A new survey has revealed clear support both regionally and nationally for New Zealand King Salmon’s plans to expand its operations in the Marlborough Sounds.
The online survey reveals nearly five times as many New Zealanders support the company’s plans as oppose them – 52.4 per cent to 10.8 per cent.
In Marlborough, a similar number (54 per cent) back NZ King Salmon’s plans to increase production as part of the aquaculture industry’s goal of becoming a $1 billion industry by 2025.
In addition, nearly 90 per cent of respondents believe commerce and conservation can live together.
The company has applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to add nine salmon farms to its existing five. If approved, the expansion will increase the company’s water space by 11 hectares to 17 hectares – or 0.01 per cent of the 150,000 hectares in the Marlborough Sounds.
Through a Board of Inquiry (BOI), the EPA is currently calling for submissions on the plans and the survey reveals more than half of local people know they can obtain a hearing at the BOI.
The economic gain for the region, local employment and export sales were among the reasons people supported the company’s plans as was the company’s environmental record.
One respondent said: “We need jobs other than vineyards. Also, the sounds are huge and they are taking only a tiny bit - I think some people would have us look at lovely views but live in poverty.”
Another highlighted national economic benefits for New Zealand: “New Zealand salmon is one of the best in the world so I think it would be good for the country in that it will hopefully promote more tourism to the region and put New Zealand on the map for more than just grapes.”
A third opinion addressed the health benefits of salmon: “It is such an important and essential food especially for the elderly…However the main reason (for supporting the company’s plans) is it gives employment and brings in overseas funds. Bring it on.”
NZ King Salmon says it has always been transparent about its expansion and the survey reveals nearly 70 per cent of Marlborough locals are aware of what it wants to achieve.
Company CEO Grant Rosewarne says the survey supports the company’s ‘open door’ policy.
“We announced 12 months ago we would be applying to the EPA for permission to expand and our application has been on its website since October last year.
“The survey confirms we have strong support from the silent majority and reflects the deep knowledge New Zealanders have about what we want to achieve.
“It’s also very pleasing to note that 83 per cent of Kiwis believe conservation and commerce are not mutually exclusive and can work in harmony.”
Anyone can make a submission to the Board of Inquiry in writing and on the EPA’s prescribed form. NZ King Salon encourages local residents to submit in support of its environmentally sustainable growth plans. Submission forms are available from EPA New Zealand King Salmon Proposal Submission Form, the EPA website or can be requested by freephone on 0800 722 667.
Submitters need not provide all the information to support their position until the evidence exchange part of the process, expected to be in late July. Hearings are expected to start in mid-August.