Waikato Regional Council expects a new 300-hectare aquaculture zone west of Coromandel to become the first in the North Island to produce fin fish on a commercial scale.
The marine farming zone comes into effect on 1 October, as a result of the recently passed Aquaculture Amendment Act.
The council's coastal planner, Graeme Silver, says it will complement about 1500 hectares already allocated in the Coromandel area to shellfish farming.
He says the commercial farming of fin fish is much more expensive and labour-intensive than shellfish aquaculture in terms of infrastructure, maintenance and, above all, feeding the fish.
For that reason, he says, research has been focused on higher-value species.
Mr Silver says the first fish likely to be commercially farmed in the area are kingfish, following work by NIWA producing fingerlings at its Bream Bay hatchery.
Other work is being done on hapuka, which is likely to be a commercial proposition in a few years' time.
Mr Silver says the 300 hectares at Coromandel could produce as much as 8000 tonnes of fish.