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King salmon, stealing our future

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, March 19th, 2012 - 26 comments
Categories: farming, food, sustainability - Tags: ,

Imagine, if you will, taking your children down to the park to find an overseas’ owned company had set up a dairy farm in one corner. Over time the shit builds up and flows onto the play ground. You complain, but are told the farm is under no obligation to treat or retain their waste and the council has no powers to do anything about the mess. You wonder why this was allowed to happen.

Well the government changed the rules and this company had only to apply to National’s new Environmental Protection Agency or (EPA) for the use of the land, pay a small application fee, and next thing, the company has the use of the land for eternity.

This is not fiction, it’s what’s going on right now in the Marlborough Sounds. Anyone can apply to the EPA to set up a salmon farm, and pollute the surrounding water for free, paying no rent or rates. Unbelievable but true!

Last term National set up the EPA, basically because sacking local councils like Environment Canterbury to free up water rights for their farmer mates was not a big vote winner.

The name of the agency is just marketing spin. It is able to do by stealth what National did with Environment Canterbury – override your district plan without having to sack the council ‘Environmental Undemocratic Destruction Agency’ would be a more accurate name.

National’s EPA isn’t concerned with protecting the environment – in fact it’s not even been given the task or the responsibility to protect the environment. It’s just a rubber stamping authority chaired by another National party lacky, Kerry Prendergast, who was a candidate for National in a not too distant general election.

King Salmon, a majority-owned overseas company, is applying to the EPA to create nine new salmon farms in the Sounds. Under the present district plan this would be impossible, because eight of the company’s proposed new farms were in a zone where the plan stated marine farming was prohibited,but the EPA can override that restriction. If their application is approved we will see a flood of other applications.

Farming fish has been with us for thousands of years, but not in this manner. In the past we farmed fish that eat vegetable matter, such as carp or tilapia. For thousands of years Chinese fish farms have cycled waste from vegetable crops through their fish and then used the waste from the fish to fertilize the next vegetable crop. This is a sustainable closed loop system that creates protein, sustainable systems don’t have waste, only by-products.

Salmon farming is like farming tigers; approximately a third to half of the global fish catch goes to feeding these salmon, they need somewhere between 3 to 5kg of food to gain 1kg of weight. And all that food that doesn’t end up as salmon ends up waste that poisons the local ecosystem.

“Any industry which is reliant upon a fast-diminishing fisheries resource to fuel its own expansion and which discharges untreated contaminated wastes directly into the sea affecting other coastal users is hardly sustainable. And the potentially fatal sting in the tail is that farmed salmon contains high levels of contaminants such as dioxins and PCBs (Jacobs: 2000, Wigan: 2001, Easton: 2002). In so many ways, the phrase, ‘sustainable salmon farming’ like so-called ‘organically farmed salmon’, is an oxymoron (Staniford: 2001c).”

This industry is totally unsustainable. It’s sucking the blood out of our ecosystems, polluting our environment and stealing our public space. The current government seems hell bent on selling our country to overseas companies and walking all over local communities while handing out free passes to pollute and destroy our environment we should stand up and fight.

Here are a couple of organizations that are fighting to save the Marlborough sounds for future generations, they need all the help they can get.



26 comments on “King salmon, stealing our future”

  1. Bored 1

    It’s all called follow the dollars….National the business peoples party where ALL COSTS are externalised onto you, me and the environment.

    I know a thing or two about aquaculture, it is not a pretty as the painted picture. Those nice healthy looking salmon eat processed food from various sources, some of which you would not like to think about. Generally large quantities of non commercial fish (at-least 6 times the salmons weight) need to be caught to make the pellets etc. It does not add up in any sense.

    The whole thing as stated in the article is of very dubious merits: the bit which annoys me most is that the real costs just get passed on. This government are basically a nest of thieves stealing our future and robbing our present.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I heard the King Salmon guy vigorously defending his company on National Radio this morning. While claiming that his firm had strong Council and public support, he couldn’t explain why they had to go to the EPA in order to circumvent and avoid normal Council processes.

    • insider 2.1

      Then you didn’t listen very closely. There was no ‘had to’ about it, and it’s not circumventing – going to the EPA is a legitimate alternative for complex subjects and you have to apply to be heard, it’s not automatic the EPA will hear you. It was something the council supported doing as they did not want to wear the cost of running the hearing and doing the reports required when it would probably get appealed and go to the Environment Court anyway.

      How did you miss all this when I only heard half the interview and managed it?

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Its only a “legitimate alternative” because the NATs set it up to circumvent local govt bodies and shortcut through their planning rules.

        BTW no Council supports methods which circumvent the requirements of their district or regional plans.

        • insider

          You might disagree with the capacity of govts to change laws, but it’s part of something called democracy. The planning rules may never had existed if some other govt hadn’t commited the outrage of getting rid of the TOwn and COuntry planning Act.

          Regional and district plans change as circumstances and values change. They are not set in stone forever amen. Councils vary them all the time for their own pet projects. Why would they object to others seeking change – asking is not getting.

          • Colonial Viper

            Sure, giving shortcuts to corporates while everyone else has to abide by their district and regional plans is now framed as being “democratic”.


          • felix

            The EPA was part of the ACT/National deal in 2008 IIRC. That is, it was imposed on the country by a party with 1.5% support.

            If you’d bothered to listen to the rest of the interview you’d have heard the chap from the council talk about the EPA and King Salmon “holding a gun to their head” to get out of the normal council process.

            Only a metaphor, obviously, but it gives an indication of how some people working within democratically controlled institutions feel about Rodney Hide’s bastard children.

  3. King Kong 3

    Thank you for drawing my attention to this. It didn’t occur to me that there are billions of fish literally crapping when and where they like in our oceans.

    • muzza 3.1

      It’s gone right over your head as usual hasn’t it!

      You should start a support group!

    • Ant 3.2

      It also didn’t occur to you that an action occurring intensively in a small area may have a differing impact to one distributed over a massive area.

    • Bored 3.3

      Kong, dragging your knuckles again I see. If you were to drag them under a salmon farm you might just get more diseased than you already are. Whilst you are taking the pills start thinking (hard for you I know) about why we have to farm fish in the middle of a big blue sea that used to be full of fish?

    • NickS 3.4

      Thank you for drawing my attention to this. It didn’t occur to me that there are billions of fish literally crapping when and where they like in our oceans.


      Because there’s no such thing as density dependant effects, sea currents, environmental niches or detrivores that alter how nutrients are cycled in the wild at all…

      aka, stop posting and go try this thing called “thinking”, plus a little bit of research. It wont hurt you, much.

    • lprent 3.5

      Perhaps you should investigate why human cities which have similar population densities have to have sewerage systems.

      BTW: If you want to be treated like a fuckwit troll, then carry on making similar statements…

    • eljaydee 3.6

      King Kong, I grew up on a farm. We had an outside dunny and we buried the bucket in the garden every couple of days. This was fine, there were 6 of us on 150 acres.
      I now live in Auckland. I don’t think I would like every JAFA burying a bucket in the garden every couple of days.
      It is called scale…

  4. NickS 4

    Salmon farming is like farming tigers; approximately a third to half of the global fish catch goes to feeding these salmon, they need somewhere between 3 to 5kg of food to gain 1kg of weight. And all that food that doesn’t end up as salmon ends up waste that poisons the local ecosystem.


    In terms of sustainability it’s utterly stupid, as that protein could go to feed people instead, or more intelligently left in the ocean to keep food chains stable, not only that, but in terms of converting vegetable matter to protein chicken eggs, carp and tilapia are a fuckload more efficient and cheaper. And with carp and tilapia, as long as you transfer them to clean water for a couple of days before killing them, they wont have that muddy taste that oft puts some people off them.

    Also, in terms of nutrient pollution, unless they’re sited in areas with high current flows, algal blooms and resulting loss of shell fish sources is a major problem, and could cause serious issues for mussel farming and paua recovery and farming efforts in the sounds. And don’t quote me on this, but because the salmon poop isn’t treated, it’s far more potent than the waste water from a rural council sewerage plant for a small/medium town, as the nutrient load is greatly reduced by bacteria and algae in the sewerage treatment and ponds, locking it into biomass and pond sediment.

  5. tc 5

    Between approved and already running Aquaculture, dairy farming and frakking combined with the potential of damage from deep sea drilling and other exploration activities all over NZ it’s taken the nats’ less than 2 terms to flush our clean green image down the exec loo.

    this king salmon issue is a great example of the NACT priorities, anyone know how many jobs are created/foreign currency generated over what period as they are the measures sideshow and the dealing room keep banging on about

    Suspect the salmon’s sold to a holding company offshore at zero profit so I’m not seeking to see any tax payments, GST aside just some plausible job/export numbers please……maybe DPF has them.

  6. gareth 6

    Why anyone would want to eat the stuff is beyond me anyway, full of antibiotics, fed with dyes to try and give a flesh colour matching that of a wild salmon and without the healthy benefits from eating a wild fish.

    The only fish I’ll eat are the ones I catch myself….

  7. Populuxe1 7

    Imagine, if you will, taking your children down to the park to find an overseas’ owned company had set up a dairy farm in one corner.

    Why does it have to be an “overseas’ [sic] owned company”? An Iwi owned one, for example, would have exactly the same effect. Why does it being foreign-owned make the polluting worse?

    • felix 7.1

      It doesn’t, and nowhere does the post say that it does make the polluting worse.

      It does, however, make the economics suck more.

      Oh and also the company in question does happen to be overseas owned so there’s that whole “comparing apples with reality” thing too.

  8. Tamati 8

    Oh no!

    Fish poo in the sea! Whatever shall we do?

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      I suggest you go read the replies to King Kong’s mindless drivel (it’s exactly the same drivel that you’re spouting).

      You know, I would have thought the graphic would have shown even the RWNJs the problem.

  9. vto 9

    Well the way to throw spanners in the spokes is to go get the ground / sea before they do. Do you see the bays where the new industrial factories are intended to be created? Well, go there and apply for something yourself. Go and apply for a resource consent over the same area to do something straight forward, doesn’t really matter what, just something which means the area is ‘taken’ and thereafter unavailable for other uses. Or even apply for a marine farm yourself – a very low density one, maybe a few hectares for a few snappers or goldfish or pipis. Just to take the space. Come on people, think. Play the bastards at their own game. This, after all, is exactly what they do. Sometimes I think the left have so many brains there aint no room left for thinking – or rather, their minds are so tangled in thought lines that simplicity gets bamboozled and cannot escape.

  10. Local 10

    I am pleased to see there is plenty of debate about this matter, as for a while I was led to believe us New Zealanders were placed in the ‘just follow the jobs and don’t give a crap about anything else’ box. We need as many people as possible to speak out against this multi-national, mulit-million-dollar company that thinks it can push it’s way through local laws purely because of it’s financial status. And they will unless we do something about it.

    I just looked up the site, http://www.sustainoursounds.co.nz to see how to support. I am now a member and hope many of you will do the same.

    I think NZ should stand up for a few things once in a while, with all the asset sales and privatization going on, we need to let the govenrment know that it’s the rate-payers in this country that hold the majority, and that WE are the ones THEY should be listening to.

    It is a democracy…

    • Pat Baskett 10.1

      It’s not just in the Sounds – huge farms of hapuku and king fish are planned for the Firth of Thames. This unsustainable and immoral industry must be stopped!

  11. Scotty 11

    Any salmon farms proposed adjacent to Gerry Brownlees bach?
    Pehaps there should be, might help the National Party to understand peoples concern.

  12. Pat Baskett 12

    Aquaculture is unsustainable and immoral. It deprives coastal dwellers in Third World countries of pelagic fish which are turned into pellets to feed farmed fish – in order that wealthy westerners can eat salmon.
    The Marlborough Sounds is not the only place where aquaculture is set to expand. A huge area of the Firth of Thames has been set aside to farm finfish – these are groper, or hapuku, and kingfish.
    The profits will be shortlived and the consequences, both environmental and social, will be forever.

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