MFish Gives Preliminary Go-Ahead to NZ's Largest Marine Farm
15 December 2003
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) has given a preliminary go-ahead to New Zealand's largest marine farm. But MFish proposes approving a quarter of the farm's stocking density until further monitoring confirms its effect on the fisheries environment, in 15 years time.
In 2002 Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Department of Conservation granted Napier Mussels Limited a resource consent to develop the farm in five stages over twenty years. Each stage can only go ahead if monitoring shows the farm is not having a significant adverse effect on the environment.
In a preliminary decision, MFish has recommended a marine farm permit be granted for the entire 2465 ha farm. A condition will constrain the farm's development to the number of line approved for stage three, of its five stage development programme under Napier Mussel's resource consent. This means the number of mussel bearing lines are restricted to a quarter of the total lines proposed for the farm when fully developed.
"While the application site appears suitable for marine farming, MFish is concerned about the effects of the large-scale farm on the sustainability of fisheries resources in the wider Hawkes Bay," said MFish Senior Fisheries Management Advisor Scott Williamson.
"The farm is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and there is very little information available on the long-term effects of large scale marine farms. Therefore we have approached the last two stages of the farm with caution".
Stage three will take roughly 15 years to develop and, over this time MFish expects the company to monitor the effects of the farm. If monitoring results show the farm effects are acceptable, MFish will change conditions of the marine farming permit to allow the farm to be fully developed.
MFish received comments from both recreational and commercial fishing sectors objecting to the application. Mr Williamson said while MFish acknowledged these objectors would be affected by the farm, evaluation had determined the effect would not be undue.
MFish invites parties affected by the decision to send written comments to MFish before Thursday 5 February 2004. MFish would then review the comments before making a final decision.
Interested parties can view the preliminary decision report on MFish website www.fish.govt.nz.
For further information please contact:
Scott Williamson, Senior Fisheries Management Advisor, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 027 268 7058 or
Dan Lees, Fisheries Analyst, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 03 548 1069
- 2002 Napier Mussels Limited (NML) was granted resource consent by Hawke Bay Regional Council and Department of Conservation under the RMA. The resource consent (coastal permit) allows NML to develop the 2465 ha farm in 5 stages over 20 years (see below for development details)
Stage 1 = 24 mussel bearing lines
Stage 2 = 99 mussel bearing lines
Stage 3 = 243 mussel bearing lines
Stage 4 = 486 mussel bearing lines
Stage 5 = 918 mussel bearing lines
- Each stage can only proceed if monitoring shows the operating stage/s is not having a significant adverse effect on the environment.
Marine farming permit
- Before NML could start marine farming they needed to obtain a marine farming permit from the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish).
- August 2003 MFish started to process the 2465 ha application.
- Public consultation meetings were held on 25 August 2003 and 10 September 2003
- All three fishing sectors (commercial, recreational and customary) were invited to comment on the application. Commercial and recreational fishers objected to the application
- December 2003 MFish made a preliminary decision to grant the application
- The development has been restricted to stage 3 however, until monitoring confirms the effect of the farm on the fisheries environment.
Reasons for the preliminary decision
- NML's marine farming permit application is the largest to be evaluated in New Zealand to-date. There is little information available on large-scale marine farming effects
- The site appears suitable for marine farming
- MFish believes fishers will still be able to catch their allocations/bag limits outside of the farm
- MFish is concerned about the wider effects of the farm on fisheries resources. In particular, juvenile lobster settlement on the structures (leading to mortality and not recruiting to the fishery) and plankton depletion (detrimental effect to the aquatic food chain and loss of recruitment into fisheries)
- Monitoring will provide better information to review permit conditions to approve stage 4 and 5.
Where to from here?
- Parties affected by the decision will be invited to comment by 3 February 2004
- MFish will evaluate any additional information and proceed to a finial decision
If a marine farming permit is granted, the national water space utilised by marine farming will increase by 50%.