The following are my thoughts on the proposed Taupo Carp Farm.
I wrote the blog ( Advocate 14/15) in November advising the intention of a grass carp farm in Taupo. The Advocates were 1 of 9 to make a submission on the carp farm, and at the end of December received a reply stating that the Department of Conservation had approved the carp farm. I have had the opportunity to read and consider the proposal.
In the blog 14/15 I stated that the process lacked public awareness and was moving too fast and the latest report in the Taupo Weekender (18 Feb. 2016) announcing “Controversial carp project on hold” justifies our position. Public awareness came about as a result of an article in the Taupo Times (26 Jan. 2016) resulting in a strong voice opposing the carp farm in Taupo.
I put my thoughts in writing to the Advocates For the Tongariro River committee and I now put them to you.
My view is that it is difficult to argue against the proposed carp farm but that it should not be located in this area.
My search of the web tells me:
- That Grass and Silver Carp have been in NZ for 50 years
- That neither species can breed in NZ waters should they escape.
- That there are 2 carp farms in Nelson – opened in 2013.
- It was all reported in the newspaper and there was also a TV programme on the Nelson carp farm on Rural Delivery that is still available on line.
- That NIWA and MPI have studied both grass and silver carp in depth and confirm that they can’t breed in NZ
- Paul Decker at Mahurangi Technical Institute in Warkworth has convinced me that the species cannot breed in NZ waters – water temperature is not warm enough, flow rates and length of river thwart reproduction.
- DOC have a set of requirements for establishing a carp farm that are online and have been there for some time.
- The Hon.David Carter (Speaker of the House) as Minister of MPI in 2013 stated that trout farming would not be an issue for the next 3 years and offered “Farm carp instead”. He was opening the Nelson Carp Farm of Robert Hutton in Stoke, Nelson.
- NZ demographics are changing and there is a growing Asian population for whom the eating of grass carp is established and therefore is the market.
- The Minister of Conservation has signed off on the carp farm but the Ministry of Primary Industries has yet to issue a license to operate the freshwater grass and silver carp farm in Taupo.
Why not in Taupo ?
- The carp will escape. They did from an area in the Lower Waikato river some years ago but have not been able to breed. There are numerous issues with well-intentioned releases of birds,plants, animals, fish and insects which are now regarded as pests and therefore we have reason to be concerned and even sceptical.
- A major issue is effluent. Fish excrete a lot of material. The matter is covered in the proposal documents. The ponds are to be cleared , the effluent processed and used in the beautification of the carp farm grounds. How good will that treatment be. Will there be eutrophication as with many of the sewage systems around the lake which have needed costly upgrades to rectify.
- We have paid through rates and tax to improve the water quality of Lake Taupo . $90,000,000. We don’t need a species that will stir up the shallow areas of the lake should some get into the lake and live for 20 years.
- If grass carp is successful will it be the forerunner for trout farming?
- The proposal was kept quiet through the consent process by TDC and WRC not requiring notification therefore it could proceed without public awareness. The consent process by both councils was not for a carp farm but for land use (TDC) and earthworks (WRC). DOC granted a Transfer and Release of a Restricted Species License, but as the Editor of the Taupo Times said to me when I asked why there was nothing in the Taupo Times about the carp farm, “What Carp Farm?”
- Water will be transferred through the movement of live fish from Warkworth to Taupo and Taupo to Auckland. We support a Check Clean Dry policy and carriage of water from other areas is against this policy although DOC provisions counter this.
Auckland is the market. If we must have a carp farm then let it be in or near Auckland. The economic advantage of closeness to the market would reduce the cost of heating water.
I have asked for a public meeting on this topic. I hope to be able to report when this meeting will be held.