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When Dumb Corporates Kill Thousands. Here.

Written By: - Date published: 11:24 am, May 30th, 2022 - 4 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming - Tags:

New Zealand King Salmon has revealed that 42% of their salmon in warm water areas for the year ending January 2022 were just dead and chucked away. Salmon towed to cooler water had a lower rate of 37%.

As SAFE points out if this had happened to a beef or dairy farmer they would be prosecuted.

But it appears that climate change has caught up with King Salmon on another count.

King Salmon have been seeking to expand their farms in the Marlborough Sounds for over a decade, and they went all the way to the Supreme Court on it. It took a Ministerial Coastal Policy Statement in 2010 to clarify, then a further clarification of the working in it in 2014 at the Supreme Court.

King Salmon are by their planning and litigation budget one of the most well funded and determined farmers New Zealand has.

But now it looks like they are going to have another crack, by trying to get that entire previous Supreme Court ruling overturned via another case.

Port Otago is litigating against its owner the Otago Regional Council first to the High, the Appeal, and now Supreme Court over operational conflicts with the Regional Policy Statement – which is required to ‘give effect to’ that. Further, the company said that the application of King Salmon (2014) potentially threatens the future of ports at Dunedin and Port Chalmers.

Marlborough District Council – home to most of King Salmon and to the largest aquaculture industry we have – is backing Port Otago. That is where the 2014 decision could get rolled.

From the death count it’s looking like the Marlborough Sounds won’t be useful for salmon forever. But King Salmon have their consented operation and it’s a decade-long devil trying to get anything consented elsewhere.

Lordie we haven’t even implemented the 3 Waters deal and we haven’t even got to coastal marine water management. What we are seeing is one regional council using the company of another regional council to defeat them in the Supreme Court. Guarantee every port and every aquaculture company and every regional council is watching pretty closely.

While the parties duke it out in the Supreme Court, our coastal waters warm by the year and tens of thousands of Salmon are sent to landfill.

4 comments on “When Dumb Corporates Kill Thousands. Here. ”

  1. Adrian 1

    It’s overstocking not warmth that is the main problem. Pack any living creature in that tightly, like chickens and pigs, keep sheep 24/7 in pens and they too will die of disease and stress. Greed and callousness is the cause.

    • Augustus 1.1

      There's certainly overstocking, but the problem really is the warmth. For at least 3 months of the year, the water temperature in the Marlborough Sounds is well out of what salmon can handle. There have also been continuous marine heatwaves for several years now, if that's not just the new normal.

      The seafloor under the salmon cages is an ecological wasteland. They need the water to move with the tides. They swim in their own waste when there is insufficient tidal movement. And when almost half the fish die, the survivors swim amongst them, too.

      Those survivors are what we get to eat eventually. Appetizing, eh?

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    There are multiple issues here.

    Mortality is higher in farmed salmon the moment you go over 13°, so most farmed salmon have losses in summer. Marlborough gets a lot warmer than that. Cooler southern locations make more sense – Otago, the fiords, Port Pegasus.

    Fish are legally treated differently than other livestock in NZ, so an event that would close a dairy farm does not have the same effect on an aquaculture cage farm.

    High summer losses have been around for a while, but they are getting worse. In most industries a seasonal loss of 40% of stock would prove problematic for management. Margins are so plush however, that companies generally remain in the black. Unless significant mitigation procedures are set up, there is little to prevent a Chilean scale incident. I think perhaps the guiding hand of the state is required to ensure that the industry survives long enough to diversify.

    The Sounds ought to now be commercially trialing their next aquaculture species. Kingfish have struggled but failed on low temperatures. Snapper seems to be ready to go. Blue cod is also in the offing. And perhaps we should recognize that we are far from world leaders in aquaculture, and look at recent successes like seabass https://thefishsite.com/articles/chilean-seabass-a-sustainable-alternative-to-salmon-farming-in-south-america. But a cool year promises a cool profit from salmon that's mighty hard to move away from. And there will be problems, and probably significant mortality issues working out how best to farm new species.

  3. From 2012 to 2015 MPI conducted tests to find out what was causing the high fish mortalities at NZ King Salmon. The results were negative for ISAV and RLO albeit there were a limited number of fish analysed and the work occurred well after the reported mass fish kill.

    Subsequently, in 2015 MPI identified two Rickettsia Like Organisms (RLO's) and bacterium as the most likely cause of NZ King Salmon mortalities. MPI went one to state this may have been present for many years in the marine environment.

    One likely source of the diseases is rendered fish meal from Chile.

    In true Kiwi style, in 2017 MPI then approved six new salmon farm sites for NZKS in Marlborough Sounds, despite the knowledge of ongoing mass fish deaths. You couldn't make this up unless you happen to be a government department answering to one of the dumbest mupperts in NZ – Stuart Nash.


    Aquaculture is not a "golden goose" that will feed the world, any more than our 'white gold' industry which encourages culturally vacuous asian women to choose infant formula over breast milk as they think the latter is lower class.

    Aquaculture has a sorry history of spreading diseases among wild fisheries, pollution, and displacement of previous users of the aquaculture sites.

    If you believe it should be money first, people second, environment third vote Labour/National/ACT/Green/Maori/etc, they are all the same.

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