21 Dec 2012

King Salmon defends its environmental record

7:44 am on 21 December 2012

Marlborough Sounds-based firm NZ King Salmon has defended its environmental record after failing to gain approval for more than half of the new farms it wants to establish.

After a lengthy hearing process the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given approval for build four of its proposed nine new farms in the Sounds.

The EPA rejected its application for another five farms, saying the environmental impact would be too great.

King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said the EPA draft decision ignores its excellent record.

"We are ranked number one in the world for sustainably producing salmon, we do it better than anybody else and we've been operating in the Marlborough Sounds now for over 25 years with no remote negative environmental effects."

Mr Rosewarne said the company has an environmental record that is the envy of many other industries.

He said the New Zealand consents process is too restrictive compared with Australia, which over the same time has approved almost three times the amount of space to expand salmon farming, at a fifth of the cost.

Greens object to decision

Green Party primary industries spokesperson Steffan Browning says the decision rides roughshod over existing marine farming restrictions in the Marlborough Sounds.

He says the placement of the new salmon farms is in the prohibited area in the Marlborough Sounds according to the area's resource management plan.

Mr Browning says the plan was developed with community consultation and supported by a number of Environment Court decisions and this has effectively been discarded by both the Government and the board of inquiry.

The Environmental Defence Society says it is considering appealing against approval for the new salmon farms.

'Lost opportunity'

Some businesses in the Marlborough region are unhappy that not all nine farms will be developed, calling it a lost opportunity for hundreds of jobs to be created and tens of millions of dollars to be poured into the economy.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Brian Dawson says he is worried the company could move to another country such as Australia where investment is encouraged.

He says if Australia is being proactive about approving consents at a fraction of the price, the worry is that the New Zealand King Salmon Ltd and other operators will simply decide it's too hard to do business here.

Mr Dawson says he was hoping the expansion the company's operation would help establish a processing plant in Marlborough which would create jobs.