Government Mesmerised by Trout Farming’s Mythical Bait

Press Release 3/11/15

A national trout fishing organisation says lobbying for trout farming by the aquaculture industry and corporate fishing companies, is based on a “mythical” economic value and neglected the dangers of trout farming to the country’s public trout fisheries.

Spokesman for the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers, Ken Sims of Palmerston North said fish farming was risky and of little economic value, especially when compared with the multi-million value of the wild sporting trout fisheries, which generated many millions of dollars in both international and domestic tourism. The Taupo fishery alone was worth $90 million a year.

“It is also alarming to see government cabinet ministers and their departments showing signs of being deluded by the fallacies around trout farming,” he added. “Trout farming is banned in New Zealand so as to protect the public’s trout fishery from threats trout farming generates such as poaching and black market incentives, disease, erosion of wild stock genetics, effluent pollution and other detrimental effects.”

The  Federation of Freshwater Anglers, was well aware of current advocacy by the aquaculture industry to legalise trout farming within NZ, but was appalled by the open support trout farming was getting from Government agencies for what was currently an illegal activity. It called on Government, and in particular Ministers Stephen Joyce, Nathan Guy and Te Ururoa Flavell, to state categorically what Government’s position and intentions on trout farming in New Zealand were, and to explain why  their ministries were “openly and enthusiastically advocating” and supporting  an illegal activity, i.e. commercial trout farming.
Ken Sims said government ministry functions were to give effect to the law and enact Government policies.

“So when two of National’s much vaunted Super-Ministries, along with other Ministries, start to openly advocate trout farming, the inevitable question is, are they reflecting current Government policy? We know that they aren’t giving effect to the law – which makes trout farming illegal. Or have they been so captured by the commercial pro-trout farm interests?” 

Mr Sims said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Ministry of Maori Development had all advocated trout farming in the Bay of Plenty Regional Economic Development Plan, which was signed by all three relevant Ministers. 
“It stretches credibility that the three Ministers would put their signature on such a document without knowing the contents.” 

Disease was a constant problem for fish farming where fish were crowded into confined spaces. There was strong doubt about the ability of the Ministry of Primary Industries to administer fish farming as was shown by the “utter fiasco” in the way the ministry handled the King Salmon disease outbreak in its farms in the Marlborough Sounds. The Malaysian-owned company had suffered huge fish kills in its Marlborough farms, particularly at Wahinau, for a number of years.  “MPI somehow ‘forgot’ to mention this to the Environment Commissioners hearing the company’s application last year to increase the number of farms it runs there. Then it emerged that the company is trucking its dead fish up to a North Island processing plant unsterilized.”
Now MPI had finally acknowledged that there was a problem, said Ken Sims, partially caused by two organisms previously unknown in NZ, including one that was responsible for large fish kills in fish farms overseas, and which can infect and kill both salmon and trout. The other (NZRLO) was listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, because of its threat to fish. 

“As is usual in such cases, the Ministry claimed that such organisms, rather than being new, have probably been present in NZ for some time, and admitted it has not been able to identify them. Despite the admission of incompetence and lack of knowledge, the Ministry somehow concluded that (a) introduced exotic infectious agents were unlikely to be the cause of the massive fish kills, and (b) there were no management plans or options available to prevent the transfer of these organisms to other salmon farms or to wild salmon or trout fisheries,” he said.

Mr Sims pointed out that MPI  had finally put out a two page document on the Marlborough salmon kills, but such was the ingrained bias within the ministry towards trout farming,  it claimed that ‘no unusual fish death events have been reported to them from salmon or trout farms in other areas of NZ’. 

“Apparently, within MPI at least, trout farming is a ‘fait accompli’”.

Contact: Ken Sims
Ph (06) 356 9402
E mail:

Alan Simmons

Alan Simmons

President & Co-Leader Alan has dedicated a lifetime of involvement in outdoors political issues. He’s sat on a number of national body executives, boards, NGO and management groups, including the NZ Professional Hunting Guides Association, Electricorp Environmental Management Board, NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association. Many will know him through his website, the hugely popular New Zealand FishnHunt forum.

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