarne to depart the Sounds where he is under increasing pressure to 'pack up shop' in the face of environmental protest, and the salmon life-limiting effects of climate change.

Taking it one step further, one has to ask whether his attempts to curry favour with Shane Jones and Jacinda Ardern is a precursor to an attempt to obtain massive Government financial support for this highly speculative venture. Certainly, there is little indication anywhere of there being an appetite amongst the investment community, or his own shareholders for that matter to 'throw caution to the wind' to follow his dream.

I remain immensely sceptical of any attempt by Rosewarne and King Salmon to seek Government backing  - our tax money in other words, to subsidise this risky venture - particularly on the specious grounds that we need an alternative to grassland farming to provide equivalent protein to the World.

My whole attitude is presaged by what I consider to be an utterly flawed enquiry into the use of the Hauraki Gulf for fin-fish aquaculture - a subject that seems to have disappeared from the headlines over the last year or two, Or is is still lurking within the four walls of the Regional Council from whence came the initial impetus?

I remain particularly sceptical of the motives of Mr Rosewarne, and I believe that in order to protect his reputation, Patrick Smellie should be very careful to retain journalistic impartiality in regard to his relationship with this industry.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I understand that the majority ownership of King Salmon is held by an extremely wealthy Malaysian family - the Tiong's. Perhaps I hold an over-simplistic view on the matter, but why should there be any suggestion whatsoever of our Government supporting such a very risky venture - when, if it is somehow successful, the bulk of the profits will be going off-shore? (The 'creation of additional jobs' is often advanced as a reason why Government support is warranted with such new ventures. It seems that in this case the number of new jobs will be minimal.) If it is to proceed, the venture should 'stand on its own feet' and be financed by the company, without taxpayer support.

August 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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