Reports from Scotland of massive problems with salmon farming have prompted a former commercial fisherman to speak out against government plans to encourage fish farming. Pete Watson president of the Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association said according to reliable reports the Scottish situation with fish farming was so dire that the Scottish Advertising Standards Agency, recently ruled that a salmon farm company cannot use the word “sustainable” to describe its product or operations.
In September 2019 New Zealand’s Fisheries minister Stuart Nash announced a government aquaculture strategy at a Blenheim-held Aquaculture conference and said the goal to reach $3billion in sales was “ambitious, but achievable.” Government planned to build on the existing $600 million industry by maximising the value of existing farms through innovation and extending into modern land-based farms and open-ocean aquaculture said Minister Nash.
However Pete Watson said the government needed to manage the inshore fishery efficiently and sustainably before hastening to farm fish.
Labour before the 2017 election pledged to conduct an independent review into the quota management system (QMS) but Minister of Fisheries Nash had abandoned that promise when in February last year he said a review would not take place. The QMS with its tradeable nature has led to big corporate companies like Sanfords and Talleys buying up quota from small time commercial fishermen, aggregating quota and monopolising the resource.
In Marlborough King Salmon with a majority foreign shareholding from Malaysia’s powerful Tiong dynasty, has been dogged by controversy with reports of tonnes of dead, often diseased salmon, dumped at the local land fill.
The Scottish salmon farming reports told of nitrification of the water, increasing algae blooms, removal of oxygen and reduced quality. Scottish salmon farms emitted around 400,000 tonnes of waste in 2017 – equal to the sewage equivalent of 2.5 million people going into the ocean.
Tony Orman spokesman for CORANZ, said fish farming was no substitute for proper management of the natural sea fishery. He said snapper was selling in Marlborough supermarkets for just under $50.
“The minister and his ministry needed to concentrate their meagre talents to bring fish to New Zealand’s shop shelves at an affordable price rather than getting into deep murky water with fish farming.”
He said fish farming in the words of a US fisheries officer was “capital intensive, highly risky and of marginal, uncertain economics.”
He described Minister Nash’s breaking of a pre-election promise as irresponsible and unethical.
© Pete Watson