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Marine farm decision disappoints

1 June 2006 - Christchurch

Marine farm decision disappoints

Forest & Bird is disappointed by the Ministry of Fisheries’ decision to grant preliminary approval to a marine farm on the West Coast of the South Island.

Forest & Bird South Island Field Coordinator Eugenie Sage said approval for the 45-hectare marine farm in Jackson Bay near Haast threatened Hector’s dolphins and Fiordland crested penguins in the area.

“Bright night-time navigational lighting of the farm boundaries may affect penguins moving to and from Jackson Head, while sheltered Jackson Bay is an important nursing and calving area for Hector’s dolphins. Increased boat traffic servicing the farm increases the risk of boat strike for dolphin calves,” Eugenie Sage said.

Hector’s dolphins are listed as nationally vulnerable, with a population of about 7000, and they have been in steep decline since the 1970s, when they numbered about 26,000. Up to 90 Hector's dolphin can use Jackson Bay at any one time with many sightings of mothers and calves during scientific surveys.

Fiordland crested penguins are in decline and are categorised as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). About 10% of the world population of Fiordland crested penguins is found at the Jackson Head colony.

The farm also risks the introduction of the invasive Asian kelp, Undaria pinnatifida.

“The land around Jackson Bay is part of the South West World Heritage Area/Te Wahi Pounamu. The lines of farm buoys are likely to be a major intrusion on the distinctive views from the Jackson Bay wharf, the only place on the West Coast which is easily accessible from land where you can look across the sea and up to Mounts Aoraki/Cook and Tasman.

Forest & Bird opposed the original resource consent applications under the Resource Management Act for four marine farms totaling 132ha in the area. This included opposing the proposal in the Environment Court when the applicants appealed the West Coast Regional Council’s decision to decline consent to the four farms.

The Society will continue to oppose the application ahead of a final decision by the Ministry later this year.

ENDS


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