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Planning For The Future Of Marine Farming

The clock is ticking for the public to have their say on the Council’s suggested changes to marine and finfish farming provisions in the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan.

The public consultation process closes on 26 February 2021.

Variations 1 (marine farming) and 1A (finfish farming) to the environment plan were publicly notified in early December. This came after two years of work by the Marlborough Aquaculture Review Working Group (MARWG). The MARWG included members of the marine farming industry, Marlborough Sounds’ community organisations and central government agencies. The Ministers of Fisheries, Conservation, Environment and Transport, along with Te Tau Ihu iwi were also consulted.

Planning, Finance & Community Committee Chair Councillor Mark Peters encouraged anyone with an interest in marine or finfish farming, or the Marlborough Sounds, to make their views on the proposals known. “The Council can only make changes requested in submission, so it is really important that as many people as possible consider the variations and make a submission, irrespective of whether they support or oppose them. This is the public’s opportunity to have their say,” he said.

Variation 1 (marine farming) divides the Sounds into 45 Coastal Management Units, distinct geographical areas based on catchments, key features and values. It also identifies Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs), areas considered appropriate for marine farms within these coastal units. New marine farms will be prohibited outside the AMAs within the enclosed waters of the Marlborough Sounds.

“The Council is required by Policy 8 of the NZ Coastal Policy Statement to provide for aquaculture in appropriate places in the coastal environment. That is what we are attempting to do through the identification of AMAs. The Council’s goal is to develop meaningful parcels of water that can be easily located on a map, and have policies and rules applied directly to them,” said Clr Peters.

The proposed marine farming variation will encourage existing marine farms to move away from the foreshore ‘euphotic zone’ while staying within the Aquaculture Management Areas. This zone is the uppermost layer of water that receives sunlight and supports a biological process which supplies nutrients into the upper water column.

“The proposal also supports research to establish appropriate environmental baselines and to manage the effects that aquaculture activities have on these baselines. It also encourages research and development of open water marine farming,” said Clr Peters.

Variation 1A (finfish farming) will create Finfish Aquaculture Management Areas (FAMAs), areas where finfish farming is considered appropriate in the district.

“Some Finfish Aquaculture Management Areas cover existing finfish farms. Other FAMAs are in places that would be appropriate for finfish farms, but there aren’t any farms there yet. This provides an opportunity for existing finfish farms in inappropriate locations to relocate,” said Clr Peters.

The Council’s proposed Variation 1A has been informed by the report and recommendations from the Marlborough Sounds Salmon Farm Relocation Advisory Panel.

The public can access the proposed variations and background material at the Council offices or public libraries in Blenheim, Picton, Havelock and Rai Valley. For further information or to submit, go to:



Note for Editors:

The Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan is the new resource management document for the Marlborough district. It is a combined regional policy statement, regional coastal plan, regional plan and district plan that was publicly notified in June 2016. Submissions have already been received on the Plan, hearing of submissions has taken place and a decision was publicly notified in February 2020. The decisions are now subject to appeal. The Plan will eventually replace the current Marlborough Regional Policy Statement, Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan, and the Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plan.

Proposed Variation 1: Marine Farming

This is the main variation. It adds provisions to the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan that contains objectives, policies and rules about how marine farming activities will be sustainably managed in the Marlborough district. Variation 1 mainly addresses longline farming like mussels, oysters, and seaweed. It also divides the Sounds into small Coastal Management Units and Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs).

Proposed Variation 1A: Finfish Farming

This variation specifically addresses finfish farming in the district. Finfish farms would be managed by the objectives, policies and rules in the proposed aquaculture provisions. Proposed Variation 1A would create Finfish Aquaculture Management Areas (FAMAs).


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