New Zealand aquaculture industry representatives have joined a combined US and New Zealand programme to respond to ocean acidification by sharing information and resources on resilience and adaptation, and raising public awareness. Sanford Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley provides interesting industry […]
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Shenae Muirhead and George Faulkner are the inaugural recipients of the New Zealand King Salmon scholarships for students studying aquaculture at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT).
Shenae Muirhead of Nelson originally got involved with aquaculture while still at school through the Top of the South Trades Academy. Now in her first year of the Diploma of Aquaculture, Shenae says she has loved the ocean ever since she was a child and initially planned to study marine biology at university. However after learning about the NMIT diploma, decided to focus on aquaculture instead.
“The idea of being able to grow and farm marine creatures is so interesting and it’s changing and developing all the time,” she says.
George Faulkner of Takaka is in his second year of the diploma. After leaving school, he did seasonal work for New Zealand King Salmon for a few seasons as a hatchery operator before deciding to study. He says he has always been interested in fish and aquatic species, so the aquaculture diploma was a natural choice. He hopes to continue his studies to degree level before finding work in the industry.
New Zealand King Salmon Freshwater Manager Jon Bailey said the company was supporting the scholarships because they believed that the aquaculture industry at the Top of the South had unrealised potential.
“In order for it to grow, we need to develop the next generation of people with the technical skills, knowledge and the ability to engage in a rational debate about future sustainability,” he said.
The scholarships are designed to assist students financially with their fees as well as enabling them to enhance their understanding of the aquaculture industry. Paid work experience during semester breaks and summer holidays may also be offered to recipients.
NMIT Chief Executive Tony Gray said it was great to see new scholarship sponsors such as New Zealand King Salmon supporting NMIT students.
“When a business is willing to help support students in this way, there are huge benefits. Not only do the students receive financial assistance to help them achieve their qualifications, the company can also benefit through fostering direct links with high-achieving students,” he said.
NMIT offers the country’s first and only Diploma in Aquaculture. Launched in 2010, the first students graduated from the two year programme in 2012. Graduates are now working for companies such as New Zealand King Salmon, the Cawthron Institute, oyster and salmon farms in Australia and the Pacific, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, Ministry of Primary Industries, NIWA, Sealord, Kono and Plant and Food Research. Many have secured work before they had even finished studying.
For further information about NMIT’s aquaculture programmes and scholarships go to www.nmit.ac.nz
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In 22 years of research on the Marine Environment, Professor Kenny Black has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading experts on the interaction between salmon farming and the environment. He’s published 61 peer reviewed journal papers, been awarded over 50 research grants, edited six books on environmental aspects of aquaculture and co-ordinated six European Union projects concerning the impacts of aquaculture.
Now he’s helping usher in a new era of salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds.
“The future of salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds comes down to whether there is room for expansion in terms of environmental impacts and the concerns of local people,” he said.
“Salmon can be farmed sustainably – they have really good qualities compared to all other livestock animals. They grow fast, they’re relatively easy to grow and they are a great product.
“But you have to take the public with you. You have to take people’s fears and concerns seriously and think of good ways to show people what you’re doing about these fears.”
The Scottish Institute of Marine Science Principal Investigator in Marine Ecology, Prof Black was brought to New Zealand late last year by the Marlborough District Council as they worked with New Zealand King Salmon and key community and industry stakeholders to develop new guidelines to steer future salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds.
According to MDC Environment Committee Chairman Peter Jerram, Prof Black provided key independent expert advice during several workshops that served as the first step to building better working relationships and more certainty for all parties.
“What we’re trying to organise are agreements on best salmon farm management practices that would ensure the environment is safe and the industry is well managed,” Cr Jerram said.
“We also want to develop a regulatory regime that would be reasonably simple, offer certainty, enable production for the company Eminent international marine scientist Professor Kenny Black has provided independent expert advice to help salmon farmers, Marlborough District Council and the community plan for a new era of cooperation. He’s taking us….to be optimised but with safeguards and also with a clear pathway of what happens if safeguards are not adequately met.”
A positive side effect of the process was that it provided concerned citizens a chance to ask Prof Black directly about their fears.
“I met some people who were genuinely upset, in tears, at what they perceive to be the threat of expansion,” Prof Black said.
“There were different classes of upset. Some were upset because there would be a farm in their back yard and they hadn’t anticipated that happening and felt the value of their property would be compromised, and their reason for moving there was to move away from industrial activity.”
It was also a chance to dispel myths.
“Then there were other people I met who basically had a poor understanding or were exaggerating impacts,” he said.
“There were a few people who felt adding a few more farms was going to environmentally devastate it (the sounds environment). I can’t share their view on that.
“They are genuinely terrified of the damage they think will happen with what I would regard as a modest increase in the number of farms. I don’t know where they get it from.
“I think some people have probably been influenced from others who are very negative about the industry in principle.
“However he was quick to point out there were still some environmental unknowns that needed to be considered.
“Salmon farms (in the Sounds) are very few and are not using very much space, but it’s not just about space. The other aspect of salmon farming is its nutrient impact.
“There is excellent work being done by NIWA at the moment in developing a model that will answer the question of how much farming can the Sounds take in terms of nitrogen and primary production.
“This is a key question that needs to be answered for the future of the industry. How sensitive are the Sounds?
“It could be that there’s plenty of room for expansion or not.“But there is no point in speculating as we’ll have the answer in the short term.”
However, it’s clear that farming salmon in New Zealand carries a host of environmental advantages above international salmon farmers.
“What stands out the most is the environment you’re operating in New Zealand compared with the environment most salmon farmers are facing in the rest of the world,” Prof Black said.
“The impacts and interactions with the environment are very few.
“The main impacts in Scotland are the impacts of sea-lice and the interaction with wild fish populations.
“None of these issues are important in New Zealand. You have no lice and no native salmon.
“Some of the biggest headline issues that impact the rest of the world just don’t exist in New Zealand.”
Prof Black may not agree with all industry opponents- but he does sympathise with them.
“I don’t believe a modest increase in Salmon farming in the Sounds will have a catastrophic impact but I genuinely sympathise with people who do.
“Whether the fears are accurate or not is not the issue in the first instance – if people are very upset about fish farming , then time and effort needs to be spent with these people.Interestingly, Prof Black himself might have provided the first step in the process of repairing community rifts created during NZKS’s application to the EPA for new farms.
“It (the EPA process) was a divisive, horrible process. It was political…people’s integrity got attacked and it was unpleasant for all involved,” Cr Jerram said.
“This (the workshops) was a deliberate effort to move things forward…it’s a good start.
“I don’t think we’ve come to a final agreement, but had some pretty mature input coming from us all sitting together in the one room and talking it through.
“To work collaboratively we’re going to need a greater degree of trust and respect between all those with a stake in this process.”Prof Black agreed it was a positive first step.
“A confrontational process involving lawyers is not conducive to good relations. What is conducive is talking to each other with an attitude of respect and discussing fears and opinions.”
So where to from here?
“Shortly there will be a decision on the four NZKS sites (currently before the Supreme Court),” Prof Black said.
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“If they get these sites, that would provide a lot of new tonnage and by the time they become operational, we will have the work from NIWA and will be able to look at the Sounds and see if there is more scope for expansion or moving around sites or converting mussel farms.
“A year or so from now you have an opportunity, with a lot more information and new science to look at how much room there is for further expansion.”
A brand new, high-tech aquaculture feed production facility could be operating in Blenheim by 2015.
Fish feed company Big Nutrition and Blenheim firm Aquaculture Direct have completed a feasibility study on establishing an aquatic feed mill in Marlb…
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Mark Gillard has been at the forefront of salmon farming in Marlborough for 28 years.
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His contribution in helping turn around a floundering experimental project in 1985 that has gone on to become New Zealand King Salmon – which today employs over 400 people and generates over $100 million annually – was officially recognised when the Marine Farming Association presented him with their prestigious Merit Award recently.
MFA president Rob Pooley said Mark was one of the industry’s best known and well-respected identities and is generally considered one of the country’s leading salmon farming experts – and one of the architects of the industry’s success.
“The Merit Award is the highest possible accolade that you can receive from your peers. It’s not one that we give annually. It is only awarded on merit and it has a very high threshold in terms of eligibility,” said MFA president Rob Pooley.
“Mark was a very popular choice.”
Mark said he felt honoured to be recognised by his peers in an industry that he loves.
“Hell yes I’m proud of what we have achieved through all the trials and tribulations,” Mark said.
“We’ve managed to take what was a struggling pilot project with a multitude of challenges and turned it into an industry that sustainably produces premium salmon and delivers it to the world.
“It’s a major achievement – especially with a species that is considered one of the most difficult to farm.”
“Salmon farming gets in your blood. It’s almost like it’s part of you and everything that happens you feel responsible for it.”
Rob said it was this passion that made Mark such a popular choice.
“He is the longest serving member of the salmon farming industry and his selfless contribution throughout the years is unparalleled by anyone.
“Mark is among the most professional, well liked and respected contributors to the aquaculture sector.
“His integrity is exemplary.
“He has always given above and beyond the call of duty and those of us who have worked alongside him over the years have seen just how dedicated and passionate he is about this industry.”
The EPA has released it’s final decision, confirming the earlier draft decision to grant New Zealand King Salmon four new sites.
In summary, the EPA’s Board of Inquiry final report and decision on the New Zealand King Salmon proposal:
- Allowed the plan change request and concurrent applications for resource consent for four sites – being Papatua, Ngamahau, Waitata and Richmond. The provisions of the plan change request and conditions of the resource consent applications can be found in the final report and decision;
- Declined the plan change request and concurrent applications for resource consent for four sites – being the Kaitapeha, Ruaomoko, Kaitira and Tapipi farms;
- Declined the resource consent application for the White Horse Rock farm.
Click here for full EPA report
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The EPA Board of Inquiry’s (BOI) final determination will enable New Zealand King Salmon to deliver long-term benefits to the region, the community and the national economy.
Aquaculture New Zealand Chairman Peter Vitasovich said the four new salmon farms approved in the decision would create permanent full-time jobs and provide significant downstream benefits for associated industries while generating export earnings through the sustainable production of premium seafood.
“Four new working salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds will provide valuable employment opportunities within the community, while also attracting skilled labour to the region, to work across the spectrum of production – from farming to processing to marketing and business roles,” Mr Vitasovich said.
“Before a single fish goes in the water at the new sites, New Zealand King Salmon will be investing well over $10-million with local companies to build infrastructure and conduct appropriate scientific base studies.
“NZKS already injects $25-million into the community each year through salaries and wages, and on-going maintenance and logistics will also create increased long-term demand on local businesses across a host of industries including engineering firms, science providers, rope makers, net makers, freight companies, water taxis and tourism operators.”
Mr Vitasovich said the BOI process proved New Zealand King Salmon can operate in balance with the environment and fellow water users.
“This application sparked substantial debate in the local community and provided everyone the opportunity to have a voice and to be heard,” Mr Vitasovich said.
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“The thorough and transparent process examined all the concerns of environmental advocates including impacts on the seabed, water column, nutrient release, seabirds and sea mammals as well as considering the natural landscape of areas and navigation.
“The Inquiry drew on independent scientific evidence and relevant experts and found New Zealand King Salmon can farm the four new sites in balance with the local environment and community.
“We understand that the Marlborough Sounds are near and dear to the hearts of the community who work, fish, boat, dive and holiday on the water – and we agree whole heartedly that there needs to be appropriate levels of protection to ensure these activities can continue.
“After all, the aquaculture industry depends on pristine waters for its livelihood and the production of safe seafood.
“Salmon farmed in the Marlborough Sounds are desired in top-end markets with NZKS winning recognition from international chefs and culinary associations for producing some of
the world’s finest salmon. The company has also moved to expand their reputation for quality, with the introduction of the Ora King brand to target high-end food service markets.
“New Zealand King Salmon have a strong 25-year track record of responsible environmental management.
“The new farms will see them farm a fraction of the Sounds water surface, in carefully chosen sites, under carefully controlled conditions.”
“Aquaculture is good for Marlborough. The aquaculture industry and New Zealand King Salmon will continue to work hard to ensure it is an asset the community can be proud of.”
Naturally perfect, nurtured to perfection.
New Zealand’s aquaculture industry has a great story to tell. The story of a highly skilled and progressive industry, employing more than 3000 Kiwis and sustainable producing the world’s best seafood.
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New Zealand King Salmon hosted representatives from across the industry for a tour of their Clay Point farm last week.
Following on from the Salmon Farming Association meeting in Picton on Wednesday, October 31, more than 30 people took to the water…
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South Island salmon producer NZ King Salmon is hooking into the coveted fine dining market.
Two decades in the making, the Marlborough-based business is launching a premium breed of salmon called Ōra King. Ōra King targets best in class profession…
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