12. RICHARD PROSSER (NZ First) to the Minister of Conservation: What was her reasoning behind approving the transfer and release of silver carp near Lake Taupō?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): Let me make it very clear that I have not signed an approval to transfer, and that I have only signalled to the company an approval if the applicant and the Department of Conservation reach an agreement on risk mitigation and on potential penalties.
Richard Prosser: Is she completely confident that silver carp pose no risk to our trout fishery; if so, why?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: In terms of the applicant and this particular farm, and I will keep it specific to this, the Department of Conservation’s technical and science advisory team has advised that this company has gone a long way down the track to mitigating silver carp staying within the ponds. Silver carp and grass carp, as the member may know, are breeds of fish that will not breed in New Zealand waters unless they have hormonal injections. So there are very many reasons through nature and through this applicant that would cause our Department of Conservation staff to say that this is one of the safer applications, but it has not yet been approved.
Richard Prosser: I seek leave to table a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research document from 2013 highlighting the risk of silver carp breeding in the Waikato River.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Richard Prosser: What evaluations have been done on the potential impacts of silver carp on New Zealand’s freshwater aquatic environment, including their potential impact on our trout fisheries?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I am confining my comments to the application that has come before me as the Minister of Conservation. As I said earlier, these fish do not readily breed in the waterways around the Waikato, let alone into Lake Taupō, without injections. So in terms of mitigation of risks around our fisheries, the wording that our team has used is that the risk to our fisheries and our waterways is highly unlikely, and that there is a low probability of fish escaping. As I said, I am confining my comments to the application that is before me as the Minister.
Richard Prosser: Is she aware that silver carp compete for the same diet as trout smelt, and they can grow to 40 kilograms in size?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: That may well be the case. That is not what you were asking in the primary question in terms of the notification question that you gave me, and in terms of this particular application.
Richard Prosser: I seek leave to table a paper published by the Department of Conservation in 1999, which, among other things, says that proposals for the use of silver carp should be approved for experimental—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a document published by the Department of Conservation in 1999. If members want it, I am sure they can find it.