Salmon farm preparing for repairs

A salmon farm on the Tekapo hydro canal is preparing for a ''one-in-50 year'' storm, when the canal closes in January to allow Genesis Energy to carry out repairs to leaking sections of the waterway.

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon will have to de-stock some of the 500 metric tonnes of salmon farmed in the canal, which links the Tekapo A and B powerhouses owned by Genesis Energy, when sections of the canal are closed for 14 weeks to allow a $125 million repair programme to begin.

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon chief executive Geoff Matthews said the salmon farm would have to move stock, just as any other farmer would when faced with an approaching storm.

''We are farmers, and we don't suffer any other weather events. I liken this to a once-in-50-year storm coming, but we have had two years to prepare for it so we're not whingeing too much."

The company is in the process of finalising a $20 million expansion programme on to two other North Otago canals, and Mr Matthews said the company was fortunate it now had facilities on the Ohau and Ruataniwha canals and was not reliant on the Tekapo canal alone.

''Naturally, at that time of the year, we would harvest all our big fish out anyway, because they naturally die by mid-February of their third year. So all of our big fish will come out and we are also putting the new smolt that will come in on other canals that we farm."

He said remaining stock in the Tekapo canal would be spread out with reduced feed.

The water in the canal would also be aerated and oxygenated, he said. Although it was ''not a cheap exercise'', it would not result in a loss of production, he said.

''Obviously, it's something that we would have a much easier summer without."

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz