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Preliminary Go-Ahead To NZ's Largest Marine Farm

Mfish Gives Preliminary Go-Ahead To NZ's Largest Marine Farm

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 lines 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.


ENDS

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