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Developers response to concerns about Carp Farm in Taupo

5 Feb 2016

Developers response to concerns about Carp Farm in Taupo

Developers for the proposed Grass Carp farm in Taupō have responded to claims that their proposed fish farm will have negative impacts for recreational fishing and impact waterways around the Lake Taupō area.

“We’ve worked on the plans for this project for the past two years and I am totally confident that there is zero risk of the Carp entering the waterways around Taupō from a breach in our system,” says Golden Harvest Holdings Director, Richard Clark. “We have had numerous experts from many fields assist us in our planning and we have had no issues with receiving any of the many consents and licences required before we can start construction.”

The Carp farm will be sited on Rakanui Road, in an industrial zone about 6km away from the Taupō township, and 2.5km away from the Waikato River. It will primarily raise Grass Carp (95% of annual production) with the remaining 5% of Silver Carp used to control algae.

The farm will use geothermal energy to heat water to the optimum temperature to allow the Grass Carp to grow year round. Grass Carp will be harvested weekly, and transported live to Auckland fish markets. Mr Clark says the business model aims to reach a one tonne per week harvest.

“We’ll have 20 ponds, each about 560 cubic metres in size, where the fish will grow,” explains Mr Clark. “The whole 3.6 hectare area of the farm will be covered in six metre high bird netting, including all the walkways and waterways that connect the ponds.”

Detailed research on the species has been undertaken by NIWA and MPI that proves Grass Carp and Silver Carp cannot breed in the wild in New Zealand conditions. New Zealand rivers do not meet the temperature, flow rates and length required for reproduction. As both Grass Carp and Silver Carp can only breed in a controlled laboratory, the breeding for the Taupō farm will be done at the Mahurangi Technical Institute in Auckland.

“We have looked at impacts on the NZ ecosystem, potential impacts and risks of the Carp reproducing in NZ river systems, and provided all this research to MPI and DOC as part of our consenting and licencing process,” said Mr Clark. “We have also consulted with Fish & Game NZ, Taupō Lakes & Waterways Action Group, Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, our neighbours at Rakanui Road and a number of other interested groups.”

“I think people see the Koi Carp as invasive and prolific, and therefore assume that Grass Carp and Silver Carp will be the same,” said Mr Clark. “They are completely different species with different reproduction biology.”

“Likewise people may have seen the videos of jumping Silver Carp in America and think that will happen in New Zealand,” explains Mr Clark. “New Zealand rivers have different environmental cues as the affected areas in the States, and the fish simply cannot establish a wild population in our natural river environment.”

“My vision for this project is to operate the most environmentally sustainable fish farm in New Zealand,” said Mr Clark. “We are going to achieve this by having a closed system with zero discharge into the waterways, plastic lined ponds so there is no leaching of nutrients into ground water, 100% plant based feeds as Grass Carp are herbivorous therefore no use of fish meal so no impact on wild fish stocks, and no use of antibiotics as both Grass and Silver carp are free of diseases in NZ.”

“With my ten years experience in the aquaculture industry and last three years researching the leading farms in best aquaculture practices, we will be the first fish farm worldwide to tick all the above environmental boxes,” said Mr Clark.

Production on the farm is due to commence shortly, and the multi-million dollar build will be completed and ready for the first batch of juvenile fish to arrive later this year.

“In the near future, we hope to be able to offer a tourism experience at the farm,” said Mr Clark. “One of our main aims of the tourism component will be to educate New Zealand and overseas visitors on sustainable land based aquaculture and food security which is going to become an increasingly important topic in the years to come. But for now we’re focussed on getting the facility built to the highest standard and ready to start production.”

ends


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