NEW ZEALAND - Initial phases of a joint aquaculture zoning project for the Southland region have just been completed. The project, involving Environment Southland and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is aimed at providing strategic direction for future aquaculture development.
Phase one and two of the project has centred on identifying potential areas where aquaculture may be possible in Southland, and also collating environmental information on those areas to determine whether there would be any constraints on aquaculture in those areas.
Environment Southland strategy and corporate planning manager Ken Swinney says a need was identified for a more strategic approach to aquaculture in Southland, to ensure aquaculture development in the region does not continue ad hoc.
“The project provides overall strategic planning guidance for aquaculture development in Southland. It has also identified areas where aquaculture may be constrained by the environment or by other unique features or habitat such as dolphins or whales,” Mr Swinney says.
The Regional Coastal Plan for Southland currently prohibits aquaculture in certain areas. The plan did not take into account any future development for aquaculture in the region, rather leaving this to industry and government to determine.
Locations identified in the initial phases of the project have also undergone a ranking assessment. Potential locations have been assessed and given scores for suitability. Ranking highly are George Sound, Dagg Sound and Chalky Inlet, but the likelihood of marine farming proceeding in these locations is remote.
Ministry for Primary Industries aquaculture director Kathy Mansell says MPI is pleased to have been able to support the Council in this work. “Aquaculture growth in the right locations is an opportunity to contribute positively to the Southland economy and prosperity. MPI looks forward to working with Council and others parties on the next steps of this project.”
The projects next steps will be to work with marine farmers, iwi, MPI, Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Marine Guardians representatives to identify areas for further investigation.
TheFishSite News Desk