Report on Marlborough salmon farms

A report by an independent panel into the future location of six salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds has been released by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash.

The report was written by an independent Advisory Panel following public hearings in April-May 2017 and provided to the previous government in July 2017. Mr Nash is yet to form a view on its findings. He has released it in order to update all interested parties.

“I am making the report public to enable the people and groups who made submissions to study it while I consider the next steps. I also want to thank the members of the Advisory Panel for their work. 

“I am some months from making a final decision,” Mr Nash said. “I intend to discuss the report with a number of people, agencies and iwi who are following this issue closely.

“In particular, I intend to work closely with the Marlborough District Council around the best process from here. I also intend to ensure the voices of all iwi in the area are heard. Further, I will allow time for the Ministry for Primary Industries to undertake scientific work around water quality and to test policy and legal advice.

“The management of aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds is an issue where all interests are best served by the Crown working alongside local government and iwi to find the best outcome,” Mr Nash said.

The Advisory Panel considered written submissions and held hearings on a proposal to relocate up to six Marlborough Sounds salmon farms to more environmentally sustainable sites. It recommended that three salmon farms be relocated:

  • Otanerau Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound to Tio Point in Tory Channel
  • Waihinau Bay to Richmond Bay South, both in Pelorus Sound
  • Ruakaka Bay to Horseshoe Bay in Pelorus Sound

The Panel considered relocation of the three farms would enable the New Zealand King Salmon Company to improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing jobs and economic returns. The company could implement management standards that ensure the effects of salmon farming on the seabed of these sites are effectively monitored and managed.

The report says relocation would reduce adverse effects on the seabed, lessen the visual impacts of the farm sites on the natural landscapes and features of the Sounds, and improve fish health. The Panel also believes relocation would be more consistent with resource management principles.

The panel declined to recommend the relocation of three other sites. Its decision was primarily based on cultural factors, landscape considerations under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, and navigational safety considerations.

There are currently twelve sites in the Marlborough Sounds which have resource consent for finfish farming. The proposed new sites were put forward as potential substitutes for existing consented sites.

The report is available on the MPI website here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/marlborough-salmon-relocation/