The Minister for Primary Industries has exercised his powers pursuant to sections 360A-C of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to propose a change to the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan (the Plan) to specifically zone six alternative locations in the coastal marine area of the Marlborough Sounds to enable relocation of some existing salmon farms as a restricted discretionary activity (“The Proposal”).
Currently, there are twelve consented sites for finfish farming in the Marlborough Sounds. The six proposed new sites are to be in substitution for six of the existing consented sites which are currently in locations which give rise to significant suboptimal environmental outcomes.
The Panel’s role was to review the expert research reports, analyse the technical information, consider the comments received in writing and orally at public hearings and then, to advise the Minister as to our views on the proposal with any recommendations for change that the Panel considers should be made.
The Panel has recommended that the Proposal proceed in respect of three of the six sites, namely Tio Point, Horseshoe Bay and Richmond Bay South. If only three new farms are to proceed as part of the Proposal, then it is appropriate that consents for three currently operational farms be surrendered, namely Waihinau, Otanerau and Ruakaka Bay. The grounds for recommending the Blowhole Point and Waitata MidChannel sites not proceed are site specific, with there being no single disqualifying feature at Waitata Mid-Channel. Rather the Panel’s conclusion on that site was a combination of navigation, cultural, natural character and landscape effects.