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Why are the fish dying, King Salmon?

Written By: - Date published: 2:09 pm, June 14th, 2012 - 21 comments
Categories: farming, food, sustainability - Tags:

No-one seems to know why the fish keep dying at King Salmon’s Waihinau farm in Pelorus Sound – or if they do they aren’t telling us.

King Salmon’s aquaculture general manager Mark Preece recently commented that up to seven per cent of fish were dying each day at the Pelorus Sound marine farm. Testing by the Ministry of Primary Industries (then known as Agriculture and Fisheries) confirmed the fish were clear of all known viruses and bacterial diseases.

Testing had ruled out site and seabed conditions, including low oxygen levels, said chief executive, Grant Rosewarne.

“In all our years of salmon farming we have never known the seabed to contribute to a high rate of mortality and it is not something (the ministry) has identified as a possible cause of concern.”

Ecologist Rob Schuckard, of French Pass, recently questioned why King Salmon had not followed protocol provided by Cawthron, their science provider, for managing its Waihinau Bay and Forsyth Bay sites between 2010 and 2012.

An independent science report showed the worst pollution under a King Salmon farm was at Waihinau in 2009, Mr Schuckard said.

Hydrogen sulphide gas, which was harmful to fish, was present and copper and zinc levels exceeded levels allowed under their resource consent.

Advice was that it would take eight or more years for the seabed to recover but after being fallowed in early 2010, the site was reoccupied only 18 months later.

And this from the Government aquaculture site; Seabed Effects.

Salmon farms affect the seabed directly beneath them through faeces and uneaten feed falling to the seafloor. These organic-rich particles can alter the physical, chemical and biological nature of the seabed. Organic enrichment increases microbial activity that, in turn, can lead to oxygen depletion in the sediment (and subsequent changes to biodiversity).

Possible causes included combined effects of towing the farm from Forsyth Bay to Waihinau in November 2011 (unlikely as this was over three months ago), high water temperatures last summer (‘yeah right’ – last summer was hardly a scorcher) and seal attacks (laughable). An infectious disease, or a one-off event such as an algae bloom (the irony), were other possibilities.

Maybe it had something to do with stuffing tens of thousands of these fish into an environment that is nothing like they have evolved to deal with. It is interesting that this has not been offered up as a potential cause.

With National running the Ministry of Primary Industries like a corporation it is likely King Salmon will be confirmed disease free again in the future. King Salmon like to talk about how it is in their best interests to keep the water clean and disease free but at the end of the day they are a for profit foreign-owned company -nothing more and nothing less always pushing the limits.

King Salmon’s chief executive, Grant Rosewarne, has said “testing by the Ministry and King Salmon, in New Zealand and overseas, had failed to discover what was causing fish at Waihinau to become emaciated, stop eating then die”. He continued: “The healthy fish are staying healthy and the affected ones are slowly dying off.”

So only the affected fish have a problem Mr Rosewarne and they are slowly dying, so really there is ‘no problem’ and hey, the healthy fish are staying healthy. Well, that’s until they start dying!

But every cloud has a silver lining:

Dead fish are rendered at a temperature above boiling point to make fertiliser, pet food and animal feed now, instead of being dumped in the Blenheim landfill.



21 comments on “Why are the fish dying, King Salmon?”

  1. vto 1

    It is most essential to keep in mind that, as business keeps saying, companies and business exist solely for the purpose of making money. Nothing else.

    As such, the environment is only a consideration to the extent that it affects profit. Nothing else.

    As such, they don’t give a shit. Why on earth would anyone trust a company or business outside of this narrow scope? Only a fool would.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    I suspect the 7% death rate is still far better than occurs in the wild.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      I suspect you’re talking out your arse to try and hide the fact (most likely from yourself) that corporate culture is being proved wrong – again.

    • vto 2.2

      Sheesh tsmithfield I do wonder about you sometimes. 7% is massive. What other business would survive with 7% of its stock disappearing every single day. All the fish would be gone in a couple of weeks.

      There is something very fishy going on here ….

    • Bored 2.3

      TS, Had you paid attention in 4th form biology you might have learnt a little about biomass and fish size amongst salmonids…in short in the wild bugger all fish make it to mature size. In a farmed environment the bulk of fish make it, so a 7% die off must be a worry.

  3. Dv 3

    >>>up to seven per cent of fish were dying each day>>>

    7% PER DAY
    although that sounds high, that would mean most of the stock would die in 15 to 20 days!!!

  4. lostinsuburbia 4

    And they are going through the EPA to increase their operations in the Marlborough Sounds. Its been called in by the Minister on the basis of “economic grounds”. Great.

    • vto 4.1

      More lies from this government. It is being called in because the application wouldn’t be able to stand up to scrutiny in the usual RMA process.

      More proof that this lot are corrupt.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.2

      EPA: gone by lunchtime.

      I think the Serious Fraud Office and the Police need to take a much more robust approach to the National Party’s activities.

  5. joe90 5

    And a wider concern is the impact of the Krill catch on Antarctic ecosystems.

    • Bored 5.1

      It gets worse Joe, krill and other creatures that set their shells from disolved ocean calcium are threatened by ocean acidification…ugly concepts becoming a reality that could kill the whole ocean food chain at source. Then there will be no feeding the salmon.

      • True Freedom is Self-Governance 5.1.1

        How many people worldwide depend on the ocean for their food in one way or another, even if it is just for seaweed fertilizer for their crops? When will people realise that the damage is already glaringly obvious if they just bothered to open their eyes? Our individualistic society appears unable to connect the dots and see the flow-on effect’s of their actions within a larger context. The acidification is largely caused by the absorption of excess carbon from the atmosphere, and will only get worse the more we pump out the carbon. Instead of being disturbed by this, climate change ostriches use the information to claim we cant be affecting our climate because the carbon apparantly isn’t hanging around in the sky, as if the ocean is just a huge buffer that will infinitely neutralise all the waste from our excessive lifestyles. Doh!

        • Bored

          The sadder part is that people compartmentalise ecosystems so that they cannot see the whole, the inner links etc. No plankton means a die off of not only most of the oceans biomass, but also much of the land…the nutrient cycle and dependencies between each are just so extensive and complex. Yet we still insist of seeing things in isolation.

          Interestingly we can ameliorate most of this damage by simple changes: you mentioned one, carbon emissions: if we were all to walk and cycle where possible we could make a major dent in this. Who will however?

          • prism

            Something that rarely is mentioned when discussing diverting river water for irrigation is the effects of this ‘wasted’ water on the sea. If there is less pure water to dilute the sea, won’t that affect the coastal species that have developed in that particular environment. And if the lesser amount of water has high nitrogen and faecal matter in it from our lovely Jersey moos, won’t that bring on some reaction? Yes it does, shellfish beds get closed, and massive blooms anyone and not even Mother’s Day!

            • vto

              I think if we could see the sea floor and the damage and pillaging that has taken place we would be horrified.

              The entire New Zealand coastline should be carved up into 30-40km segments, with each segment alternating between standard fishing etc and marine reserves.

              Imagine the increase in sealife !

              Why wouldn’t ya?

                • vto

                  Well thanks mr marty, good of you to say so. I’m sure if we just keep talking we will come to eventual agreement on most everything else too.

              • True Freedom is Self-Governance

                Brilliant idea. Surely it just makes sense. After all, even on intensive farms they allow the paddocks to rest between grazings.

            • True Freedom is Self-Governance

              Very good point prism. I was aware of both factors seperately but never considered the magnified impact they have when you combine them. Our poor coastlines. Starved and overfed at the same time.

          • True Freedom is Self-Governance

            “Who will however?”

            Precisely. A lot of people ask why they should make changes to their lifestyle if others aren’t bothering, or if making the morally right choices costs them much more. And I wholly agree about compartmentalising, it’s part of that individualistic mentality that so often prevents us from seeing the bigger picture, and it permeates every aspect of our lives. It’s all good and well to break things down as far as possible to learn about them in great detail, but if you cant take that knowledge and see where it fits into the bigger picture then it’s a pointless exercise because nothing exists alone.

    • Jackal 5.2

      There’s been a lot of mass fish deaths reported recently. From Nordreisa in Norway, Chesapeake Bay in the US, Chiba in China, to Sochi in Russia just to name a few areas experiencing higher than usual fish deaths.

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