The decision by the Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA) Board of Inquiry to allow new salmon farms in recreational areas of the Marlborough Sounds sets a worrying precedent and is extremely disappointing, the Green Party said today.
New Zealand King Salmon applied for nine new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, eight of which were proposed for public water space of high natural character where aquaculture is a prohibited activity. Four new farms have been approved by the EPA, all in prohibited zones.
"This decision shows that plan development and Environment Court case law mean nothing to Government or the Board of Inquiry," said Green Party fisheries spokesperson Steffan Browning.
"The Board of Inquiry and Government have ignored decades of community consultation that formed Marlborough District Council's plan, the wishes of two thirds of submitters on King Salmon's proposal, the local community and a petition of over 11,000 people who opposed this proposal.
"New Zealanders don't want companies overruling their community plans and polluting their pristine, recreational water space. For Kiwis who live by the coast or look forward to visiting their favourite coastal places over summer, this outcome is a nightmare.
"Aquaculture has significance for New Zealand's economy and enjoys a clean, green reputation but that is now at risk.
"With the four approved salmon farms all in pristine recreational areas where aquaculture is prohibited rather than in aquaculture zones, it is obvious that the Marlborough Sounds has reached capacity when it comes to farmed salmon.
"Instead of choosing to increase the efficiency of their operation, such as through renewed efforts to solve the mystery death of thousands of tons of salmon at one of their farms earlier this year, King Salmon has chosen to throw $8million at the EPA process and bulldoze their way into public water space.
"This outcome is at odds with the responsible business practice that New Zealanders want and expect in their backyard.
"This decision will set a precedent allowing companies to apply to build marine farms anywhere on New Zealand's coastline."