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Fish farm permit approved

A coastal permit application to develop a kingfish farm in the Hauraki Gulf has been approved by the Waikato District Council. 

The application, lodged by Pare Hauraki Kaimoana in 2020, was for a caged kingfish farm to be located within the 300 hectare Coromandel Marine Farming Zone (CMFZ) offshore from Coromandel Town. Pare Hauraki Kaimoana, a subsidiary of the Hauraki Māori Trust Board, already holds the rights to use the CMFZ under the Māori commercial aquaculture claims settlement act 2004. 

A hearing was held in April to hear submissions both in favour of and opposing the development. Concerns included a perceived lack of environmental mitigation planning and animal welfare issues, while supporters said the proposed farm would provide economic and employment benefits to the region and to local iwi. 

The hearing committee made its final decision in July, granting the application. 

The committee noted in its decision that the proposed farm would have a “moderate adverse impact” on the water quality and benthic [sea floor] ecology, but said it was confident that it would have minimal adverse effects elsewhere in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Firth of Thames. It said the aim of the CMFZ was to enable development of the aquaculture industry in the Waikato, and stated that any impacts should be “managed at an acceptable level by adopting a precautionary approach through adaptive management conditions including having an effective monitoring plan”. 

Along with the coastal permit application, the company also sought a rule change to the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan, to allow it to place anchor lines and structures outside the boundaries of the CMFZ. This change was approved by the council in its August 31 meeting, with councillors noting it would allow the farm to use the space more effectively. It was also noted that the change was only approved for the specified area of Pare Hauraki Kaimoana’s application, and only for as long as the company retained the right to operate in the CMFZ. 

Further concerns about the extended anchor lines causing safety issues were dismissed, with the council saying this would be addressed directly by the resource consent. 

The Hauraki Māori Trust Board was contacted for comment, but did not respond before deadline. 

See here for more details about the proposed kingfish farm: 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air