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Fish Farming in The Gulf Moves Closer

The WRC has advised that it is their intention to "consider the fin-fish tender at the full Council nmeeting on 26 May." (tomorrow!)

A Timeline of Reports and Investigations accompanies the notification, and that should be kept in mind while considering the next step in the process. 

It will suffice to record at this stage Rule 16.5.5E from the Regional Coastal Plan that relates particularly to the concerns held by opponents to the fish-farming proposals. There are others, but these are particularly pertinent:

Rule 16.5.5E Discharge of Feed, Medicines and Therapeutic Compounds Associated with Marine Farming within Coromandel Marine Farming Zone (Restricted Discretionary Activity)

The discharge of any feed, medicine or therapeutic compound into the coastal marine area associated with marine farming activities located within the Coromandel marine farming zone, and any associated deposition of fish wastes, is a restricted discretionary activity provided it complies with the standards and terms stated in this Rule.

Standards and Terms

 i)         The applicant holds or has applied for a consent under Rule 16.5.5D for the same farm site.

 ii)        The amount of net nitrogen and feed discharge authorised by the consent will be a proportion of the total allowed in the zone, equivalent to the proportion of the area of the zone that the proposed farm will occupy.

 iii)       The cumulative total net nitrogen discharge within the Coromandel marine farming zone shall not exceed 800 tonnes per year and the cumulative total feed discharge shall not exceed 13,600 tonnes per year.

Extent of Discretion

The matters to which the Waikato Regional Council will restrict the exercise of its discretion are:    

  • The extent to which the discharge is likely to cause the production of conspicuous oil, grease films, scums, foams, or floatable suspended materials.
  • The ecological toxicity, persistence and bio-accumulations potential of any discharged compound or contaminants derived from them (individually and in combination) to any species potentially exposed.
  • The effect of the discharge, and any contaminants derived from it, and any associated fish wastes (either by itself or in combination with other discharges) on aquatic life, kaimoana or on other marine farms.
  • The effect of the discharge, and any contaminants derived from it, and any associated fish wastes on sediment quality and water quality, including colour, clarity and odour.
  • The solubility of any discharged compound and contaminants derived from it.
  • The extent to which adverse effects on water and sediment quality will impact on other activities, in particular marine farming.
  • Demonstration that the volume and level of discharge has been minimised to the greatest extent possible.
  • Mechanisms for modifying or changing the medicines or therapeutics to be used within the farm.
  • The adequacy of the proposed disease management plan.
  • The proposed adaptive management regime.
  • The proposed environmental monitoring programme in relation to its ability to address the standards and terms of this Rule.
  • Whether or not a consent has been granted under Rule 16.5.5D that relates to the same part of the coastal marine area.
  • The consistency of the proposed activity with the objectives and policies of this Plan.
  • The imposition of a condition relating to the review of any or all conditions.

Conditions will be imposed in respect of, but not limited to, the following matters:

i)          The staging of development consistent with Rule 16.5.8;

ii)         The type, volume, rate and frequency of discharges of feed, medicinal or therapeutic compounds; and

iii)        Timing and purpose of reviews of any or all conditions in accordance with section 128 of the Resource Management Act 1991.

One would have thought that these requirements were sufficiently robust for the purposes of approving an allocation in accordance with the tender, but we all know how these requirements can be circumvented in the face of strong Government and Council determination to implement its aquaculture policies regardless of logic, or overwhelming external evidence.

It is therefore extremely important that all those concerned about the environmental health of the Gulf pay particular attention to manner in which these matters are dealt with during the processes that have been set in train.

Vigilance on this score has never been more important.




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