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Another Missile Launched In Government’s War On Nature

The Government’s arrogant disregard for the natural world is again on display, this time threatening coastal waters and the ocean, as it plans to automatically extend the duration of all marine farm consents in the country. And it is giving stakeholders just one week to provide feedback.

There are approximately 1200 marine farms in New Zealand and the proposal is to enable all of those, without exception, to continue operating for another 25 years (in addition to what they’re already consented for, which may be as long as 35 years). The extensions will be legislated for, without any substantive community input or assessment of environmental effects.

“This is a preposterous proposal,” says EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“We know our seas are warming and acidifying and sites that may have been suitable for marine farming in the past will not necessarily be so in the future. We are already seeing the die-off of hundreds of salmon in the Marlborough Sounds during the warm summer months.

“Aquaculture is a good way of feeding people, but it has the potential to cause significant adverse effects on marine ecosystems if located in the wrong place. In particular, farms located in shallow, low flow sites can significantly impact the water column and seabed habitats through the discharge of uneaten food, excrement and shell drop-off.

“The cumulative impacts of marine farms also need to be considered, particularly in areas such as the Marlborough Sounds where there are nearly 600 farms. The proposed extension would give the industry carte blanche to operate without proper consideration of the health of the receiving environment, or changes to it over time. The council there is already identifying marine farms in unsuitable areas, so they can be relocated, and this process will override that.

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“Aquaculture can also create significant biosecurity risks as well as impact other marine users.

“Consents need to be carefully scrutinised on their individual merits. Many older consents have few and inadequate conditions attached to them. The National Environmental Standards for Marine Aquaculture 2020 already provides a speedy framework for reconsenting, in which non-notified approvals can be given if there are no concerns, and conditions updated to meet current best practice.

“EDS was advised of the Government’s proposal last Friday afternoon. In a show of unfathomable distain for environmental groups, and after asking for more time and being refused, we have been given 1 working week to provide feedback. The proposal is outlined in an inadequate one-page document without any consideration of the environment. This is consultation tokenism and is disgraceful.

“The ramifications of 1200 consent extensions are significant. They will lock in out-dated practices and marine farms in the wrong place, impacting future generations for decades to come. The industry should itself be concerned at this crude policy response and the reputational impact it will have on the sector, on current and emerging free trade agreements and its exports,” concluded Mr Taylor.

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