Case study – Guidance for aquaculture monitoring in the Waikato region

Coromandel Mussel Farm Barge (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

The Waikato Regional Council, with funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries, is developing a regional environmental monitoring framework to integrate consent-related environmental monitoring with State of the Environment (SOE) monitoring. The aim of this initiative is to rationalise and improve all environmental monitoring conducted in the Waikato coastal marine area. But aquaculture has been chosen as a first case study, in anticipation of the development of fish farming and increase in shellfish farming in the region. 1772

The purpose of the framework is to achieve a more consistent and transparent approach to environmental monitoring that better integrates consent-related environmental and SOE monitoring, and accounts for cumulative effects. A regional monitoring framework has the potential to facilitate these types of improvements, and to provide a broader context for understanding the effects of existing and future anthropogenic activities, against the background of natural variability.

The framework is based on the understanding that the environmental effects of consented activities are best managed if environmental monitoring is aligned with broader state of the environment monitoring, and if environmental quality standards are established prior to the commencement of the consented activity, so that consent monitoring can be designed to verify compliance with these standards. 1773

The first phase of this project focused on reviewing current monitoring approaches, reviewing relevant consents, assessing locally relevant ecological effects and their significance, and developing the structure for the monitoring framework. The second phase focused on developing the detailed framework, identifying priority issues that need to be addressed either through industry best practice and reporting or through monitoring, and identifying environmental indicators and indicative standards. All information is currently being collated in a series of three technical reports. These will be distributed to the aquaculture industry for feedback prior to being finalised.

Ultimately this project will produce a guidance document for the aquaculture industry and other stakeholders which provides clear information on environmental monitoring requirements for aquaculture consents in the Waikato region. As a result, the outcome of this project should be practicable and directly applicable to the resource consenting process.

Within an integrated monitoring framework, SOE monitoring and consent-related environmental monitoring are more effective in improving understanding of the state of the environment (including cumulative effects) than disconnected monitoring programmes. This project supports the concept that having well-designed environmental quality standards and monitoring approaches at the time of consent applications is imperative for designing meaningful adaptive management strategies for a marine farm consent. 1774




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