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Are Marlborough’s Marine Feedlots Putting Our Recreational Fisheries at Risk?

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFFA) was formed in 1972 as lobby group against trout farming prompted by concerns that disease and the privatisation of public water would adversely affect our sport.

Since that time salmon farming has become part of the suite of primary producers on which New Zealand’s economy is based. NIWA and MAF sold (public) hatcheries once jointly operated by government and acclimatization societies to the industry.

NZFFA’s concerns about disease have increased in light of the high number of mortalities occurring on the Marlborough Sounds salmon farms and the apparent lack of transparency from New Zealand King Salmon and MPI about the newly identified bacteria associated with these fish deaths

Salmon farming does not fit within the traditional model of our primary industries:

• Feed is imported from Tasmania &/or Chile using fish protein sourced from Chile unlike pastoral and mussel farms where feed is local.

• Producing less fish from other fish may add value but it is not sustainable in the big picture.

• Export earnings should be viewed net of imported feed & infrastructure costs. Does New Zealand really benefit from an industry that buys export earnings with offshore inputs?

• New Zealand’s largest salmon farming company is 51% overseas owned

• Salmon farms use public sites at no cost

• Salmon farms presently import overseas product to make up a shortfall in orders due to the high numbers of deaths occurring on the salmon farms

Fish farming poses significant industry specific risks regarding disease and biosecurity:

• A salmon company transports fish to and from a number of sites – freshwater to sea water to onshore processing

• Pathogens can be transferred horizontally, fish to fish, vertically, parent to egg, via nets, boats & equipment, flesh and by products, parasites, or can simply be water borne.

• High stocking rates and localized pollution associated with salmon cages promote disease.

• New Zealand has limited support in terms of specialist fish vets and specialist diagnostic laboratories compared to land based animals.

• The importation of chilled/frozen product from countries with contagious fish diseases that can be fatal to wild salmonids and other marine fish species to make up orders. (Export certification assuring food safety does not guarantee the product is pathogen free).

• Global aquaculture entities have a history of spreading salmonid diseases around the world.

• Once an exotic fish disease becomes established there is little chance of eradication

MPI Intelligence Report NZ-RLO & T. maritimum 2015 response May 2017, reports previously unidentified bacteria associated with two significant episodes of fish deaths in the Marlborough Sounds and lax biosecurity by the salmon farmer.

The NZFFA wants to know why these events are being passed off as “the result of global warming”?

Why do we allow the importation of fresh/frozen salmon from known infected countries?

Why is there a lack of transparency around the Marlborough Sounds fish deaths?

Has MPI been captured by the salmon farming hype?

Why does MPI not disclose the true NZKS mortality figures, citing commercial sensitivity, when public disclosure and transparency is required of the Scottish and Norwegian salmon farms?

Peter Trolove