The winner is… Well its not New Zealand! The New Zealand Supreme Court decides to hear the eNGO New Zealand King Salmon Appeals


I just read in the Marlborough Express that the New Zealand Supreme has ruled that the appeal against salmon farms can proceed.

According to Penny Wardle the New Zealand Supreme Court:

“…has given environmental groups the right to appeal a High Court decision giving New Zealand King Salmon approval to build four new fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds.”

The court released its decision today, giving Sustain Our Sounds and the Environmental Protection Society leave to appeal the August 8 decision of the High Court. An Environmental Protection Authority panel first heard the application in Blenheim, approving four of nine farms applied for.  This decision was then appealed to the High Court […] The Supreme Court in Wellington considered the protest groups’ application in Wellington on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court will hear the Appeals Both appeals on 19-21 November 2013.

In another article published today (22 October) in the Marlborough Express entitled “Salmon appeal slated as waste of resourcesPenny Wardle states the obvious; where according to Wardle, New Zealand King Salmon CEO Grant Rosewarne sees that

“…[t]aking the fight over New Zealand King Salmon’s application to expand in the Marlborough Sounds to the Supreme Court is a waste of resources.”

GFBF totally agrees. In a posted last week (For New Zealand’s Sake – Let’s hope New Zealand King Salmon does not need that day in Court) I argued that:

Ultimately I [GFBF] hope that the Supreme Court decide not to hear the appeal. The idea of putting a company to the sword (the defence of which has costed in excess of $10m NZD), who are planning to progress a relatively small development, that meets its requirements pursuant to the RMA, has a plan to minimise and mitigate negative environmental effects and moreover provides teh region with an attractive bag of benefits including jobs and export dollars, seems ad odds with my conception of natural justice.

For GFBF it is simple; objectively the benefits of the expansion project outweigh the detriments (which are in turn managed) – and for this reason the expansion ought to go ahead!!!


It would seem, at least from an objective standpoint, that the combination of potentially low negative effect on a regional basis, high rates of re-mediation and a management plan the pro-actively minimises environmental impact, that provides considerable economic and social benefit both regionally and nationally, deserves to have its application for consent granted. Yet for detractors, it would seem that this evidence is not enough!! A small/low impact scenario is not sufficient for opponents who require an absolutely zero-impact standard for NZKS!!”

For the time being I will hold fast to this summation as I see it.

A recent article in the Listener pointed out that New Zealand salmon farming practices were recently acknowledged by the Global Aquaculture Performance Index as the world’s greenest; and when one considers the facts as they are presented in the scientific and technical reports, the ferocious environmentally based criticism just doesn’t hold as much water as it ought to, considering the amount of airtime the opponents are given.

I am of the opinion that New Zealand should not only applaud our primary producers, we should be proactive in ensuring that they have the requisite social licence to operate, when it is demonstrated that they can do so reposnibly. At present New Zealand cannot produce enough salmon to meet global demand not only for salmon, but for New Zealand Chinook salmon.

New Zealand King [Chinook] Salmon

New Zealand King [Chinook] Salmon

The Erosion of a Competitive Advantage

Wardle cited Rosewarne’s disappointment:

As a country, New Zealand needs to come to terms with whether we are going to consume all our resources battling each other. Or, as Team New Zealand, should we take on the world and battle international competition to earn income on the world stage.

GFBF couldn’t agree more. If we want to remain competitive and continue to provide the market with top quality king salmon we have to retain a market presence, At the moment it would seem that we are being squeezed out. Look at the facts (source: For New Zealand’s Sake – Let’s hope New Zealand King Salmon does not need that day in CourtLessons from NZ King Salmon’s expansion in the Marlborough Sounds):

At present the farming of the King or Chinook Salmon species is dominated by New Zealand (there is only 1 other King Salmon farm outside New Zealand in Chile). This premium species is very difficult to raise without intellectual property. So for the moment New Zealand retains a competitive advantage.

The addition of 12 more hectares (to the presently in situ 5 hectares) would provide the Marlborough Sounds area and New Zealand in general with considerable benefit These include:

    • 180 more jobs (there are presently 370 employees involved in farming king salmon)
    • Exports would grow from $60m to about $300m NZD
    • King salmon would occupy an additional 1% of the global Farmed Salmon Market (from 0.8% to 1.8%)
    • Total Revenue would grow from $110m to $400-500m NZD
    • Value from the farm gate per hectare would increase from $1.4m NZD to ~$20m NZD (this compares to farm gate value per hectare for beef and lamb of $721 NZD; dairy of $6,086; kiwifruit of $41,914; oysters of $28,889 and mussels of $39,238 NZD)
    • As of yet the approval (“the social licence to operate” ) to expand the King Salmon operation from 5 ha to a a lesser 12 ha is still pending… And this may take even longer if the justices of the New Zealand Supreme Court decide to hear the appeal.

A value of per hectare (at present) of S1.4 million NZD which could grow to $20 million NZD.  So long as steps are taken and measures are implemented that avoid or mitigate any adverse effects. , it would seem on the balance that the benefits as a result of this expansion from 5 hectares to 17 hectares are significant; and outweigh the detriments. Surely as a country we should be embracing opportunities with two hands. 

I am cognisant that if we don’t tap our potential as a country, our neighbours will. Tasmania has expanded their farmed salmon operations 5 fold and now produce 55,000 t of farmed salmon per annum (about 3.3% of the global supply).  Recently Norway opened a Norwegian seafood company (Marine Harvestopened a Seafood Processing Plant in Incheon, South Korea. Afterall it has been demonstrated that the demand for Salmon in Korea [and in other North Asian countries] is exponential – Norway moving to ensure it is them that will meet it! Incidentally Norwegian salmon occupies 60% of the global market.

Here is my point – While our competitors are striving forward creating market linkages and earning valuable export dollars.. Where is New Zealand? Why we are fighting over 5 hectares (4 marine paddocks), which have already not only demonstrated that they are sustainably environmentally, socially and economically, but according to the Global Aquaculture Performance Index, set the global best practice. 

The mind just boggles.

This picture shows two (2 ha) of the King Salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

This picture shows two (2 ha) of the King Salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

According to Penny Wardle of the Marlborough Post (Salmon appeal slated as waste of resources):

“Mr Rosewarne had expected that new farms would be in the water by now and the lengthy application process took him by surprise. King Salmon had started preparations for the new farms, including monitoring the four sites and growing brood fish to produce smolt. However, it [NZKS] was being careful not to get ahead of itself in case the Supreme Court set extra requirements. Last year delays forced the culling of $500,000 of fish.”

GFBF will remain optimistic.

The justices of the Supreme Court who may have ruled to hear the appeals, adding interpretational precedent with respect to how New Zealand Coastal Policy Statements are considered, will still rule in favour of New Zealand King Salmon. If they don’t they will be mortally wounding the New Zealand Aquaculture Industry which honestly, if we gauge the level of global demand for seafood protein, is just getting started.

2 thoughts on “The winner is… Well its not New Zealand! The New Zealand Supreme Court decides to hear the eNGO New Zealand King Salmon Appeals

  1. It is a fact if you newzealands do not go ahead with these projects other foreign multinational companies will do.
    Criticism of a project is O.K. when critic is reasonable. When it becomes excesive negative guided by fear to a possible environment impact the possibility of development and progress is denied. Newzealands have enough know how to do this by yourselves I wish you success!.

    • Thank you Hector. I totally agree with you. New Zealand’s environmental awareness can be a double edged sword. While environmental responsibility is a good thing, not doing anything because of this awareness is not so good. Like you said others will fill the gap that we are not occupying.

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