31 Jan 2013

Smaller Far North marine farm approved

10:07 am on 31 January 2013

Independent commissioners have granted permission for a new marine farm in Whangaroa Bay in the Far North but to cover a much smaller area that the applicants wanted.

Westpac Mussels Distributors sought resource consents for a 125 hectare farm off Stephenson Island, mainly to farm mussels but also oysters, scallops and paua.

The commissioners have granted the consents, citing the significant economic benefits it will bring to an "impoverished" part of the country.

However they have limited it to 94 hectares to reduce the environmental and landscape impact.

The commissioners considered about 280 submissions, most opposing the marine farming venture.

The decision is still open to appeal through the Environment Court.

Recreational fishers in Northland say they they will consider an appeal. Whangaroa marina manager Pete Sehmb says they oppose the mussel farm because it will deprive fishers and other recreational users of the sheltered area they depend on.

Mr Sehmb also questions the statement that the marine farm will provide more than 80 full time jobs for locals. He says it's trucking the mussels to Auckland for processing.

Whangaroa's recreational fishing community is also opposing another proposal for a fin fish farm on the harbour.