The Waikato is on track to establish the North Island’s first offshore fin fish farm which will be for a new commercial species – kingfish.
Waikato Regional Council has granted Pare Hauraki Kaimoana authority to apply for resource consents to occupy 240 hectares of fin fish farming space in the Firth of Thames following a tender process.
The space, known as the Coromandel Marine Farming Zone, is located about 10 kilometres offshore of Coromandel Town.
Pare Hauraki Kaimoana propose farming kingfish in the space and the authorisation means they now have two years to prepare and submit an application for the necessary resource consents.
The council called for tenders in 2017 to assess market interest and applicant suitability to undertake fin fish farming in the zone. The tender proposals were assessed against criteria such as proposed environmental management practices, economic and social benefits to the community, and monetary contribution to the council and central government to occupy and use the water space. Following the tender evaluation and negotiation process, authorisation has been granted to Pare Hauraki Kaimoana.
“Pare Hauraki Kaimoana are already a major player in our regional aquaculture industry and their tender proposal demonstrated a deep commitment to achieving environmental, economic and social outcomes for the region,” said the council’s chief executive, Vaughan Payne.
Dal Minogue, Thames-Coromandel constituency councillor, said: “Existing shellfish aquaculture around the Thames-Coromandel district, and related processing, generates just under $100 million of revenue a year and directly employs more than 550 people, making the Waikato region second only to the Marlborough Sounds in terms of production and employment.
“It’s exciting to think that, over time, successful fish farming in the Coromandel Marine Farming Zone could generate additional revenue of more than $50 million and dozens of full time jobs through expansion and diversification of the regional aquaculture industry,” Cr Minogue said.
Several years ago there was strong interest in farming kingfish and hāpuku in the region. The Coromandel Marine Farming Zone was subsequently established in 2011 by a central government amendment to the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan. But due to the global financial crisis interest in fish farming waned.
Then in mid-2016 there was renewed interest from the aquaculture market in taking up space in the zone, resulting in the call for tenders.
Mr Payne said: “The approval process to issue the authorisation has been lengthy, in part because of the process specified in the Resource Management Act and also complexities in determining a commercial arrangement for a market that doesn’t yet exist in New Zealand.”
As the successful tender, Pare Hauraki Kaimoana has two years to apply to the council for a resource consent to ensure environmental factors are appropriately managed. Any application for a resource consent to farm fish must consider a staged approach to development, accompanied by a site specific assessment of potential environmental effects and a holistic environmental monitoring plan.