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Environment matters.

By Ady Cole-Ewen.

Dolphins and seabirds suffer from FinFish Farming

Farming and its impact on dolphins and seabirds is not considered in the recent Environment Court case of granting consent to Pare Hauraki and Peter Bull to farm FinFish in Hauraki Gulf as well as a spat Farm in mercury bay just off the coast of Wharekaho. This is a very brief excerpt from a study executed by Anise Reserve as part of its contributions to our knowledge and conservation of Chilean Patagonia. It is worthwhile comparing this to what is about to happen in our own region.

Two basic findings from research:

1. Moored farms and their associated services are a potential cause of chemical, biological and acoustic pollution, eutrophication, vessel collisions, introduction of exotic species and habitat exclusion. In spite of all attempts to control these issues the main problems persist since the sea-pen method, instead of inland pools, was implemented for Salmon (FinFish) Faming.

2.The use of large volumes of wide-spectrum prophylactic antibiotics has resulted in the emergence of antibiotic resistance and more virulent pathogenic bacterial recombinants. In this context it is possible that the cutaneous lesions that are emerging on dolphins are associated with the increased presence of pathogenic antibiotic resistant zoonotic pathogens, that may be transmitted to beachgoers, fishermen, and wildlife personnel (Bogomolni et al 2008)

The pyrethroids cypermethrin and deltamethrin are commonly used by the FishFish industry to control infestations of sea lice. These persistent organic pesticides are highly toxic to fish, algae, and aquatic invertebrates. The following photograph of the dolphin surveyed speak for itself.

On 25 January 2013, a mature individual with a severe ski condition was sighted alone, swimming with difficulty close to shore.

A male Chilean dolphin was found dead on 5th Feb 2013 and re-identified as RA0002 by the type and pattern of its lesions. Most of the body surface including the head, flanks, abdomen, peduncle, and dorsal fin, presented skin ulcers of variable sizes. The largest were located on the peduncle, thoracic flanks, and dorsal fin. Large and medium sized ulcers seemed composed of the fusion of smaller lesions. Skin loss and tissue destruction exposed deep layers of the dermis. The immediate cause of death was attributed to septicemia following perforation of the main stomach.

The Increasing presence of aquaculture in coastal waters calls for a better understanding of its environmental impacts. On the Sardinian Coast it was undeniably proved that once Fish Farming was introduced the dolphins stayed away. Sightings prior to the Fish Farm changed dramatically after it was established. Cetaceans have not been reported to consume fish or shellfish out of farms but have been known to get tangled in equipment, resulting in them being shy of hanging ropes and therefor unable to herd their prey in their natural way. Do we want to lose our dolphins from Mercury Bay?

The answer to preventing Mercury Bay and surrounds from becoming just another victim of ropes, buoys, noise, and pollution, is to put this currently pristine area forward to become a World Heritage Site, protecting the Great Bay of Hei in perpetuity and preserving all cultural and historical values forever. Say “No” to commercial fishing/farming but still allow recreational and tourist activities, controlled recreational fishing/diving, and a major focus on tourism. World Heritage Site status is not easy to achieve, but we have a valued endorsement from Professor Gordon S. Maxwell who has confirmed that Mercury Bay and surrounds provide all the outstanding environmental features that would make this endeavour possible. World Heritage Site status would put us right up there on the list of the most visited sites of the world. We are looking in the wrong direction for prosperity and a quality life. The treasure of this area is the natural environment – a gift to all of us to sustain, which means the people are the Coromandel’s second treasure and we need to act to protect the waters of the Gulf and the bays.

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