By Malcolm Campbell.
A news item in another local paper indicates that the Kingfish Farming venture is approved to go ahead. Earlier published was a snippet that these fish would be fed 20,000 tonnes of feed annually. That quantity would fill a bin one kilometre long, five metres wide and four metres deep. That is if the feed was the same weight as water. However, pellets are likely to be lighter than water and the bin is possibly quite a lot longer than one kilometre but still five metres wide and four metres deep.
We know from the twenty-two member Hauraki Gulf Forum that the water quality has worsened over the last three years, with no apparent sign that there is any solution from all of the other agencies involved, to saving the health of the Gulf. Although National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has launched an investigation into the effects of mussel farming, private observations report that under the mussel farms, the seabed is a mess. Are these reports correct? Has anyone else observed what is happening?
There is the other problem that as this body of water is not exposed to any consistent tidal current, the waste from the fish is going to flow back and forth with the ebbing and rising tide constantly being further fouled daily with fish effluent. Watch what happens at Ngatea in the Piako River as flotsam flows back and forth under the influence of the tide, until slowly and eventually, the weeds, usually poisoned, are emptied into the sea, the Hauraki Gulf.
Meanwhile back on the land, people must not spill any effluent anywhere for fear of prosecution. A small discharge from a faulty irrigator that causes a pool of waste can result in an instant fine and if farm labour, a share-milker, is involved, both parties will be fined. It gets worse because the Resource Management Act states that the waste does not have to contaminate the water; it only ‘has to have the potential to contaminate. Environment Waikato can say, ‘if heavy rain should fall, it may cause run-off into a water body’.
Not just in the Gulf but with those who work the land
The Regional Council is not finished with the people who work the land, not yet any way, as Section 341 of the RMA states ‘It is not necessary to prove the defendant intended to commit the offence’. That appears to indicate that accidents are strictly forbidden and if an accident does happen, the victim is liable to prosecution.
One case in validation of this, happened in Morrinsville during a storm on the last working day of 2018, when a tree crashed through a sewer pipe late in the day and sewage escaped toward the Piako River. The Matamata Piako District Council (MPDC)Staff were onto the job, but felt that with darkness and stormy conditions, it was too dangerous to continue working. However, they were early on the job the next day and had the pipe repaired by 9.00am. Environment Waikato arrived around 11.00am and felt MPDC staff had not done enough and instituted a successful prosecution in 2020, for what was a totally unforeseen accident.
This seems to ‘prove beyond any doubt’ that effluent must not be spilled accidently or otherwise unless authorised by Environment Waikato who are permitting the discharge of waste from the kingfish directly into water where they will be constantly in their own effluent. The Regional Council has overridden strong opposition to this venture to establish a double standard of environmental protection.
“Unquestioning belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth”. Albert Einstein
Malcolm Campbell is a farmer of 70 years, a pilot, community leader and author of several research documents on the history of farming and local government in the Waikato region.