National's Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, is sidelining the concerns of the Marlborough community by preparing to decide unilaterally on new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, the Green Party said today.
The Minister has chosen to use special regulation making powers under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to hand pick a special panel to consider King Salmon’s proposal for six new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound and Tory Channel. The Minister will then make the final decision and the community will have no chance to appeal his decision to the Environment Court.
“Nathan Guy is lining things up to make an arrogant, I-know-best decision about where to put these new salmon farms instead of the Marlborough District Council going through the normal RMA processes,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“Three out of six new sites identified by the Minister and the Ministry of Primary Industries are in locations that the Marlborough Council and community have said should be off-limits for marine farms because they’re in uniquely beautiful spots, important habitats and recreational areas.
“If the Minister approves these locations for salmon farming he’ll be deliberately overriding the communities’ well negotiated decision on where salmon farming should take place in the Sounds.
“Salmon farming in the Sounds will not be sustainable if it does not have the support and buy-in of the people in Marlborough.
“There is an obvious alternative option, and that is for King Salmon to simply reduce the number of fish and amount of feed that it uses on existing sites.
“The only reason this isn’t the major option being considered by the Minister is because it will cut into King Salmon’s profits.
“It's 100 percent possible to develop a high-employing aquaculture industry in the Sounds, which also preserves the beauty and health of the environment that is so important to the area,” said Ms Sage.