Earlier than I had expected, King Salmon is again in the news – this time for ‘not delivering’  on levels of Omega 3 promised on packaging and ‘delivering copper and zinc levels’ that exceed guidelines in the environment.

This week Consumer Magazine, in their article Salmon Run have revealed that (i) vegetable and abattoir products rather than marine products, make up the bulk of salmon feed, despite the fact that King Salmon claims the diet of the Salmon mimics that of wild salmon. The Consumer investigation also found that (ii) levels of Omega 3 in the fish were much lower than advertised (this was also the case with Signature range and Aoraki salmon) and (iii) that past annual monitoring reports have indicated that copper and zinc levels have exceed guidelines. Monitoring in 2011 also found the Otaneru Bay King Salmon farm to be ‘highly impacted’ and ‘biologically impoverished beyond the point at which wastes can be efficiently assimilated’ and the Forsyth Bay farm had reached the ‘maximum acceptable environmental quality standards.’ Results of the 2012 monitoring reports are currently being evaluated through an independent review sought by the Marlborough District Council. Consumer also notes that (iv) increased mortality rates and deformities occurring in fish in Pelorus Sound, and were first noticed late last year. The abnormalities included skin lesions and spinal malformations; however it is not known what part the fish’s diet play in causing such deformities. Consumer reports that the MPI has recently commissioned King Salmon on behalf of the Salmon Improvement Group $600,000 to investigate possible causes. We question why $600,000 of government funds have been allocated to King Salmon on behalf of an  industry group why there is no independent investigation and no promise of a public report. View the Consumer investigation here.

Personally I no longer trust King Salmon. Our experience at the recent Board of Inquiry Hearing, reported here, raises questions over the quality of the evidence presented to the Board, and these recent findings by Consumer only add further weight to these concerns. This brings into question whether the quality of the information King Salmon provided at the public hearing can be relied upon and whether enough due diligence was completed by the EPA. In addition, it raises additional questions over the extent the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) was aware of King Salmon’s misrepresentations before the Hearing closed; where they aware of the extent of non marine feed products, the Omega 3 issue, the copper and zinc levels and the deformities. MPI must operate in the best interests of the public, not in the best interests of King Salmon. We are concerned that independence must not only exist, but be seen to exist.  From our understanding there is nothing new about these deformities, so why is MPI concerned now, rather than tabling their concerns at the Hearing late last year. We plan to raise these issues directly with MPI and report back.

See here for Radio New Zealand’s coverage on the story and here for King Salmon’s reply.

(1) The High Court dismissed two appeals against the Board of Inquiry’s decision on the New Zealand King Salmon proposal on 8 August 2013. Since that decision, applications to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court have been made by The Environmental Defence Society and Sustain our Sounds. More information can be found on the EPA’s website here.

(2) I will be speaking about the King Salmon application at the Blenheim Rotary Club on the 29thof October at 6pm. If you are interested in attending please contact John Leader at Jhnlead8@hotmail.com.

Congratulations to Jessica Wilson at Consumer, great research.