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Published: 2007-09-13 00:00:00

Aquaculture in the Waikato region has expanded to the stage where it now has annual turnover of around $35 million, says a report to Environment Waikato’s policy and strategy committee.

Marine farming contributed $27 million to regional GDP, employed the equivalent of 270 full-time staff and paid $9.6 million in wages and salaries, the report said. About another 100 full-time jobs were related to the industry.

The report said there were about 40 core business involved in farming and processing, with 21,000 tonnes of mussels being produced annually and 640,000 dozen scallops.

The study was commissioned to establish the economic impact of a Marine Farming Variation by the council.

It said that as a result of the rule changes, marine farming has expanded to nearly 900 hectares today, mostly on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula.

That compares with about 500 hectares before 2000, and the total area can expand up to about 1500 hectares as the Wilson Bay Zone off the Coromandel is fully developed, the report said.

The Wilson Bay Zone – created in 1999 – allocated 1000 hectares to aquaculture. Resource consents for half this space were issued in 2001, and about half of those farms have been developed. The Zone’s second half will be available for consenting within 18 months,

“There is considerable scope for growth in mussel farming under the current policy framework,” the report said.

In addition, Environment Waikato is considering a plan change to allow the diversification of the industry into new types of aquaculture. This will allow the industry to trial higher value species. Consultation on this is currently underway.