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Fin-Fish Proposal Revives!

At 10am this morning, the WRC Strategy & Policy Committee has before it a paper that has just been made public recommending the the Council again open up Coromandel Marine Farming Zone to inetested parties for tender. Where, you may ask, has this come from - it was very near dead and buried three years ago. Read the entire Report here.

What it does not say is that kingfish - once a drag on the inetrnational market has suddenly become once again the darling of the sushi brigade, and the new market means that once again we have to go to the ramparts to protect our Gulf from the inroads of those who refuse to acknowledge the disasterous environmental effects of their cultivation in closed waters.

Read the following extracts from the Paper to get a clearer view of what is going on: (Note - underlining is mine)


1.  That the report “Release of the Coromandel Marine Farming Zone for fish farming” (Doc #3770328, dated 14 April 2016) be received, and

2.   That the Strategy and Policy Committee recommends to Councoil that it direct staff to release the Coromandel Marine farming Zone by calling for tender proposals to carry out fish farming or other fed aquaculture within the zone.

Due to the global financial crash,the interest in fish farming, and the capacity to invest in it, declined. Until now there has been no significant demand to use the space. Recently, council staff have been advised of a proposal to farm fish in the Coromandel Marine Farming Zone (CMFZ). We have been asked to release the space so that they may apply for resource consent.

A common theme in managing the impacts of fish farming is the importance of good site selection, particularly as this relates to water depth and flushing of the site. Shallow and poorly flushed sites often demonstrate accumulation of organic waste on the seafloor due to deposition of fish faeces and waste food.

This can lead to smothering of the seafloor and reduction in dissolved oxygen in the sediment and the overlying water column. In extreme cases the conditions are no longer suitable for organisms living in and on the sediment and those that cannot move away die. Low oxygen in the water column can also have detrimental effects on the farmed fish as the mixing of the water may bring the low oxygen bottom water to the surface. Good site selection and good farm management practices can alleviate these effects.

In this regard the CMFZ is superior to Area C of the Wilson Bay Zone as it lies in deeper water (35- 40 metres compared to about 25 metres) and is in a better flushed area outside of the inner Firth of Thames.

Note that this discussion has not considered other environmental effects such as impacts on landscapes, natural character, navigation, or public access. These matters have partly been addressed by the creation of a zone for marine farming, but it is expected that a more specific assessment of them may be required at the consenting stage.

When the fish farming areas were established in 2011, a nitrogen discharge limit was imposed on each zone. For Area C the limit is 300 of nitrogen tonnes per year, while for the CMFZ the limit is 800 tonnes per year. The CMFZ is also subject to a feed discharge limit of 13,600 tonnes per year.

Since these limits were imposed additional monitoring of the Firth of Thames and analysis of the data has been carried out and presented to Council in August 20154. As a result of this work, WRC staff are not satisfied with the level of information that is available for the inner Firth of Thames. Staff do not consider it prudent to establish fish farming within Area C of the Wilson Bay Marine Farming Zone without further detailed assessment.

As the CMFZ lies outside the Firth of Thames, in the deeper and more open waters of the inner Hauraki Gulf, it is considered to be less vulnerable to nutrient enrichment. Even so, as a precautionary measure, the nitrogen and feed discharge limits will apply and modelling of nutrient dispersal will be required as part of the consent application.


In response to earlier proposals to farm fish, such as kingfish and hapuku, central government amended the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan to provide opportunities for the commercialisation of research carried out by NIWA at their hatchery at Bream Bay. They created the 300 hectare Coromandel Marine Farming Zone as well allocated 90 hectares within the existing Wilson Bay Marine Farming Zone.

Unfortunately economic conditions prevented the uptake of that opportunity and the space has remained unused since late 2011. Due to recent interest in fish farming, staff are now recommending that the Coromandel Marine Farming Zone be released for use.




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