Environment Waikato’s policy and strategy committee has formally supported the idea of fish farming in the Firth of Thames but has made suggestions about how it is introduced.
A bill before parliament makes allowance for up to 4000 tonnes of fish farming in the current Wilsons Bay marine farming zone, which is home to extensive mussel farms.
At the same time, the Ministry of Fisheries has been hearing submissions on a proposed new 300 hectare aquaculture zone, primarily for fish farming, to the north of the Wilsons Bay zone. Between 4000 and 8000 tonnes of fish such as kingfish or hapuku could be farmed in this new zone.
EW’s policy and strategy committee has agreed with a staff submission on the bill, which supports the introduction of fish farming as long as suitable environmental safeguards are in place.
However, the committee emphasized that it would prefer fish farming to be introduced in the new zone, as it provides better environmental conditions for fish farming in particular. The new northern zone is in deeper water and out of the environmentally sensitive Firth of Thames.
Committee chair Paula Southgate said: ““We will work closely with central Government and local industry to ensure that we can establish fish farming in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.”