NRC marine farming plan draws strong opposition

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
12 July 2007, at 1:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Environmentalists want further commercial marine farms barred from Whangarei Harbour and the Bay of Islands, writes Imran Ali.

The call was made in submissions to the Northland Regional Council's proposed new rules on Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs), which could open up any part of the coast to marine farms if stringent conditions are met.

At present, marine farms may be set up in only 18 designated Northland areas.

Peter John Coates, of the Whangarei Heads Citizens Association, opposed any provisions that allowed further commercial marine farming in Whangarei Harbour. The harbour at present has just one oyster farming operation in Parua Bay.

He said the harbour was a nationally recognised wildlife refuge which should be out of bounds to fish farms.

"Fish farming invariably degrades the area through the deposition of waste, abandoned structures and general pollution. This is happening in the Bay of Islands, Kaipara and Parengarenga Harbours."

That must not be repeated in Whangarei Harbour, he said.

While the new plan means would-be marine farmers, not ratepayers, have to meet the cost of applications, opponents say they would be hit by the cost of fighting applications in the Environment Court.

Mr Coates said legal appeals could drag on indefinitely and were a cost the community should not have to bear.

The Bay of Islands Coastal Watchdog group expressed similar sentiments.

"There is a severe lack of quality research and ecological information on the impact of aquaculture on important ecosystems, life support systems and biodiversity," the group said.

Source: The Northern Advocate