New Zealand to extend current marine farm licenses up to 20 years

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones said the Coalition Government wants to deliver the country's aquaculture industry the confidence and security it needs to grow.
Salmon fish farm, South Island, New Zealand, summertime.

Salmon farm in New Zealand's South Island. The Government wants to extend the licenses of farms that are already operating.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

As June began, New Zealand's Government presented a bill to extend current marine farm licenses up to 20 years. According to the release by the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry, it will remove a significant burden on the aquaculture industry and provide certainty for the future of marine farms.

The reforms, which will apply only to existing licenses, are expected to be approved in July. The extensions do not go beyond 2050 and the bill includes the ability for councils to review the conditions of extended marine farm licenses. Public consultation will be held as part of the select committee stage this month as well.

Confidence to invest in improvements

"The current resource consent process is complicated, costly and time-consuming," said New Zealand's Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones commenting on the bill after it passed its first reading in Parliament on June 1st.

"Removing this unnecessary red tape through the Resource Management (Extended Duration of Coastal Permits for Marine Farms) Amendment Bill will give marine farmers greater confidence to invest in improvements, new technology, species and practices to make them more productive and sustainable," he continued. 

According to data provided by the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry of New Zealand, there are around 1,200 marine farms in the country that require one or more resource consents under the Resource Management Act 1991 to operate. Of these, around 200 would need to renew them by the end of 2024.

To renew licenses when they expire, these farms face costs of at least NZD 20,000 (EUR 11,318 / USD 12,241) to NZD 100,000 (EUR 56,576 / USD 61,207). In addition, the renovation process takes an average of six months.

Aquaculture, incredibly important for New Zealand

In April, New Zealand’s Coalition Government announced fisheries and aquaculture will now have to deal with less bureaucracy. "The primary industries, including fisheries and aquaculture, are a ticket to greater prosperity but need our support to thrive as they should," Minister Jones stated then.

Among the initiatives launched following its arrival in office, we learned of research into the breeding of snapper suitable for commercial fish farming, consultation on proposals to help solve the kina barrens problem, or the backing of a mussel spat project to increase survival rates of New Zealand mussels.

Now, in announcing this new bill to extend marine farm licenses, he spoke in the same vein. "Aquaculture is incredibly important for New Zealand," he said. "It provides jobs in the regions and contributes to our export-led recovery. One of my priorities is to remove barriers to the growth of aquaculture."

The head of Oceans and Fisheries said aquaculture generated NZD 575 million (EUR 324.93 million / USD 351.32 million) in export revenue and employed 3,225 people in New Zealand in 2023.

"The money the aquaculture industry spends on reconsenting, estimated to be NZD 6 million (EUR 3.39 million / USD 3.67 million) for 2024 alone, will be much better spent on employing more Kiwis, developing new technology and investing in the future of the industry," he concluded.

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