Setting up a marine farm
Find out how to set up a new marine farm for aquaculture.
About marine farms
This page covers commercial aquaculture below the mean high-water mark ("marine farms"). This includes farming of:
Setting up a farm above the mean high-water mark ("land-based farms") follows a different process
Find out which species can be farmed
As long as a species is not restricted (for example, if it's a pest), you can farm it in a marine farm. This is different to land-based farms. Land-based farms have a list of approved species that you can farm.
The top 3 marine species farmed in New Zealand are:
- green-lipped mussels (Greenshell™ mussels)
- Pacific oysters
- king (or Chinook) salmon.
Research and trialling is being done for other species, including:
- sea cucumbers
- rock lobsters
Undaria pinnatifida seaweed can also be farmed in some areas.
Undaria seaweed farming
You can farm Undaria with approval from Fisheries New Zealand. You can only farm it in certain areas that already have heavy growth of it.
Read about rules for farming Undaria [PDF, 521 KB]
Requirements for starting a marine farm
To set up a new marine farm, you need:
- resource consent (also known as a "coastal permit") from the local council or authority
- our assessment of the potential effect of the farm on fishing (known as an "undue adverse effects test")
- to be a registered farmer.
Follow the steps to get approval for a marine farm
Step 1: Get resource consent
Before you set up a marine farm, you must get a resource consent. This comes from the relevant regional council. A resource consent gives approval to:
- use natural resources, or
- do activities that affect the environment.
You'll need to provide an assessment of the environmental effects of the marine farm. Provide this with your application for a resource consent.
Contact your regional council (or unitary authority) to find out:
- what consultation and information is needed
- what application forms you need to complete
- application fees.
The relevant council assesses your application. They'll either grant or refuse a resource consent.
Before you can use a resource consent, we must complete an undue adverse effects test.
Step 2: Get undue adverse effects test results
After granting a resource consent, the relevant regional council or unitary authority will ask MPI to complete an undue adverse effects test (UAE test). The UAE test involves MPI assessing the effects of the proposed marine farm on:
- recreational fishing
- customary fishing
- commercial fishing.
The outcome of a UAE test is called an "aquaculture decision".
Three possible outcomes
There are 3 possible outcomes for your UAE test results.
|Outcome||If this happens...|
1. Farm would have no undue adverse effects on fishing.
You can set up the farm.
2. Farm would have undue adverse effects on commercial fishing for Quota Management System (QMS) species.
You can only set up the farm if an agreement is reached with affected fish quota owners.
3. Farm would have undue adverse effects on:
The farm can't proceed.
Fees and charges for a UAE test
The standard fee for an aquaculture decision is $2008.20 (incl. GST). But this depends on the time involved in processing the test. MPI will send you an invoice after the aquaculture decision is made.
Step 3: Register on the Fish Farm Register
To set up a marine farm you must be registered on the Fish Farm Register. FishServe manages the register on behalf of MPI.
To register, download and complete the application form.
With your application form, you must also provide:
- a copy of the resource consent
- if the consent is not in your name, proof that you have permission from the consent holder.
Mail the completed documents to FishServe:
PO Box 297
Marine farm guide
We have a guide to help you set up and run a marine farm. It has information on:
- applying for a new marine farm
- the government's iwi settlement obligations
- setting up marine farm structures
- food safety regulations for aquaculture products
- external sources of water pollution
- levies and additional fees
Guide to establishing and operating a marine farm [PDF, 982 KB]
Application for a fish-farm licence [PDF, 180 KB]
Fact sheet: Administration of aquaculture decisions [PDF, 997 KB]
Fact sheet: Aquaculture agreements [PDF, 463 KB]
Fact sheet: Arbitration [PDF, 869 KB]
Aquaculture biosecurity handbook for farmers [PDF, 7.2 MB]
Rules on marine farming Undaria in New Zealand [PDF, 521 KB]
Fact sheet: The undue adverse effects test on fishing [PDF, 518 KB]
Guidance for councils on marine aquaculture management
Aquaculture planning and consenting [PDF, 1 MB]
Managing demand in the coastal marine area [PDF, 1.1 MB]
Aquaculture regulation-making power [PDF, 766 KB]
Re-consenting aquaculture [PDF, 846 KB]
Mechanisms for managing allocation of coastal space [PDF, 1.7 MB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about setting up a marine farm, email email@example.com