The Environmental Management of Aquaculture: Mussel farming

From GEOG397 Topics
Jump to: navigation, search



New Zealand is home to a variety of unique marine ecosystems that encompass a vast diversity of flora and fauna. With coastal areas becoming significantly important in providing benefits to local communities social, economic and cultural wellbeing for its utilisation within recreation, education and amenity values for coastal populations. Thus, the allocation of marine space for marine farming within New Zealand is contentious due to the increasing concerns on their true impact on fish species and their habitats.

The Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Act 2002, defines ‘aquaculture’ as the cultivation of fresh or salt water species located in a coastal marine enclosure site (Aquaculture NZ, 2013) Alternatively, marine farming is seen as a subset of aquaculture which takes place within the coastal marine area that extends from the high-water mark to the outer limit of the territorial sea. The Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Act, section four, defines ‘marine farming’ as the ‘breeding, hatching, cultivating, rearing or ongrowing of fish, aquatic life or seaweed for harvest (Resource Management Aquaculture Moratorium Amendment Act, 2004: s4).

Presently, aquaculture and marine farming encompasses a total water space of 5,800 hectares which represents 0.2% of the New Zealand coastline (Ministry for the Environment (MFE), 2005). With the total space allocated for marine farming being 13,000 hectares yet to be developed, where it is evident that this space will be utilised to meet Aquaculture New Zealand’s goals to becoming a billion dollar industry by 2025 (MFE, 2005). The increasing expansion of the industry of up to 11.7% in 20 years, resulted in the industry being subjected to new legislative changes within Resource Management Act which acknowledged its associated environmental and socio-cultural impacts. Biotoxin scares throughout New Zealand marine farming also lead to increased restrictions and monitoring programmes based on water and food quality. Mussel farming is noted to be the leading field of aquaculture, with other aquaculture projects such as salmon and oyster farming providing significant contributions towards annual export values. With the economic benefits of this resource has generated an estimated 360 million per annum in export value and provided direct employment to over 2,500 people (MFE, 2005).

As with any industry, there is room for improvement, development and expansion resulting in the generation of higher income. The food and agriculture organization present predictions that the demand for seafood consumption will increase by an estimated 35%, resulting in the growth of industry growth to meet this demand (Aquaculture NZ, 2013). This supply demand relationship however places immense pressure on the finite resources that are present and raises the issue of spatial allocation for aquaculture establishments. This spatial allocation issue is one that can lead to lengthy and costly implications with regional and national legislation procedures with efforts being made to address the planning issue with varying degrees of success.

However, despite the benefits it provides to New Zealand’s GDP, the environmental impacts are overlooked and not only limited to New Zealand marine farming. And with future predictions of growth of the industry, there requires a legislative process to enable a balance between exploitation that doesn’t compromise environmental structures and water quality within the coastal environment.

History: New Zealand Coastal Culture and Value.

It has been argued that Maori established marine farming in New Zealand several hundred years ago and legislation formally enabling marine farming has existed since 1866. Aquaculture and more specifically, mussel farming in New Zealand has progressed through several stages since its beginnings in the 1960's with the farming of oysters and mussels being harvested by small owner operated farms across New Zealand. During the 1970's to 1980's the industry began to increase in such a manner that the small scale farms were transformed into domestic operations, and as time progressed, there was a decline in the numbers of small owner operated farms. The early 1980's saw the increase in aquaculture market demand and as export opportunities became more available, so too did the domination of the industry by commercial companies (Horton & Memon, 1997). Due to this demand, it was brought to the attention of the officials that there is a significant need for the protection of the aquaculture and ecosystems of New Zealand if sustainability for future generations was to be achieved.

Marine Farming in New Zealand

There are 3 major aquaculture species in new zealand, each providing significant domestic and export value to the industry (Aquaculture NZ, 2013).Three Main Aquaculture Types in New Zealand.png

Fig.1 The Three Main Aquaculture types in New Zealand.


Prior to 1991, consents were granted through the Marine Farming Act 1971. Once the introduction of the RMA became evident, only those farms that has existing licenses and leases were able to exist without new consents being granted under the RMA 1991 (Banta & Gibbs, 2009). A duel consent process was then later introduced, resulting in a coastal permit as well as a fisheries permit to be obtained from the district and regional councils under the specifications of the RMA and the New Zealand Regional Coastal Policy Statements (Banta & Gibbs, 2009).

Prior to the 2004 legislative changes aquaculture projects, such as mussel farms, had to gain a consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 in order to occupy marine space for construction of structures required for marine farming (Banta & Gibbs, 2009). As well as the consent, the people of concern in the aquaculture business were to ensure that there would be no adverse and negative effects under the Fisheries Act 1996 and , concerning the impacts on commercial, customary or recreational fisheries

With the introduction of the RMA1991, sustainability became a focus within aquaculture production that acknowledged its associated environmental, social and cultural impacts. Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Act 2004 aimed to streamline the consent process by introducing and implementing Aquaculture management areas (AMA's). The AMA's are designed to be a defined area that is allocated for aquaculture requirements in regional coastal environment plans. By implementing this, any adverse and negative effects concerning fisheries would be assessed before the AMA's were defined in the coastal plans, resulting in the removal of the fisheries section in the consent process. Due to this action, the mussel farmers were able to only have to gain a consent concerning the RMA to begin farming, along as their farming methods and specified outputs were within the AMA's.

However, this reform method in 2004 proved to be unsuccessful in the aim to streamline the consent process. The creation of AMA's proved to have significant negative impacts on marine farm applicants as it provided difficulties for both the councils and the aquaculture industry in respect to expenses and complexity of the initial process (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, 2011). The intention of the legislation changes made in 2004 were to assist regional councils with the demand for increase in space availability for aquaculture, as well as considering the industries growth and development (Banta & Gibbs, 2009).

Environmental Impacts & Pressures of Mussel Farming

Adverse effects of mussel farming

The main contributor to understanding the cumulative effects that the establishment of a marine farm has on the environment are the leading companies involved within the industry. Therefore they attempt to identify the far field effects of wild catch fisheries given the rapid future predictions of the industries growth (Broekhuizen et al. 2002).

Presently, research suggests that the biggest impact that mono-culture mussel farms have are on the local ecosystems and the species within them. With an increased prediction of marine farming area to be developed, this may result in greater local change in ecosystems. A lack of an ecosystem equilibrium may result in some species populations flourishing, resulting in an instability in populations of other competing species (Whitehead et al. 2000).

Land Degradation

It has been recorded overseas that rapid expansion of aquaculture can lead to large-scale environmental degradation. Population declines in seabird and other marine mammals reflecting this change, where some have been either eradicated and controlled by humans as they prey on farmed species (Gibbs & Kemper 2001).

Protection of farmed areas that have surrounding nets, such as fish farming, have increased fish species mortality as a result of species entangled within nets. This encourages species to migrate away from its original habitat; having adverse negative effects on the local ecosystem of an area (Brian 2005).

Wild fisheries decline coupled with an increased demand for fish has resulted in the aquaculture industry expected to rapidly grow. However, increased demand increases the potential adverse effects that marine farms have on the local ecological system.

Sea Floor

Mussel farms affect the seabed below the farm in numerous ways, such as the deposition of mussel meat, broken shells and other debris that originates from a farm or a harvesting boat. This added debris from the farm along with a reduced flow due to farm lines and floats leads to increased sedimentation beneath the farm (Craig et at. 2005)

Along with natural debris there has been findings of marine litter originating from the farms distributed along the sea floor. Litter that is often not recycled or put into rubbish skips has fallen into the sea and sunk to the bottom or has drifted to nearby shorelines (Cole, 2001). Often, the storage and recycling of rope and floats along the shoreline and on nearby wharfs is common. However, during storm surges these deposits of rope and floats for storage are often submerged and float off to sea or moved onto the seabed. A study undertaken by Stenton-Dozey (1999) found that litter can still be present up to 3 years after the removal of a mussel farm. This creates adverse effects on marine species where these deposits of litter are often ingested by marine animals within the local ecosystem.

Marine Implications

Fig. 2 Displays the coverage that the mussel lines have of the water column, showing the potential for slowing of currents that travel through the farms.

Increased demand and pressure for mussels has resulted in growth, not only by increased number of farms, but increased numbers of floats, lines and coverage within the mussel farm (Figure 2). It is understood that increasing the number of floats and lines slows water hydrodynamics inside and between marine lines and farms (Cole, 2001). Research has indicated that current speeds can be reduced by 30% inside a farm where nutrients can often remain stagnant (Cole, 2001). Similarly wave action is also reduced, where studies undertaken by Craig et al (2005) found that altering wave hydrodynamics alters the intertidal ecology. Further stating that it will present a shift in dominant species type and their characteristics. Craig also raises the issue that changing hydrodynamics is apart of the complex process on nutrient depletion and carrying capacity of an area. This is due the change in time that a body of water travels through a mussel farm, this stratified water-allowing extractions of more nutrients than what might occur naturally. Therefore, on a basis of this theory an increased number of mussel farms may contribute to the lack of nutrients passing through that farm and altering the overall quality of the product. Moreover, marine farmers within the inner Marlborough Sounds have noted that the poor quality of the mussels and lack of developmental growth may be a result of the increased number of farms within the area where nutrient levels and currents are of a minimum.

Figure 2. Shows the large coverage that mussel farms have over the water column. Covering 30 plus meters in depth set out in large rows. This extensive coverage causing currents to reduce by 30% also reducing wave action (Cole, 2001).

Ecological Pressures

Species Assemblages

Mussel farming in New Zealand predominately uses Green-lipped mussel, Perna canalicula, which encompasses a large majority of the allocated aquaculture area due to its large economical value. Green-lipped mussels diet consists of plankton, bacteria and the remains of dead animals and plants that are present within the water column. Mussel's intake water and nutrients through their siphon, and after the nutrients are removed, the water passes out of the mussel through an outgoing siphon (Ingles et al. 2000).

The implications of extensive mussel farming, although still poorly understood, has lead to the beliefs of a decline in plankton communities. Depending on the size and coverage of a given farm, plankton populations can be reduced by up to 60% (Waite, 1989). This is due the extensive cover of the water column that a mussel farm occupies. The decreased flow of the currents of water passing through a mussel farm also allows for extensive amounts of plankton to be removed (Cole, 2001).

Even though there may be a decrease in numbers of plankton within a mussel farm, seabed debris that had fallen from a mussel farm may enable the growth of other organisms and ecosystem communities. Seabed debris such as fallen rope lines and mussel shells have promoted the introduction of new species such as; bivalves, sponges and seaweeds (Ingles et al. 2000). This also encourages the growth in population numbers of other sea creatures such as; starfish, sea urchins and other such organisms along with fish population numbers and species within the area of a farm.

Negative population trends and increases in exotic species, found by Cole (2001), are a result of the high density of farming mono-culturally of a single species which increases other unwanted organisms. This includes exotic pest species, harmful algal blooms, pathogens and parasites that might have been introduced when mussel farm equipment is transferred to a new location (Ingles et al. 2000). It has been recorded that in the past mussel farms have increased the spread of algal blooms to new and different locations. This adds further implications on the current ecological state of an area through the changing of dominant species as a result of these algal blooms spreading diseases and biotoxins that can be transferred.


Native Mammals

From the negative influence that mussel farms have on the local ecosystem and hydrodynamics, it is evident that these affects may extend to both common and endangered mammal species. Brian (2003) has identified three ocean mammals under threat by mussel farms including; the Hector’s dolphin, Southern right whale, Bryde’s whale.

Presently, the Hectors dolphin is listed as an endangered species where it is estimated population is thought to consist of 7270 dolphins due to their slow breeding nature (Slooten et al, 2002). Their habitat exists within 7km of the shoreline, being a common location for the development of mussel farms. Increased numbers of mussel farming within sheltered areas acts as direct competition against dolphin species which raises concerns on dolphins mortality rates due to present deaths a result of their entanglement in fishing nets (Slooten, 2000). Dolphins predominately feed on seabed organisms such as crabs and fish where changes in the water column that are commonly associated with extensive mussel farms, inhibit a potential affect on their food abundance (Slooten, 2000). It has also been noted that high densities of mussel lines and floats interfere with the dolphin’s sonar signals affecting the dolphins hunting strategies. This also increases the competition for common habitat where mussel farms restrict dolphin movement for nursing, resulting in habitat fragmentation and hindering the potential for population growth (Slooten, 2000).

The Southern Right Whale and Bryde’s whale, both classified as endangered and threatened, have both been negatively affected as a result of increased competition for marine space following the introduction of mussel farms.

Figure 3: Migration Routes of Brydes Whale (Brian, 2001)

The Southern Right whale, commonly distributed from between 30º to 60ºS (Figure. 3), migrate between warm breeding areas along the coast located in lower latitudes during winter, to northern waters during summer for feeding (Brian, 2003). Following the colonisation of New Zealand numbers of Southern Right whale populations declined from an estimated 10,000 to 1,140 (Richards, 2002). Presently, these species live close to shore where they utilise the sheltered shallow water for calving, being perfect environmental conditions for the establishment of a marine farm. Brian (2003) has indicated that the proposed mussel farms in the Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty are directly in the way of whale migration routes, with the potential threat entanglement in marine lines. Where a loss of a female through entanglement would severely impact the reproduction and population numbers.

Bryde’s whales are found in more tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world (Rice, 1998). In New Zealand, the Bryde’s whale are commonly found within the Hauraki Gulf, Bay of plenty and Northland (Baker, 1983). The Huaraki Gulf is a feeding ground for these whale species due to seasonal schools of fish that enter the waters. With the increased numbers of fish in the surrounding areas of mussel farms, their have been increased sightings of the whale around the farms with reports of the whale being found entangled with the lines and floats. Moreover, there is limited solutions to mitigate the problems associated with the increasing numbers of Bryde’s whales being entangled as a repercussion of increased mussel farms within these areas (Brian, 2003).

Figure 3. Illustrates the migration routes of the Bryde's whale. This shows how the whale migration routes are very close to the coast, and also travel through popular areas for mussel farming such as Northland, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay and the Marlborough Sounds. It also indicates where the Southern Right Whale are commonly seen, along with Hector Dolphins common sightings. These areas are also close to the coast at which mussel farms are commonly placed similar to the Bryde's whate migration routes. It should also be noted that Hector Dolphin calving areas are in similar locations (Brian, 2001).

Bird Life

There are no reports of bird life being entangled in fixed lines in mussel farm areas, but some birds in the Marlborough sounds have been found caught in the rope ties due to nesting on mussel farms (Butler 2003). However, trends suggest that marine litter may result in the entanglement and ingestion of this litter by marine birds (Taylor 2000). Ingestion of plastics is common resulting in death via dehydration, blocked guts or toxins released in the intestines (Auman et al. 1998). This being an issue as the increased number of marine farms will increase marine litter if not properly disposed, leaving problems for local bird life, and marine life in which birds feed on.

Maori Customary Rights

Maori and Recent Legislative Reforms

The Treaty of Waitangi, within the English text, guaranteed the customary rights of iwi/hapu to their lands, estates, forests and fisheries which established a relationship whereby the crown would give effect to those rights (Treaty of Waitangi, 1975). Resource Management Act conditions on the generation of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) also include the impact of Maori Indigenous heritage when filing for the creation of a marine farm. The Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 gave legislative recognition that provided for customary food gathering by Maori and special relationship between Tangata Whenua and those places which are of customary food gathering importance. With some areas of New Zealand remain held by iwi/hapu under their mana in accordance with these customary rights. One of these areas being the coastal marine area where iwi continue to assert their respective customary rights to this area. These rights being ‘taken into account’ within the Resource Management Act 1991 (Resource Management Act, 1991: s8).

Growth and demand for water space for marine farming purposes has been an issue of concern to Maori who’s concerns have been expressed and recognised by the Waitangi Tribunal and the Court of Appeal under the recent Aquaculture Reform Bill. The claimants alleged that they had been prejudicially affected by the proposals of the crown to reform the laws regulating aquaculture and in particular marine farming in New Zealand. Where they allege that the bill fails to produce provisions that provide for Maori interests specifically in marine farming under the Treaty of Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi, 1975). Evidently, the Tribunal found that the proposed reforms breach the principals of the Treaty of Waitangi (Waitangi Tribunal Report, 2002).

As a response Maori received 20% of all marine farming space allocated by the Ministry of Fisheries since 1992 under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 (Anderton, 2008)(MCASA, 2004). With this deal representing an extension of the 1992 Maori Fisheries Sealord deal under the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Settlement) Act 1992, where Maori gained 20% of all fishing quota caught within the New Zealand EEZ (Anderton, 2008; Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Claims Settlement Act, 1992). With both deals being a result of Maori pressure on Government following the June 2003 Court of Appeal decision to allow Maori to argue their foreshore and seabed claims before the Maori Land Court. Presently, a resolution over ‘pre-commencement’ 1992 - 2004 aquaculture interest in the South Island and Coromandel has been made between Iwi and the crown. Where Maori received a one-off cash payment and increased influence at various levels within the industry.

Furthermore, NIWA operate a Maori research and development facility, Te Kūwaha o Taihoro Nukurangi, which has a unit of Maori scientists who research and provide services based around iwi fishing practices and provides research towards environmental impacts and evidence for Environmental Impact Assessments. Therefore it is likely that there will be a significant presence of Maori within the NZ Aquaculture industry and likely to increase over time as the requirements to allocate aquaculture space through the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 are met.

Environmental Management

Case Studies

The Bay of Plenty - Whakatohea Offshore Farm Proposal

The company 'Eastern Sea Farms Limited' made an application to the council for water space for 3800 hectare mussel farming off the coast of Opotiki (Opotiki district council, 2010). The regional council granted the resource consent for the farm to proceed, however it is noted that sections of the consent still remain under appeal. Eastern Sea Farms also made an appeal to the Ministry of Fisheries for the required permits allowing them to begin the process of establishing the mussel farm (Whakatohea Maori Trust Board. (2010).

The location of the proposed mussel farm is three nautical miles offshore from Opotiki. This site has been researched and surveyed, indicating suitable current and water depth specifications. The location of the mussel farm is aimed to limit the aesthetic and impacting factors that the marine farm would have on the area. Examples of these limiting factors are that the proposed farm being located away from local fishing spots and being out of shipping routes (Whakatohea Maori Trust Board. (2010).

The specifications of the proposed farms production potential is an estimated 20,000 tones of mussels produced per year by 2025 (Whakatohea Maori Trust Board, 2010). This prediction coincides with the aims of the overall aquaculture industry to produce an output estimate of 1 million dollars as an industry. In order to maintain the minimal impacts on the environment, monitoring of the farm will be implemented at different stages. It has been stated that the chlorophyll and phytoplankton levels surrounding the farm will be monitored in order to observe the effects of the farms establishment and its adverse effects on the surrounding environment (Opotiki district council, 2010).

Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds is the most highly developed area for Aquaculture and marine farming in New Zealand. Higher demand for space have resulted in a different approach to legislative action and coastal planning mechanisms to cope to this demand. Due to this demand the Marlborough district council (MDC) required to develop a coastal plan that encompassed and mitigated against the increased number of marine farming applications (Banta & Gibbs, 2009). A successful procedure for handling the increasing number of applications was created. Until July 2002 the MDC under went a moratorium which provided the council to 'hold' areas where the council was able to identify and allocate where marine farms are to be prohibited or permitted, as well as establishing further plans for better management of the projected increase in growth of the industry (Banta & Gibbs, 2009). This system being established was required to be fast paced due to the nature of the increasing applications. Throughout the moratorium, the MDC proposed a Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan which enabled consent orders to be processed efficiently.

For example, from the year 1999 to 2002, after the 3 year moratorium, 74% of the applications were granted with 15% refused on the basis of unsound ecological issues without proper mitigation strategies highlighted within their AEE’s; inconsistent with the purpose of the RMA. Furthermore, some marine farmers believe that the lack of nutrients and decreasing quality of product within the inner sounds is a result of the increased numbers of marine farms, however, these are mere claims without proper scientific research to back their claims. Despite the efficient management system put in place by the MDC, increased conflicts are ongoing in relation to the allocation of water space for marine farming. Presently, there is a requirement for a balance between acknowledging socio-cultural needs of the community while maximizing economic efficiency whilst promoting environmental sustainability.

Methods for Managing the Allocation of Marine Space

The 2011 Aquaculture Reforms resulted in the government providing councils with the tools to manage the demand to occupy space in the common marine and coastal area. The allocation of space mechanisms are required to manage actual or anticipate competing demand for space where councils must ensure the principles of fairness, transparency and timeliness are enforced. Figure 4 represents an area of space within the Whangaroa Harbour and the Cavalli Islands at which are located on the East Coast of the far North in the North Island. This map was released in 2013 by the far north regional council to illustrate areas that are prohibited for aquaculture, coving Taupo Bay and parts of the inner harbor that hold strong values to the local Maori.

Figure 4: Whangaroa Harbour and the Cavalli Islands Aquaculture Prohibited Areas

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, a resource consent is required for any new marine farm. Applications for resource consent for marine farms can be made in all regions, being subject to the provisions of the relevant regional coastal plan. Underlying the sustainable management outcomes promoted by the Resource Management Act 1991 are planning and consenting processes administered primarily at a regional level. Planning documents establish objectives, policies and rules for undertaking activities within a region, while the consenting process requires a case by case assessment of proposals to undertake these activities. New Zealand’s aquaculture planning processes reflect our growing knowledge of the marine environment and the potential for human effects on it. The planning and approval process for marine aquaculture in New Zealand considers the farm’s potential environmental effects, as well as its possible cultural and social effects.

A strategic approach to spatial planning is a necessary first step before using an allocation mechanism. Spatial planning could include constraint mapping, comprehensive and up-to-date scientific information, stakeholder perspectives and user requirements, clear information on why an area has been chosen and the specified activities for which the occupation has been and/or will be managed.

A number of methods are available to councils under the RMA to manage demand for space in the coastal marine area (CMA). ‘First in, first served’ is the default process for allocating space in the CMA and under the law apply to allocations of space for aquaculture activities. Any departure from first in, first served requires specific provision in a regional coastal plan or the approval of an allocation method by the Minister of Conservation at the request of a regional council. Public tendering is the default alternative allocation method, unless a regional council or unitary authority requests another method for managing demand.

However, these allocation mechanisms (or variations of them) are currently used overseas, for example, in Australia councils are encouraged to access expert advice (such as planning and legal advice) and to weigh up the costs and benefits themselves before looking to utilise these alternative allocation mechanisms. As allocation mechanisms other than first in, first served have not yet been used in New Zealand, there is limited current public understanding of these tools. Councils need to ensure the rationale for the use of alternative allocation tools is clearly explained and communicated as part of the allocation design process (Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), 2013)

Note: Most of these mechanisms, except 'First in First Served' require spatial planning to be undertaken to set environmental limits. Many of the mechanisms that require allocation through use of money often may result in deterring speculative applicants. Within the 'tendering' mechanisms tender revenue split evenly between Crown and council where tender money reimbursed if coastal permit application is unsuccessful (RMA, 1991: s. 165Z).

First in, First Served Mechanism

This allocation mechanism is the default mechanism under the RMA. First in, first served means that the applicant who first lodges a complete resource consent application is presumptively entitled to the first hearing before a consent authority.

Benefits/Advantages - Well understood system which has established case law that supports its use. The functionality works well when there is little competing demand between stakeholders or applicants.

Risks/Disadvantages - In a situation of high or competing demand this mechanism may result in being unable to achieve the most efficient or effective use of the coastal space and cumulative effects may be difficult to manage. Furthermore, where resources are scare and high competition may arise their can be legal argument about who is first in the queue to be processed. Other risks include the first application, rather than the more appropriate application, may gain the allocated coastal space and in circumstances of high demand and resource constraints, the result for subsequent applications is likely to be affected by earlier decisions in adjacent or nearby areas (MPI, 2013)

Tendering Mechanism - Financial Only

Tendering is a price-based allocation mechanism where the tender may be awarded to one of the bidders, but not necessarily the highest bidder. In addition to first in, first served, tendering continues to be the other default method as a result of the RMA Amendment Act (No 2) 2011 with these tending provisions and requirements set out in Part 7A of the RMA (MPI, 2013; RMA, 1991). However, despite this system being one of the most efficient, it is an area of emerging practice in New Zealand and has yet to be tested.

Benefits/Advantages - This mechanism could promote more efficient use of space and resources and management of the coastal environment including the cumulative effects as a result of its reasonably administratively simple procedure. Furthermore, it is also easy to assess applications due to the price-based criteria. This would generate revenue to assist with the promotion of sustainable management in the region’s coastal marine area and strengthen the purpose of the RMA (MPI, 2013)

Risks/Disadvantages - However, it requires people to pay for the right to apply for a consent which may never be granted. Where it also requires spatial planning and/or setting of environmental limits before allocation occurs so council has space to allocate.

Tendering Mechanism - Weighted Attributes

A version of tendering that considers a range of weighted criteria to evaluate the tender. These criteria, or attributes, can be broader than purely financial considerations and may include wider regional benefits, sustainable management and social and cultural considerations that are consistent with the RMA. The criteria and weights are included in the tender documentation to allow tenderers to design bids suited to the specified attribute criteria. For Example, this has been utilised by The Waikato Regional Coastal Plan has been changed as part of the 2011 Aquaculture Reform where the plan now provides for weighted attribute tendering in the newly created 300-ha Coromandel Marine Farming Zone (CMFZ) (MPI, 2013). Therefore, to apply for a resource consent within the CMFZ it will be allocated in two ways, as settlement assets (20%) and by weighted attributes tender (80%). The weighted attributes are listed as including, but not limited to:

• The extent to which the tender proposal achieves the purpose of the CMFZ;

• Contribution to economic and social well being of the region and New Zealand;

• Promotion of sustainable management of natural resources;

• Environmental management practices of applicant; and

• Monetary contribution.

Benefits/Advantages - This mechanism could promote more efficient use of space and resources and management of the coastal environment, including cumulative effects. This would generate revenue to assist with the promotion of sustainable management in the region’s coastal marine area. Furthermore, the “weighted attributes” component allows consideration of wider values, for example, Māori participation, regional economic priorities and allows councils to tailor to local and regional needs.

Risks/Disadvantages - Thought would be required when applied to the design and development of the weighted attributes to ensure they are transparent. Furthermore, choosing appropriate attributes may be difficult without spatial planning and comprehensive AEE, where these attributes are often subjective where they can be challenged for readily.

Auction Mechanism

This is a price-based allocation mechanism where an auction sets up a process of exchange based on competing bids, with the winning bid going to the highest bidder. There are many ways to construct an auction, including low price to high price (standard auction), high price to low price (dutch auction) or open or sealed bids. Auctions often set a reserve which is the minimum price the seller expects the good or service to be sold for; councils will need to consider if this is appropriate in the aquaculture context.

Benefits/Advantages - Simple and well understood process whereby within an open auction, applicants are able to see who else is interested in bidding for the space and its perceived value. Furthermore, applicants interested in pay the most for the space are likely to use it most efficiently (MPI, 2013)

Risks/Disadvantages - However, despite the benefits the cost of auction may deter speculative applicants. If standard auction is used and authorizations are awarded to the highest price bidder, this may preclude consideration of broader values and local community needs.

Balloting Mechanism

Balloting is a chance-based allocation mechanism requiring spatial planning to be undertaken to set environmental limits.

Benefits/Advantages - If used on its own it is an impartial and arbitrary mechanism that has a simple process. However if used after proposed applications meet well defined pre-requisite criteria a ballot could assist councils to make a final decision with two very similar applications

Risks/Disadvantages - Generally an arbitrary mechanism where on its own it relies on change and therefore is not expected to promote efficient economic use where the most efficient applicant is not necessarily rewarded with the allowance of space.

Undue Adverse Effect Test (UAET)

For Aquaculture decisions the Ministry of Primary Industries will assess whether a proposed activity, such as the establishment of a mussel farm, will have undue advers effects on recreational, customary or commercial fishing due to the nature of marine farms restricting access and displacing fishing (MPI, 2013). A proposed marine farm cannot proceed if it would have ‘undue’ adverse effects on recreational or customary fishing, or commercial fishing for non-quota management system (QMS) stocks. Therefore, it looks at the;

• The location of the proposed marine farm in relation to fishing areas.

• The likely effect of the proposed marine farm on fishing, including the proportion of any fishery that would be affected.

• The degree that the proposed marine farm would exclude fishing.

• The extent that fishing for a species in the proposed marine farm area could occur in other areas.

• The extent that occupation of the coastal marine area by the proposed marine farm would increase the cost of fishing.

• The cumulative effect on fishing of any authorised aquaculture, including any structures authorised before the introduction of any relevant stock to the quota management system.

Assessment of Environmental Affects

An assessment of environmental effects (AEE) describes all the environmental effects of a proposed activity, and the ways that any negative effects are to be mitigated and reduced. There is no requirement of public consultation for an AEE, whereas Environmental Impact Assessments involve public consultations. Therefore, this may a negative of AEE's in enabling the inclusion of effects to local communities. In accordance to the aims in the RMA, every resource consent application must include an AEE. The amount of information you need to include in the AEE will depend on how significant the environmental effects of your activity will be. Sometimes the district or regional plan will tell you what and how much detail you need (MFE, 2013). These AEE's generated help to mitigate against the environmental impacts and pressures on ecosystems that a marine farm proposal may inhibit. The combination of an AEE along with a UAET gives a more holistic approach to mussel farming proposals and their associated impacts on people and the environment.

The National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS)

The National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS) was also established and made useful to planners, coastal permit applicants, and other stakeholders in determining what sites may be appropriate for marine farming. For example, the information could help to identify areas where a marine farm would conflict with fishing activity (MPI, 2013; MFE, 2013). NABIS is a GIS system that, with use of the NABIS polygon tool, can be used to show the location of a marine farm relative to:

• Fisheries management areas (for example, statistical areas and Fisheries Management Areas);

• Fisheries restrictions and closures;

• Commercial fishing activity (catch and effort) by statistical area;

• Customary management areas (for example, taiapure, mataitai reserves);

• Iwi boundaries (rohe);

• Existing marine farms; and

• Recreational fishing survey zones and surveyed effort.

Evaluation of Methods

New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement

The Resource Management Act 1991, required the mandatory establishment of a New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) to guide local authorities in their management of the coastal environment, including the preparation of policy statements and regional coastal plans (Young, 2003). In 2003, the NZCPS 1994 was reviews where a number of issues were raised about the effectiveness in dealing with current issues. With one of these issues being the objective goal in expanding the aquaculture industry where it was evident that the NZCPS did not provide councils with sufficient guidance in addressing adverse effects on the estimated economic growth of the industry (Young, 2003). The central concern for councils was that the NZCPS did not provide guidance that would inevitably lead to increased conflict between space allocation applicants. Therefore, as a result of this the Government, under the regulations in the RMA, enacted the mechanisms that can be used for the allocation of space in mussel farming proposals and applications. The above mechanisms allow for public consultation with a greater holistic approach to sustainable management that encompasses and requires for a full Assessment of Environmental Effects, Undue Adverse Effect Test and an impact evaluation of socio-cultural, economic and other relative impacts.

Conclusions & Recommendations

Promoting a Sustainable Aquaculture

Black (2001) believes that their needs to be an increase in international awareness of sustainable aquaculture to sustainable ecosystems. In response, the New Zealand biodiversity strategy was released to fulfill these international aims that are inline with the purpose of the RMA that aim for the sustainability of the local ecosystems. (Anon, 2000). This holds the intention of a sustainable environment to be used for future generations also promoting a high environmental quality and biodiversity (Black, 2001).


It is evident that within New Zealand, both communities and iwi hold strong social, environmental and cultural linkages with the coast. Home to a variety of unique ecosystems with vast flora and fauna, coastal areas are becoming significantly important in providing benefits to these communities. However, with future increased predictions of the Aquaculture Industries expansion, there has been an increase in research undertaken to identify the environmental pressures and impacts that the marine farming industry exhibits onto the coastal area and its mammals. Findings suggest that the physical implications of mussel farm lines and floats impacting on current speeds and nutrient levels as expressed within Figure 3. This, also changing the sea floor morphology and other significant increases and decreases in species as a result of the mono-culture farming. Both physical impacts and ecological impacts closely related highly influencing each other. Concerns have also been expressed on New Zealand's heritage and values of native mammals, such as the Hectors dolphin, Bryde's whale and the southern right whale being negatively affected by marine farms due to their need to be within close proximity of the coast. Along with bird life being affected in some cases as management of marine litter is at a current poor state.

Black (2001) Suggests that there is need for growth in international awareness of promoting a sustainable aquaculture, at which New Zealand’s local government are starting to recognise and act upon. Therefore the marine farming industry requires a greater balance between environmental and socio-cultural impacts versus economic interests, especially given the predicted growth and expansion of the industry. The integration of AEE's and UAET's to mitigate pressures and effect are a requirement under the RMA1991. These promote for a more holistic approach to marine management that encompasses the purpose of the RMA that promotes the sustainable development of an industry. Furthermore, the NZCPS also gives the guidance and tools to local councils to manage the marine environment, with the Marlborough Sounds case study being an example of where there was a allocation mechanism put in place to cope with the demand for space. Where also in 2013 Far North regional council have made changes to local plans for better management of aquaculture within their region.

However, for the mechanisms to be efficient in allocating space, a strategic approach to spatial planning is necessary. Proposals should be based on their benefits towards a more holistic approach to allocating space when using a allocation mechanism. For Example, the tendering mechanism that encompasses 'weighted attributes' is a better mechanism than First in, First served. It include a holistic evaluation and selection on the basis of the environmental evaluation which looks at the pressures or benefits on the environment, socio-cultural structures and the economic potential or detriment. For the industry to be successful in allocating the space effectively, there needs to be a requirement of sound research on the impacts and pressures that marine farms exhibit on the environment and mammals within the marine space. Furthermore, by comparing New Zealand legislation and management systems within the industry to other successful industries around the globe, New Zealand management systems may be able to learn from previous successes and failures.

Therefore, in order to provide an efficient allocation of marine space for industry development there needs to be; balances between the interests of stakeholders, an emphasis placed on the importance of environmental sustainability, and the inclusion of the interests of the local community and iwi throughout the proposal development.


Anderton, J., (2008)., ‘Maori Aquaculture Settlement Signed’ Beehive Media Releases. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Sept 2013]

Anonymous, (2000) "The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.Department of Conservation and Ministry for the Environment", Wellington, New Zealand.

Aquaculture New Zealand (2013) [online] Available at <> [Accessed 26 September 2013]

Auman, H.J. Ludwig, J.P. Giesy, J.P. Colborn, T. (1998) Plastic ingestion by Laysan albatross chicks on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, in 1994 and 1995. Albatross Biology and Conservation. G. Robertson and R. Gales. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton.

Baker, A.N. (1983) Whales and dolphins of New Zealand and Australia: an identification guide. Victoria University Press, Wellington, New Zealand

Banta, W.and Gibbs, M. (2009) Factors controlling the development of the Aquaculture Industry in New Zealand: Legislative Reform and Social Carrying Capacity, Coastal Mangement, 37: 2, 170-196.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council (2011) Environment, Coast, Aquaculture: Aquaculture Reforms [Accessed: 25 September 2013]

Black, K.D. (2001) "Sustainability of Aquaculture". Pp. 199–212 in: Black, K.D. Ed. Environmental impacts of aquaculture. Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Brian, D.L. (2003) Potential effects on mussel farming on New Zealand's marine mammals and seabirds: a discussion paper. Department on Conservation, , Wellington, New Zealand.pp 1- 29.

Broekhuizen, N.; Zeldis, J.; Stephens, S.A.; Oldman, J.W.; Ross, A.H.; Ren, J.; James, M.R. (2002) "Factors related to the sustainability of shellfish aquaculture operations in the Firth of Thames: a preliminary analysis". Unpublished NIWA Client Report EVW02243 for Environment Waikato & Auckland Regional Council.

Butler, D.J. (2003) Possible impacts of marine farming of mussels (Perna canaliculus) on king shags (Leucocarbo carunculatus). DOC Science Internal Series 111. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Cole, R. (2001) Impacts of marine farming on wild fish populations. Unpublished NIWA Client Report for Ministry of Fisheries, Project ENV2000/8 AEWG01/48

Craig, S. David ,P. Stephane, P. David, F. (2005) Mussel Farm Hydrodynamics. National Institute for Water and Atmosphere Research. Great Point, New Zealand, Dept. Civil Engineering University of Canterbury, Ocean Engineering, University of New Hampshire, USA. PP 55 - 60

Grange, K. (2002) The effects of mussel farms on benthic habitats and fisheries resources within and outside marine farms, Pelorus Sound NIWA Client Report: NEL2002–003. National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd, Nelson, New Zealand.

Gibbs, S.E.; Kemper, C.M. (2001) "Tuna feedlots at Port Lincoln, South Australia: dolphin mortalities and recommendations for minimising entanglements" Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 3(3): 283-292.

Horton, S. and Memon, A.(1997) ‘SEA: The uneven development of the environment?’, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 17 (3), 163-175

Inglis, G.J. Hayden, B.J. Ross, A.H. (2000) An overview of factors affecting the carrying capacity of coastal embayments for mussel culture. Unpublished NIWA Client Report (CHC00/69, Project No.: MFE00505) for the Ministry for the Environment.

Marine Farming Association, (2013) "Marine Farming Locations" [online] Available at: <> [Accessed on 1 October 2013]

Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act, 2004. Wellington: New Zealand Government

Ministry for the Environment. (2005). Aquaculture Reform: An Overview [online] Available at: <> [Accessed: 20 September 2013].

Ministry for the Environment. (2013). "An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act Series 2.1: Applying for a Resource Consent" Available at: <> [Accessed: 30 September 2013]

Ministry of Primary Industries, (2013). Aquaculture Legislative Reforms 2011 Technical Guidance Note 5. [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed on 2 October, 2013]

Opotiki district council (2010). Opotiki harbour development. [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Sept 2013]

Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Act, 2004. Wellington: New Zealand Government

Resource Management Act, 1991. Wellington: New Zealand Government

Rice, D.W. (1998) Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy

Richards, R. (2002) Southern right whales: a reassessment of their former distribution and migration routes in New Zealand waters, including the Kermadec grounds. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 32: 355–377.

Slooten, E. Dawson, S.M. Rayment, W. (2002) Quantifying abundance of Hector’s dolphins between Farewell Spit and Milford Sound. DOC Science Internal Series 35. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Slooten, E. DuFresne, S. Clement, D. (2000a) Potential effects of mussel farming on Hector’s dolphin in the Banks Peninsula region. Unpublished Report for Environment Canterbury.University of Otago, Dunedin.

Treaty of Waitangi, 1975. Wellington: New Zealand Government

Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act, 1992. Wellington: New Zealand Government

Waitangi Tribunal Report, (2002)., ‘Ahu Moana: The Aquaculture and Marine Farming Report’ [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Sept 2013]

Whakatohea Maori Trust Board (2010). Aquaculture. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Sept 2013]

Whitehead, H.; Reeves, R.R.; Tyack, P.L. (2000) "Science and the conservation, protection and management of wild cetaceans". Pp. 308–332 in: Mann, J.; Connor, R.C.; Tyack, P.L.; Whitehead, H. (Eds.) Cetacean Societies. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Young, D. (2003) “Monitoring the Effectiveness of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement: Views of Local Government”. Unpublished report prepared for the Reviewer/s of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement. Department of Conservation, Head Office, Wellington, 54: 9.