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High Hopes For Shellfish Farm

NEW ZEALAND - The aquaculture sector was yesterday given a green light to develop a 520-hectare shellfish farm in the Coromandel.

The farm is expected to create up to 600 new jobs and inject $80 million in the region by 2015, according to Stuff.

The decision by the Ministry of Fisheries was welcomed by the shellfish industry's national body Aquaculture New Zealand who has been waiting 13 years to develop water spaces in Wilson's Bay on the Firth of Thames.

The move will double the amount of shellfish farming in the region, boosting its mussel production from 25,000 tonnes a year to 50,000 tonnes once the area is fully functional.

Approval was given for 1,783-hectare aquaculture management area, which comprises the shellfish farm and accessways between marine farm blocks.

The next step in the approval process is in the hands of Environment Waikato.

It will consider issuing resource consents to the various operators and 20 per cent will be allocated on behalf of iwi to Te Ohu Kaimoana. The decision is expected to take about five months.

Peter Vitasovich, managing director of Greenshell New Zealand, one of the largest peninsula-based mussel companies and chairman of Aquaculture New Zealand, hoped farming would begin in the area within the next year.

He said: "This is not about allocation of water space, it's about the development of an industry in the Coromandel which will really benefit from employment. The next stage is for the industry and council to work together.

"This is a real long-term benefit from the industry. The aquaculture industry is an industry that is growing while a lot of other industries are falling away," Mr Vitasovich said.

The Thames Coromandel District Council and Environment Waikato pledged their support to help develop the industry by lifting the red tape to enable a meeting with Aquaculture New Zealand in March this year.

the Fish Site Editor

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