Aquaculture Zoning Plan

Aquaculture Zoning in the Southland Region Project

Background 

The operative Regional Coastal Plan for Southland prohibits aquaculture in certain areas of Southland.  Other parts of the region can be considered through the resource consent process on a “first come first served” basis.  This framework for aquaculture was developed in the mid 1990s and was a robust approach at that time. However, it does not take into account a strategic planning approach for aquaculture in the Southland region; such as assessing what aquaculture could be possible where, rather it leaves this to be determined on an ad-hoc basis through the resource consent process. 

[photo: Salmon farm at harvest time, with a mussel farm in the background, in Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island.
Photo taken by Miles Hewton and provided by Sanford Limited Bluff
]

The Project

To ensure aquaculture development in the region does not continue in an ad-hoc practice, a strategic planning approach is needed for the Southland region. The project provides overall strategic planning guidance for aquaculture in the Southland region by identifying areas where aquaculture may be constrained by the environment and other unique features or habitats (whales or dolphins).

A Ministry for Primary Industries ‘Aquaculture Planning Fund’ contract has provided 50% of the costs for the first two phases of the project that relate to identifying potential locations for aquaculture development. It is important to note the results of Phases 1 and 2 do not conclusively determine the suitability of aquaculture in any location within the Southland region but identify locations that may be worth investigating in further detail.

In addition to Phases 1 and 2, Phase 3A was also completed. It related to the assessment of information from Phase 2 to strategically identify potential aquaculture locations that may be worth investigating in further detail. 

This approach minimises the amount of money that needs to be spent on assessing the environmental issues of aquaculture to only the potential locations, instead of the whole Southland region.  It also means the high level strategic direction was completed prior to getting into the potential site perspective details.

Intended Outcomes 

The project will facilitate the sustainable growth and diversification of aquaculture in the Southland region within a framework focused on minimising environmental risk.  The main benefit of this project is that it will provide clear guidance on aquaculture development to the community.  Being able to show what aquaculture could be possible where will assist members of the community to better understand why a potential location has been identified.  This type of information may help resolve conflicts regarding allocation of space, which often contribute significantly to opposition of aquaculture activities taking place in the coastal marine area.  It may also promote effective communication among stakeholders, with all stakeholders utilising the same strategic direction to support their decision-making minimising the risk of conflicting information which often leads to conflict and expensive processes.

In addition to the benefit of increasing public knowledge, the project will also be beneficial for:

  1. updating the Regional Coastal Plan for Southland, where appropriate;
  2. giving guidance for consent processing and aquaculture sector on where aquaculture investment should be progressed to support growth;
  3. giving guidance for aquaculture sector and research providers on what possible new aquaculture species should be progressed to support growth; and
  4. giving guidance for aquaculture sector and research providers on priority research matters, which will also contribute to research and field trials being completed in a timely manner.

Methods 

It is important to note the results of Phases 1, 2 and 3A do not conclusively determine the suitability of aquaculture in any location within the Southland region but identifies locations that may be worth investigating in further detail. The Southland region aquaculture zoning work achieved the following:

PhaseDescription
Phase 1: Satellite view

(Part of MPI contract)

Options paper taking the following aspects into account to identify potential broad scale areas where aquaculture may be possible:

  1. Industry needs and wants;
  2. Cultural perspective;
  3. Regulatory perspective; and
  4. Economic perspective.

Download Phase 1 'Satellite View' - Report of what aquaculture may be possible where

Phase 2: Helicopter view

(Part of MPI contract)

Research paper collating factual information on temperature, salinity, depth, current speed, wave height, exposure to prevailing winds/waves/swell, seabed type, and presence of mataitai/customary area, marine reserve, marine mammal habitat area and significant biodiversity area characteristics for location areas.  Characteristics collated for location areas assessed taking following aspects into account to identify potential location areas where aquaculture may be possible:

  1. Generally no potential constraints have been identified;
  2. A potential minor constraint or constraints has been identified; and
  3. A potential significant constraint or constraints has been identified.

Download Phase 2 'Helicopter View' - Report on what aquaculture may be possible where.

Phase 3: Site perspective

(NOT part of MPI contract)

Site perspective ranking evaluation assessment on the collated information from Phase 2 to strategically identify potential aquaculture locations that may be worth investigating in further detail. 

Download Phase 3A 'Site Perspective Ranking Evaluation' report

Project next steps

Environment Southland will step back from leading this project and will participate in a consultation role. Representatives from industry groups, MPI, DOC, and the Fiordland Marine Guardians will work to identify areas of interest for further investigation, and will collate factual information on environmental effects of aquaculture activity on factors such as seabed, aquatic ecosystem, surrounding natural landscapes etc. within the identified potential site locations.

Involvement

There may be further opportunities for community involvement if the aquaculture industry, iwi and Ministry for Primary Industries confirm there is a location(s) they wish to investigate in further detail.

Further information 

If you have any questions about the project, contact us.

Page reviewed: 03 May 2016 11:09am