Research Projects

One Ocean NZ


Promoting the stewardship of a healthy and productive ocean

One Ocean NZ aims to contribute to a wider discussion on how we might best manage our oceans, and exercise stewardship in order to maintain a healthy and productive ocean. We will continue to look at public policy solutions around ocean governance, as it is an important long-term issue for Aotearoa New Zealand.

The combination of climate change and global tensions is putting pressure on companies to move from a global efficiency business model to a national self-sufficient business model. For the salmon industry, for instance, that is likely to mean land-based farms located close to water, either using saltwater or freshwater. Open ocean farming is very expensive and risky. Risks include impacts of rogue waves and storms on infrastructure, impacts on wildlife (such as entangled marine mammals) and the potential negative impact of ocean farming on a company’s social licence to operate.

Currently, the Institute has a particular focus on conservation efforts in the Cook Strait and Marlborough Sounds regions, due to an ongoing case study of New Zealand King Salmon’s (NZKS) Blue Endeavour application. As a part of this case study, the Institute has developed a series of infographics designed to be read in conjunction with one another, highlighting key information about NZKS’s salmon farming, the biodiversity and existing conservation efforts in the area, as well as around Aotearoa New Zealand generally.

For more information on the current and past legal decisions, previous research by the Institute on aquaculture and copies of active NZKS resource consents, see our page Salmon farming.

Latest publication

Submission – MPI: Notes in response to the Proposal by Government to extend the duration of existing consents for marine farming

March 2024
Visit Submissions

As part of recent developments in New Zealand’s aquaculture policy, the Government has put forward a proposal to extend the duration of all existing marine farming consents by 25 years (in addition to their existing consent durations). In practice, this means a marine farming consent that is due to expire in 2040, will be able to continue to operate until 2065. The proposal is intended to provide certainty of tenure for all consent holders and to avoid a “bottleneck” from extending all consents to a specific date. The Institute’s above submission opposes the proposal. The submission raises concerns such as: the fact that the proposal treats all marine farms as equal, with the same degree of environmental impact; and MPI’s limitation on the critical role of public engagement. Refer to the submission for further detail, including a copy of the one-pager provided by MPI as part of the proposal (found in Appendix 1).

Recommendations in Discussion Paper 2023/04 – Exploring the role of aqauculture in our marine space (as at 31 December 2023)

Marlborough District Council (MDC)

1. Revive Variation 1A (or something similar) that specifies that Queen Charlotte Sound and areas in Pelorus Sound are inappropriate for existing aquaculture activities. This would mean MDC could decline an application by NZKS or put in place more stringent conditions (in line with more recent decisions). We understand that this would also enable MDC to invite public consultation on each application.

2. Given recommendation 1 is progressed, require all grandfathered marine farms that are active solely due to s10 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (ARA) to undertake public consultation when reapplying for coastal permits. Notably, the more recent resource consents are over 100 pages whereas the older expiring consents are between 13 and 51 pages, indicating the older consents (including considerations and conditions) are very basic. It seems timely to let all the old consents expire and start afresh, applying conditions based on recent evidence. See Table 4.1. It is important that sites can revert to a clean and natural environment, with remediation where necessary.

3. Review existing, aged controls on farms to reassess their fitness for purpose based on more modern understandings of the marine environment, as older farms tend to have lower compliance. Build compliance capability and train marine compliance officers specialised in marine management.

4. Lead a citizen-scientist reporting mechanism with DOC and NGOs, where the community shares sightings of nationally critical, nationally endangered and nationally vulnerable seabirds, marine mammals and sharks.

Ministry for Primary Industries

5. Help develop a salmon feed industry in New Zealand (so that feed is no longer imported; the quantity required has a significant carbon cost in transportation).

6. Invest in and support land-based farming in preference to ocean farming where possible. In all cases, independently assess environmental risks, costs and benefits.

Minister for Oceans and Fisheries

7. Introduce a Marlborough Sounds Marine Protection Bill (along the lines of the proposed Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill. The Hauraki Bill will increase the total area under protection in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park from just over 6% to about 18% and creates 12 new high protection areas to protect and restore marine ecosystems (restricting commercial or recreational fishing but allowing for customary practices of tangata whenua).

8. Change NESMA so that all grandfathered marine farms throughout New Zealand that are active solely due to s10 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (ARA) have to be reapplied for and are subject to public consultation. There has already been a honeymoon period of 20 years without a full review or public consultation, and NESMA has the ability to extend this another 20 years without public consultation on an activity that pays no public rent for use of water space but creates pollution, both physical and visual.

9. Make Queen Charlotte Sound a marine mammal sanctuary (Type 3 of the Marine Protection Area network) in 2024 (when NZKS farm consents expire, see Infographic 4). Internal waterways are important due to their role in breeding and feeding fish, marine mammals and seabirds – they are the kindergarten of the sea. There is at least one pod of Hector’s dolphins that live in Queen Charlotte Sound, and provided commercial and recreational set net fishing is prohibited, marine mammals gain some form of protection.

10. Replace the inter-agency Oceans Secretariat with an Oceans Commission. The National Party, as part of its oceans policy, recognised the need for an Oceans Commission to advise the Government on strategies for sustainable ocean management and to foster relationships between the Crown, iwi and other stakeholders. Since the Oceans Secretariat was established in 2021, very little information has been made public regarding its key initiatives.

Furthermore, although an Oceans and Marine Ministers Group (OMMG) was established in 2021 to strengthen coordination across relevant Ministerial portfolios and agencies for delivery of the oceans and fisheries work programme, the results to date remain unclear. We consider the underlying problem is a strong institutional evidence-based framework operating in the public domain. Without such a framework, the industry will fail to obtain a durable social licence to operate. Regular reporting on the ocean environment should be easily accessible by location and open to public participation.

11. Develop a coastal occupancy charge or resource rent tax regime (as in Norway) for all marine farmers. See Infographic 7.

12. Review the success of the 2008 Marine Protected Areas: Classification, Protection Standard and Implementation Guidelines. How could they be improved? See Infographic 3.

13. Revisit the Marine Reserves Bill. Progress has stalled. See Infographic 7.

14. Develop a strategy for meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity requirements – protection of 30% of internal waters and 30% of our territorial sea by 2030 (less than seven years away). See Infographic 2.

Department of Conservation/Ministry for the Environment

15. Research into marine baseline data of flora and fauna is beyond the current funding model of councils (e.g. MDC and Cook Strait). This could be funded from a national coastal charge or resource rent tax regime, providing funds either directly for councils or to DOC/ MfE to undertake research, see 7 above). Species need to be understood in terms of their temperature limits, and how the loss of some species might impact the wider ecosystem. Megafauna and seabirds are critically important, particularly given our global responsibility as one of the seabird and marine mammal capitals of the world. Cook Strait is much more special and unique than the Institute originally thought.

16. Require MDC to send compliance reports on ocean and internal salmon farming to DOC as well as MPI.

17. Revisit the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1998 between DOC and NZKS. DOC and NZKS signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 1998 regarding the Ruakaka farm, as part of negotiations to resolve references (appeals) on the proposed Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan. We understand this was to ensure that NZKS would not continue to farm in that location past the expiry date.21 The only other Memorandum of Understanding to have been entered into between DOC and NZKS was signed in 2010 and concerned support for DOC on environmental enhancement projects in the Marlborough Sounds.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) 

18. Provide public access to a detailed map that clearly delineates internal waters from territorial waters, identifying both boundaries and spatial areas. See Infographic 2.

Over time, the combination of climate change and global tensions will put pressure on companies to move from a global efficiency business model to a national self-sufficient business model. For the salmon industry, that is likely to mean land-based farms located close to water, either using saltwater or freshwater. Concerns over the global impact on oceans from aquaculture are of growing interest. See for example the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) invitation to comment, due 29 March 2024.

Assorted publications

See a selection of our latest research and publications related to OneOceanNZ below.

Discussion Paper 2023/04 – Exploring the role of aquaculture in our marine space

This discussion paper aims to conceptualise the scale and significance of aquaculture management from a range of different perspectives such as science, climate risks and biodiversity. This paper focuses specifically on New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) and the Cook Strait region as a case study.

Discussion Paper 2022/02 – New Zealand King Salmon Case Study: A financial reporting perspective

Working Paper 2021/15 – Looking for a taxonomy for Aotearoa New Zealand’s oceans

Working Paper 2021/14 – The role of ocean water temperature in climate change policy – A New Zealand King Salmon case study