Could Aquaculture Be Southland’s Next Growth Opportunity?
Five Southland marine locations identified as having aquaculture potential are undergoing research and evaluation as part of a collaborative regional development project.
The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) programme has promoted undertaking preliminary research at these locations to better understand the potential of the sites.
The locations have been identified following earlier high level work completed during 2013 and 2014.
Stage one will be to carry out the research at the three Stewart Island sites – Paterson Inlet, Port Adventure and Port Pegasus. Planning for survey work in the remaining two sites in Southern Fiordland will follow consultation with interested parties.
The research will be undertaken by Cawthron Institute in August and is a collaborative approach by SoRDS , Ngai Tahu, Department of Conservation (DOC), the Ministry for the Environment (MFE), and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
The scientific information gathered on these locations will be fed into a broader engagement
exercise with community and interest groups. This engagement would focus on the social, cultural and environmental issues relating to the potential aquaculture activity and is expected to commence later this year.
Southland District Council Mayor Gary Tong, who recently returned from an aquaculture fact-finding trip to Norway, said the industry had created thousands of jobs in the Scandinavian country.
Norway is a country focused on economic development that is right for their people and their environment.
An MPI report released in 2015 found aquaculture was already providing significant social and community benefits as well as economic value to Stewart Island and Bluff, he said.
SoRDS new industries team leader Mark O’Connor said realising the potential of sustainable aquaculture had been identified as one of the leading opportunities to shape a future with greater economic diversity and resilience for the region.
“Southland’s natural attributes of cool, clean, deep and sheltered waters give the region a distinct advantage in regards to aquaculture potential.”
Aquaculture had a strong history and reputation in Southland through the well-established but smaller scale industry in Bluff and on Stewart Island, and Iwi had signalled a desire to invest in the sector on a long-term basis, O’Connor said. “The potential for job creation will be grounded on the best environmental, cultural and social practice for the aquaculture industry, which is what the community expects.”
O’Connor said it was paramount the new scientific work was completed to determine if environmentally sustainable aquaculture was viable within these areas and this would then enable more meaningful community engagement to occur.
If community endorsement is secured, the identified viable areas would then be subject to a full environmental, cultural and social impact assessment.
The areas identified are all outside of protected marine reserves.
- A long history of aquaculture research including salmon, oysters, scallops, green-lipped mussels, blue mussels, seaweeds, cockles, kina, paua, sea snails and crayfish.
- Proven engineering and marine construction industries.
- Existing experienced fishing and aquaculture workforce.
- Longest coastline of any region in New Zealand, stretching 3400km.
- Colder sea temperatures, which are ideal for aquaculture.