Friday, April 12, 2024

Cook Strait salmon farm approved

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Putting fish pens out in the open ocean ‘not for the faint hearted’ says aquaculture manager.
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New Zealand King Salmon has at last gained approval to establish an open ocean salmon farm in the Cook Strait.

The final government approval follows a nine-year resource consent and consultation process for the Blue Endeavour open ocean salmon farm.
NZ King Salmon (NZKS) chief executive Carl Carrington said the process has been “very robust”.
“From here, we will complete our 18-month programme of rigorous benthic (seabed), seabird and marine mammal monitoring. This will provide a baseline of information, against which we can measure the impacts of a working salmon farm,” Carrington said.
The farm, the first of its type for the King Salmon (Chinook) fish species, will be located 7km off Cape Lambert in the Cook Strait and comprise 20 circular pens. It will be less than 12 hectares in size and, when fully operational, could produce 10,000 tonnes of chinook salmon and generate $300 million in new revenue a year.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones labelled the project a significant step for NZ’s aquaculture, and a win for the economy, but was critical of the time it had to taken to gain approval.

“While this is a huge step that will contribute to the government’s goal to grow aquaculture to a multibillion-dollar industry, it’s taken far too long to get to this point,” Jones said.

“There are currently too many hurdles causing delays for aquaculture projects, and these delays hurt our economy and the communities that rely on aquaculture.”

Carrington said the next step will involve  a “proof of concept” phase and installing trial pens from June 2025. 

“This is when it starts to get exciting from a farming point of view – building a smaller-scale pilot farm so that we can trial new infrastructure while monitoring the welfare of our salmon, to ensure they can thrive,” Carrington said.

Regional economies will benefit from growth in supporting infrastructure and services required, such as boat servicing, and skilled jobs in farming, engineering and processing, he said.

“We have never taken the support we have for our products and what we are doing for New Zealand aquaculture for granted. This drives us to continuously improve our environmental footprint across the company, and was a motivator during the past nine years of dialogue and consultation to get the green light for Blue Endeavour.”

NZKS general manager of aquaculture Grant Lovell described the open ocean as “an exciting opportunity and the next logical step for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry”.

“When we look to the open ocean we are looking at the future for salmon farming in New Zealand – in cooler, deeper waters. It is a bit of a new frontier for our aquaculture industry, but one that we are entering one step at a time, backed by science and evidence-based decision making,” he said.

“Putting fish pens out in the open ocean is not for the faint hearted. We will be working in a dynamic environment, with waves up to 10 metres high – anyone that has caught the Cook Strait ferry knows what we are talking about.
“We will be trialling technologies and investing in mooring grid infrastructure to ensure we are able to adapt to the Cook Strait conditions,” Lovell said.

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