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New Zealand’s largest marine farm

22 March 2006

Preliminary go-ahead for New Zealand’s largest marine farm

The Ministry of Fisheries has given a preliminary go-ahead to New Zealand’s largest marine farm. In a preliminary decision, the Ministry has recommended a marine farm permit be granted to Eastern Sea Farms Limited for a 3,800 ha farm in Eastern Bay of Plenty. The recommendation equates to 80% of the area applied for.

“We had to judge whether the proposed farm would unduly affect fishing, or the sustainability of fisheries resources in the area,” says Ministry of Fisheries’aquaculture manager Dan Lees.

“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 and commercial fishing in the wider Bay of Plenty.

“There is very little information available on the long-term effects of large scale marine farms in New Zealand. Therefore we have approached development of the farm with caution.”

The applicant and affected parties now have the opportunity to provide additional information before the Ministry’s final decision is made.

“We like to run an open process,” says Mr Lees. “Now that I have made this preliminary decision, parties get to see what I am thinking and what information I have taken into account. They can then provide additional information they wish me to consider.

“Any additional information provided will be carefully considered before final decisions to grant or decline this application are made.”

The resource consent is currently under appeal by the Environment Court. Under the dual permit system, the Ministry of Fisheries can process the application but cannot issue a marine farming permit until the Court has approved the resource consent. Eastern Seafarms Limited has given MFish the approval to go ahead with processing the marine farming permit.

This application was notified by council before the recent aquaculture reforms came in, and therefore must be processed under the previous legislation. It is not part of the Environment Bay of Plenty’s recently proposed Aquaculture Management Areas.

The Ministry of Fisheries will be contacting stakeholders, and is asking parties affected by the decision to send any additional written comments to the Ministry before Friday 5 May 2006. These comments will be reviewed before a final decision is made.

The final decision will likely be made this winter.

ENDS

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