24 Jul 2015

King Salmon looks at Southland expansion

8:42 am on 24 July 2015

The world's largest king salmon farmer is looking to move into Southland once space for a new fish farm can be found.

One of King Salmon's farms in Tory Strait.

One of King Salmon's farms in Tory Strait. Photo: RNZ

New Zealand King Salmon says the project would be worth $100 million a year and create 150 jobs.

But first it has to find a place to put its new farm.

The company's chief executive, Grant Rosewarne, said the company was ready to expand so searched around New Zealand and decided south was the way to go.

"Southland is definitely the best option after Marlborough for us. Marlborough is good because there is a lot of deep, cold water there, but there all these competing uses.

"Southland doesn't have as many competing uses and it has a lot of water space and it's all at the right temperature."

The company recently spent $10 million on court battles with opponents, which ended up with it getting only three out of the nine new farm sites in Marlborough that it sought.

It has also had trouble this year with overly warm water killing young fish.

Mr Rosewarne said a five hectare operation in Southland would create jobs in the region and double the company's turnover.

Strategy and corporate planning manager at the Southland regional council, Ken Swinney, said he and other Southland councils had been talking to the company for the past few weeks and it seems pretty serious.

But he said it was early days.

"They're at the talking stage, they're doing some due diligence, having a look around, talking to people, see what the situation is, they'll be looking at sites that suit their particular operation, and obviously doing their homework, as you would expect."

Mr Swingy said the challenge would be finding a suitable place, probably in a bay on Stewart Island, or perhaps a sound at the bottom of Fiordland.

The most natural place might be in Big Glory Bay on Stewart Island's east coast where another company, Sanford, already operates a major salmon farm and has shown interest in expanding.

Mr Swinney said the regional council would need to look at the bay's carrying capacity.

Mr Rosewarne said the council allocating space was now the only thing holding it back.

"If the space was available now, I'd be bidding for it and we'd be setting up operations for the next season. So we just need to buy the infrastructure, put it in place - it takes about a year to buy the infrastructure and put it in place."

New Zealand King Salmon is a major business for Nelson and Marlborough, with a turnover of $100 million from just five hectares of water in the Marlborough Sounds.

The company employs about 400 people in the region.

General manager of the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, Hamish Macfarlane, said the company's expansion would be significant.

Mr Macfarlane said he would prefer to see the company expanding in Marlborough but since that was not possible, King Salmon will go to Southland with his chamber's blessing.

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