Putting a salmon farm near a major shipping channel could cause serious accidents, with floating debris threatening boats, Marlborough’s port company says.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing to relocate six salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, and one could be situated at Oyster Bay in Tory Channel, less than 300 metres from the route inter-island ferries take between Wellington and Picton.
Port Marlborough has strongly opposed the Tory Channel farm, and the region’s harbourmaster has raised doubts about the safety of another farm in the Pelorus Sound.
The Tory Channel farm would be “unduly close”, and floating debris from the farm could pose a risk to smaller craft in the channel and cause serious accidents, the submission from Port Marlborough said.
READ MORE: * King Salmon lodges consent for mussel farm in outer Pelorus Sound * Marlborough Sounds salmon farm relocations compared to troubled Tasmania situation * Council has ‘no choice’ on shifting salmon farms
“The National Transportation Route includes the main inter-island shipping channel, through which typically 20 ferry transits occur in any given 24-hour period,” the submission said.
“Tory Channel is a recognised navigational route for a whole variety of craft including smaller vessels, leisure craft from smaller trailer boats to super yachts, fishing trawlers and numerous other vessels.”
Harbourmaster Luke Grogan did not comment on the proposed Oyster Bay farm, but raised doubts about the safety of relocating another New Zealand King Salmon farm to the middle of the Waitata Reach in the Marlborough Sounds, saying the risk of collisions would increase.
For Marlborough news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter Marlborough Express Daily.
Placing the salmon farm in the reach meant there would be two small shipping routes, to the north and south of the farm, instead of one wider one. The reach was the only seaward entranceway to the Pelorus Sound, and it also provided a refuge for ships entering or leaving Cook Strait.
“In general, collision risk between vessels increases when a waterway is narrowed and the traffic remains constant,” the submission read.
Establishing a farm in the reach would be a breach of accepted marine farm guidelines.
A list of potential mitigation measures were included in Grogan’s submission, including radar and camera imaging, increased lights, public education, and controlled speed zones.
Grogan and a Port Marlborough representative were scheduled to speak at public hearings this week, along with a KiwiRail representative who was also concerned about the Oyster Bay farm.
Tory Channel resident Tim Healey said in his submission he did not see the point of having a farm at Oyster Bay.
“The money made and jobs created are all beneficial to Picton and Marlborough but to us locals, all we get is another industrial marine farm and possible loss of a good fishing spot and remote environment.”
He also believed the mid-channel site in the Waitata Reach would seriously detract from the beauty of the area, as well as posing a navigational hazard.
The Kenepuru & Central Sounds Residents Association and Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay said in a joint submission that the ministry was “tipping the playing field” by using a section of the Resource Management Act to bypass the usual resource consent process.
In a 2014 Supreme Court Case between the Environmental Defence Society and NZ King Salmon the conservation group had recourse to the Environment Court first, but that was not the case this time around.
However, a staggering 69 per cent of the written submissions received from the public on the relocation plan, announced in January, backed the move.
Other businesses and organisations in Marlborough supported salmon farming, such as the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, which put in a submission in favour of the farms.