MARLBOROUGH DISTRICT COUNCIL
Aquaculture plan variation
Comprehensive new aquaculture objectives, policies and rules to manage marine farming in the Marlborough Sounds.
Marlborough District Council needed a variation to the proposed Marlborough Environment Plan to address aquaculture in the Sounds, and we were excited to help them out. Policy development is our jam, and we love finding new ways to do it. The aquaculture variation was a huge job, but with our help the council was able to notify it on 21 December 2020.
Marlborough has more mussel and finfish farms than anywhere else in the country, and managing those activities is important. What we know about the marine environment and the impact of marine farms has changed over time – it is now clear that some marine farms are not in ideal places. The council and communities wanted a good way to manage existing farms, and to move some of them.
An innovative new section for the plan
We crafted solid objectives, policies and rules to manage marine farms, came up with a new spatial layout, and developed an innovative space allocation system specifically for Marlborough’s needs. The new aquaculture section means marine farmers now have some certainty that they’ll get a replacement consent. It also means that future replacement consents can re-align the farms to better locations, so the values people hold for the Sounds (like landscape and recreation) are preserved.
We’re really proud of the space allocation system. After analysing lots of other allocation regimes, we decided to get creative and repurpose an old ‘authorisation’ tool in a new way. Allocating space for marine farms in the future will be done with an ‘authorisation’ process (a tool normally used to tender for/create new marine farm space) which the council will now apply to grandparenting existing farms. It’s a novel use of an existing, complex tool, and it works well.
The public have made submissions on the variation, and we’ll help Marlborough District Council analyse those submissions and take part in the hearing in 2021.