8 Apr 2013

Marlborough mussel farm approved

9:44 pm on 8 April 2013

Plans for a new mussel farm off the Marlborough coast have finally been approved after first being submitted 12 years ago.

The proposal by Nelson-based Wakatu Incorporation was challenged in 2003 by the Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay which was concerned at the impact on marine and bird life in the D'Urville Island area.

The Environment Court said on Monday a compromise has been reached that will see the area of the mussel farm reduced, from 760 hectares to 450 hectares.

The court has issued a 15-year consent order, outlining environmental research that the company will have to undertake before farming begins and throughout its development.

Wakatu Incorporation's chief executive Keith Palmer says the business has agreed to undertake the environmental research.

"As we build farm, we just slowly stage it up bit by bit, testing the results all the time. So if there was suddenly an adverse effect on either the bird life or the fish life, that would limit what we were doing."

Green Party MP Steffan Browning was a member of the environmental group and involved in recent negotiations and believes the new research will be very important.

"Public good or pure science-type research in the marine area of the Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay isn't really happening.

"It's generally science that's just associated with how production might be maximised, so anything that's happening from an independent point of view will be science that wouldn't have happened otherwise."