Sanford is looking to test the waters with open sea salmon fishing for the first time.
The company has lodged a consent with Environment Southland to create five small open ocean farms – 28km from Bluff near Ruapuke, at the South end of Foveaux Strait.
This was a brand new area for Sanford, after carrying out extensive background science work.
The company was currently in the consulting stage, and would be talking with locals and iwi to let them know what they were requesting permission to do.
Manager of Aquaculture Ted Culley said the new proposal would eventually increase King salmon production in Southland from 3800 tonnes to 25,000 tonnes annually.
In its application, the company outlined why five discrete farming areas (in relative proximity to each other), rather than one larger farm at a single location was done for operational reasons, largely related to fish health – following consultation with leading international salmon farming experts.
Ted said they were looking at about a five-year process with the new consent because the Resource Management Plan (RMA) was more geared towards land use than water.
The consent was currently on hold while community consultation took place, and until the company could get a ‘Section 88’ sign off – relating to the assessment of environmental effects.
Ted said there had been “normal” concerns through the consultation process already, including the proximity of the farm to Ruapuke Island.
Aquaculture consultant Mark O’Connor said open ocean aquaculture is still a significant prospect for Southland as a region, and the people need to get behind it.
“We’re very supportive of the Sanford application,” he said.