New Zealand King Salmon must not be allowed to move half of its Marlborough Sounds fish farms to better locations.
Leaving the remaining existing farms in place would be worse for both productivity and the environment.
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash is expected to take recommendations on the proposed relocations to Cabinet before Christmas, with a decision penciled for February.
Nash recently advised the aquaculture conference that the industry needed to innovate more and invest in high-value brands to maximise export revenues.
They have to focus on the environmental impact and utilise ways to ensure that the bottom fouling and other issues are addressed without out all the PR drama they publish stating on how sustainable and eco-friendly they are. When the opposite is well-known inside and outside the industry.
The aquaculture industry worldwide and in New Zealand are a laughing stock when their PR machine pumps out more garbage than their farms pollute the areas.
Nash said the newly created Fisheries New Zealand agency, split out from the Ministry for Primary Industries, would deliver a new aquaculture strategy within the next year and strongly backed emerging deep-sea fish farming technology.
“The sooner we get into that space, the better,” Nash has said. “The consumer wants that, local iwi want that, communities want that. They can grow. The sooner tech allows us to get to the point where we can have commercial finfish farms off the coast, the better we all are.”
But he pushed back at the suggestion the regulatory processes were too slow and failing to support the aquaculture industry.
“One of my frustrations is that it does seem to take a long time to get anywhere in fisheries.
“I would rather take six months longer and make sure we get the process right than rush something through, get it wrong, and end up in court.”
Mr Rosewarne from NZKS said that he could apply to the Provincial Growth Fund for assistance with applying deep-sea fish farming in New Zealand, but the most important government contribution was a new aquaculture strategy.
Aquaculture could be New Zealand’s most valuable industry bar none – if there was a proper regulated government and industry strategy which they adhered to, which was enforced that ensured an environmental footprint.
King Salmon is in trouble at its present site, and they have to move to the outer sounds, which puts Minister Nash under a lot of pressure to get it right.
This may be good for King Salmon, but it is unlikely that it will benefit anyone else.
The move to Cook Strait off-shore, deep sea farming remains long term conjecture at the very most as the techniques remain to be proven in Norway where they were developed.
The Government and Nash should remain very sceptical and wary. Absolute proof should be demanded that the outer sounds will overcome the increasing environmental damage that is occurring in the current situation. If the proof cannot be provided, then they should be required to 'stay-put' until the open sea techniques have been proven, and then encouraged by whatever means to move. After all, how much more damage can they do at their present location?
Let us not 'lose' the industry - just make sure that it plays 'by the rules,' and that should apply in regard to whatever evolves in the Hauraki Gulf.
Of course, we know that regardless of adverse regional public opinion, the job of our regional council, first and foremost, is to implement Government policy come hell or high water. Costs of implementation and administration, as usual, are to be shouldered by the region's ratepayers. Don't be blinded by the wildly optimistic estimation of revenue and jobs - they are simply 'pie in the sky' at this stage. .
Experience from around the world with aquaculture generally would suggest that those behind the venture should obtain the best possible advice - not necessarily available in this country where fish farming has been restricted to salmon - and the relative experience in that quarter somewhat questionable.
What is clear is that the Iwi would be very unwise to be relying on the level of experience and expertise from within Waikato Regional Council. TCDC certainly has none, and none is likely.
It would appear that this is the only application despite the world-wide seeking of tenders by the Council - to no avail. The additional risks associated with this particular enterprise are manifest, and it appears that every effort will be made to provide the Iwi with maximum assistance, one way or another, to make sure that it succeeds. One can only presume from past statements that Mr Jones's $1 billion Regional Development Fund will be liberally accessed.
People remain absolutely incredulous that this venture should be embraced while the environmental outcomes are so much in doubt. Are we to believe that the Hauraki Iwi are somehow in possession of all the answers that have so far escaped countless qualified observers, together with all those behind the promotion, regardless of the outcome of the demonstrably inadequate Inquiry into this particular proposal?
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