Taupo Fishery Regulations:
Gifts of trout
Offences and Penalties
Mr Orman, of the Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association, said farming trout could damage New Zealand’s world famous trout fishery, which was a big earner of tourism dollars and a recreation asset. “Estimates put the economic generation of trout fishing at $70 million a year,” he said.
Allowing the sale of trout flesh would encourage poaching and sale on black markets, impossible to control in New Zealand’s multitude of wild rivers, Mr Orman said.
Overseas, whirling disease and ulcerative dermal necrosis were among illnesses which flared up in trout farms then spread to wild trout and salmon, he said.
Mr Goodfellow said his family always openly disclosed that they were Sanford shareholders. He did not know the company was actively lobbying the Government to free up salmon-farming, but this was the domain of managers, not directors, he said.
However, Mr Goodfellow supported discussion about whether commercial farming of trout might be compatible with safeguarding recreational fishing.
Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game manager Neil Deans, of Nelson, said if Sanford was serious about trout farming, it would need to approach his organisation as the sole source of stock. This was unless they planned to import trout, which was unlikely to be allowed. “They would have to convince the anglers of New Zealand that this would be a good thing but … trout farming has always been our risk and someone else’s gain.”
Unlike salmon, trout were edible when they spawned so the breeding fish could be scooped up in large numbers then sold, he said.
Opening up commercial hatcheries around New Zealand risked the spread of diseases like whirling disease, found in Canterbury but not in the North Island, Mr Deans said. Farm escapees could corrupt the wild gene pool, he said. Trout were a freshwater species with a very different biology to salmon and less highly valued for aquaculture.
Any government must weigh up disease, genetic, poaching and also biosecurity risks like the spread of didymo against minimal gain, he said.
New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers president Ken Sims, of Palmerston North, questioned whether government would encourage the Sanford proposal to replace mussels, which filtered the water they lived in, with trout, which would heavily pollute their environment.
A MAF spokesperson said trout farming is prohibited under the Conservation Act and Fisheries Act. In the early 1970s salmon and trout farming where both considered, but the government decided to only allow salmon farming.