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Salmon Move is Shifting Goalposts

31st January 2019

New Zealand’s biggest salmon farmer New Zealand King Salmon has finally admitted that has met its match with the environment of the Marlborough Sounds and is looking at an audacious project to make aquaculture bigger than dairying.

The Norwegian model King Salmon intend to follow is the most toxic and unhealthy seafood in the world.

Graham Carter president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers said the prospect underlined the environmental disaster that fish farming was.

“Having polluted the Marlborough Sounds, King Salmon with heavy Malaysian

shareholding, think they can shift their operation to Cook Strait area by placing huge underwater salmon paddocks under the channel,” he said. "When the huge environmental damage caused by fish farms worldwide mainly through pollution under the farms is well documented, the proposed move by King Salmon is just moving the goalposts and leaving a very muddy field in its wake."

CEO Grant Rosewarne attempted to give the concept a green tinge when he said the industry had an environmental impact up to 30 times smaller than from cows.

“Facts are contrary to Rosewarne’s fantasies,” said Graham Carter. "Environmental damage is what it is as revealed in Tasmania where fish farms caused severe environmental damage and almost destroyed Macquarie Harbour. As an Australian Rosewarne should know this."

Graham Carter criticised Grant Rosewarne’s claim that salmon produced more “protein” and used up fewer scarce resources, saying there was a shortage of land for farming, but ample available ocean while salmon tasted great and was healthier than beef or lamb.

“Farmed salmon is not even close to the quality and taste of wild salmon,” responded Graham Carter. “Often farmed salmon had colour added so that is resembles wild salmon and is fed poultry based fats, heavy in anti-biotic.".

It takes about 5 lb of fish food to produce 1 lb of salmon flesh. Traditionally this has been pilchards, sand eels and baitfish, but given this equation, the oceans are becoming depleted of these. However, it produces salmon flesh with 'good fats' and healthy omega fatty acids.

Increasingly these day’s animal fats (and more recently plant fats) are being used instead as feed. You protect the fish further down the food chain and decrease costs, but the salmon produce 'bad fats' and unhealthy omega fatty acids. (But you don't tell consumers that). In addition you get all sorts of other goodies, like POP's and other cancer causing agents.
Overseas evidence pointed to fish farming having a far greater environmental impact equal if not worse than land-based farming.

NZ King Salmon’s production comes from big pens in the Marlborough Sounds which had caused many problems taking public sea bed space and yet paying no rates. It visually and environmentally polluted public space conflicting with the public’s and tourism recreation like boating and recreational fishing.

Tourism, both international and domestic, presented a far greater economic return than fish farming. New Zealand’s “100% pure” claim was looking tattered as evidence seeped out to the world of intensive corporate dairying wrecking rivers and marine farming over-allocated in the Sounds resulting in fish deaths, disease and falling growth rates in aquaculture operations.

“Overseas is becoming more and more conscious of the lies and deceit promoted by these industries.

There must be strict regulations made to ensure that these farms are movable and that any fouling is removed said Graham Carter.

"With this new venture feedlines go into the water to the fish paddocks which are moored to the bottom. This is where the problems occur as the paddocks need to be movable especially given that there’s likely to be up to 10 ‘sea paddocks’ in the new proposal.”

Graham Carter said Grant Rosewarne had admitted each one of the paddocks could be the size of 10-20 houses and contain up to 250,000 fish but claimed because sea paddocks, unlike land ones, are three dimensional, the density of fish would be far lower than animals in a field.

He said Raewyn Peart from the Environmental Defence Society reckoned the science isn’t yet available to make judgements but added cautiously that farmed salmon potentially stacked up well environmentally when compared with wild fishing (trawling and dredging) and with what was happening on the land.

"However her comparison is like comparing fruit picking to timber milling; they are not even on the same page and it shows how badly informed the EDS is," said Graham Carter.

Moving King Salmons pens out into Cook Strait won't reduce the waste they produce, but they are hoping that the stronger currents will sweep it away so it isn't so obvious. It probably won't reduce their stock losses due to disease, although it may reduce the heat-stress associated deaths of diseased fish. And of course it is 'out of sight' so little things like escapes, sea lice infestations and shooting sea lions can be hidden from view.
It is understood that King Salmon have already purchased second hand sea cages from Chile, where the industry went belly-up because of rampant salmonid diseases. You can only hope that they clean them well, before dumping them in Cook Strait.


[Scoop note: New Zealand King Salmon responds to this release here: Comment from Grant Rosewarne, CEO of New Zealand King Salmon]

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