Seventeen-year-old Leona Plaisier organised and delivered her petition of more than 5,000 signatures opposing a salmon farm expansion in the Marlborough Sounds to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) hearing this week.
The online petition's website claimed the proposed expansion of nine farms will harm the pristine marine environment and spread disease.
Plaisier said the company had still not explained “why thousands of salmon died this year and had to be trucked away on a barge.”
“This is not their environment alone to use, there is a whole network here – human, animal and plant alike – that need the health of the area maintained to survive.”
NZ King Salmon has applied for a plan change to get special permission to set up marine farms in prohibited zones with its applications lodged with the EPA.
The body was set up by the government to address resource management concerns where the contribution to the New Zealand economy could be considerable.
NZ King Salmon said expanding their farms from five to 11 hectares would still only use about 0.1 percent of the total Marlborough Sounds surface area.
They said a team of our staff, scientists and specialists has undertaken extensive research on various locations around the Marlborough Sounds over the past year.
The company could not confirm whether any independent research had occurred, although they said the industry had huge benefits while having relatively low and localised environmental consequences.
Plaisier said her organisation, saveoursounds.co.nz, explored current salmon farm sites found, “ a seafloor black with rot, with no other sea life at all”.
Aquaculture has been targeted by the National Government as a lucrative export earner for the future and NZ King Salmon believes its proposal is part of the industry’s plan to achieve $1 billion in sales by 2025.
The EPA hearing outcome, to grant the expansion or redirect the process through the usual Resource Management Act process, is still under consideration in Blenheim.