Environment Waikato has granted resource consent to allow the expansion of a mussel farm in Kennedy Bay on the Coromandel.
The Kennedy Bay Mussel Company Ltd had applied to double its existing mussel seed farming operation from 12.6 hectares to a total of 25.2 hectares, with up to 130 long-lines. The application attracted 53 submissions, including submissions from the Department of Conservation, other marine farmers, Royal Forest and Bird, iwi groups and Kennedy Bay residents.
A consultant ecologist for the applicant said the expanded farm would have a negligible effect on plankton levels beyond the farm’s boundary. A mussel industry representative described the importance of the Kennedy Bay operation for providing mussel seed to other marine farms.
One Kennedy Bay resident was concerned for the effects of the current farm on kai moana, and that a private company sought to dominate a bay that was a resource for all tangata whenua. There was also concern about the lack of consultation with iwi.
Other residents were concerned about the effect of an expanded farm on nutrient availability for other shellfish populations in the bay.
DoC and Forest and Bird were concerned that information provided by the applicant was insufficient to allow a thorough assessment of the ability of the bay to support an expanded farm without affecting natural ecosystems. The Auckland Yacht and Boating Association was opposed because an expanded marine farm would reduce the area of safe anchorage in the bay.
In making its decision, the Hearing Committee said the farm was an important local industry that supplied mussel seed to the New Zealand mussel farming industry.
The Committee also noted that had the application been for a new site, considerably more information would have been required to demonstrate that environmental effects would be no more than minor.
The Committee noted that there was generally acceptance from parties that an expanded marine farm would not have significant implications for the natural character of the bay.
The environmental monitoring provisions imposed were a requirement for any marine farming operation and consistent with recent coastal permits for mussel farms in the region, it said.
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