Decision Making

Marlborough Salmon Farm (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

Aquaculture reforms, which took place in 2004, placed all aquaculture planning and consent processing under the RMA. Previously marine farmers had to obtain separate consents from the regional council and the former Ministry of Fisheries. The reforms were intended to address the “gold-rush” situation which had developed in some areas, where numerous consent applications for marine farms were lodged, in an attempt to occupy areas of the seabed in a “first-in first-served” system. The reforms placed a moratorium on the processing of such applications, to give councils time to undertake proper planning for the activity, through the creation of aquaculture management areas.

Further aquaculture reforms came into effect on 1 October 2011, designed to free up marine space for farming, as a result of slow progress in creating operative aquaculture management areas. These removed the requirement for such an area to be in place before a resource consent application could be lodged. As a result, the normal RMA decision-making framework now applies to marine farming, subject to the following unique provisions:

  • Permitted activity status not allowed - Regional coastal plans are not able to classify aquaculture activities as permitted activities. 1713  This is because the UAE Test is carried out alongside the consent process
  • 20 year minimum consent term - Coastal permits for aquaculture are required to have a minimum term of 20 years, unless a shorter term is requested by the applicant or a shorter term is required to manage the effects of the activity 1714
  • 3 year lapse period - Generally resource consents must be exercised within five years of being granted otherwise they will lapse. The reforms reduce the lapse period for aquaculture consents to 3 years 1715

The 2011 RMA reforms now give the Minister responsible for aquaculture the power to recommend regulations to amend provisions in a regional coastal plan related to the management of aquaculture activities. 1716  This process allows changes to be made directly to regional coastal plans without following the normal plan making process set out in Schedule 1 of the RMA.

  1. RMA section 68A

  2. RMA section 123A

  3. RMA section 125

  4. RMA sections 360A to 360C

Last updated at 1:31PM on February 25, 2015