Undue adverse effects test for marine farms

If you're setting up a marine farm, find out about the undue adverse effects test, and what you need to do.

About the undue adverse effects test

We assess the effects of proposed marine farms on fishing. We do this through the undue adverse effects test.

Before setting up a marine farm, you must apply for a resource consent from the relevant regional council. A resource consent is also known as a "coastal permit".

Find out how to apply to set up a marine farm

If the council grants resource consent, it will ask the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for an undue adverse effects test (UAE test). The UAE test assesses the potential effects of your marine farm on:

  • recreational fishing
  • customary fishing
  • commercial fishing.

You normally cannot start a marine farm if it will have undue adverse effects on any of these. The only exception is if you make an aquaculture agreement with the affected quota holders.

UAE test results

The outcome of the UAE test is called an "aquaculture decision". This determines whether your marine farm's resource consent is confirmed. If it's confirmed, you can set up the farm.

Fees and charges

There are fees for all aquaculture decisions.

Fees and charges for an aquaculture decision

What the UAE test covers

When assessing effects under the UAE test, we consider:

  • the location of the proposed farm in relation to fishing areas
  • the likely effect of the proposed marine farm on fishing
  • how much of a fishery would be affected
  • how much the proposed farm would exclude fishing
  • whether a species that the farm could affect could be fished in other areas
  • how much the proposed marine farm would increase the cost of fishing
  • the total effect on fishing of the proposed aquaculture.

What the UAE test doesn't cover

The UAE test is limited to looking at the effects of the farm on fishing. This means we can't consider things like:

  • navigation issues that could affect fishing vessels and non-fishing vessels
  • effects on the enjoyment of fishing
  • whether a marine farm would affect views while fishing.

Effects that are not covered under are considered under a resource consent.

If you want to make a submission about these effects

Send it to the council that's considering the resource consent. You can find council contact details on the Local Councils NZ website.

Council profiles by type – Local Councils NZ

The result of the UAE test (the aquaculture decision)

The result of the UAE test is called the "aquaculture decision".

Three possible outcomes


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:

  • commercial fishing (for non-QMS species)
  • recreational fishing
  • customary fishing.

The farm can't proceed.

Find out more

Fact sheet: Aquaculture agreements [PDF, 463 KB]

Fact sheet: Arbitration (Aquaculture) [PDF, 725 KB]

Current aquaculture applications

You can view a list of applications that we're assessing. This includes the status of aquaculture decisions and application details.

List of current aquaculture applications [XLSX, 17 KB]

Notification of aquaculture decisions

Aquaculture decisions are notified:

  • in the New Zealand Gazette
  • to the requesting council
  • to the resource consent holder
  • to people who gave information or were consulted for the UAE test.

Aquaculture decision reports

We publish aquaculture decision reports.

List of recent aquaculture decisions [XLSX, 41 KB]

Subscribe to alerts for applications and decisions

You can subscribe to get email alerts when we add:

  • new resource consent applications
  • recent aquaculture decisions.

Email UAE@mpi.govt.nz

If you want to be notified about progress on a specific resource consent:

When to expect an aquaculture decision

We must make an aquaculture decision within 20 working days of the request from a council. This excludes time needed:

  • to consult on an application, or to seek more information
  • to notify an aquaculture decision
  • for judicial review proceedings
  • to make a decision on a prior request for an aquaculture decision that:
    • affects the same fish stocks, or
    • affects the same fishery.

We make aquaculture decisions in the order that we receive them.

Note: If we get 2 requests from the same authority, then the authority specifies the order of processing.

Making a decision out of order

We can only do this if it will not adversely affect another requested decision.

Decisions can be judicially reviewed

An aquaculture decision can be judicially reviewed by the High Court. You must lodge a judicial review within 30 working days following notification. The decision won't be complete until:

  • after the judicial review timeframe, or
  • completion of a judicial review.

Contact the High Court to find out about applying.

High Court – Ministry of Justice

Conditions of the resource consent

An aquaculture decision can be tied to conditions of the resource consent.

Councils normally cannot change a condition of a resource consent if it's tied to an aquaculture decision. They can only do this if another aquaculture decision shows the change wouldn't have an undue adverse effect.

Public may be asked for information

We may ask affected members of the public for information for a UAE test. If we do, they can give information on fishing activity in the proposed marine farm area. Information should be relevant to the 6 points covered by the UAE test.

All information provided may be released, if requested, under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). If you don't want your information released, provide clear reasons with your information. We will consider your reasons when we assess release of information. However, any decision Fisheries New Zealand makes to withhold information can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may require the information be released.

Resources for applicants and fishers

There's information to help you if you want to provide information for a UAE test.

Stock assessment plenary reports – Fisheries Infosite

Document library – Fisheries Infosite

Fisheries Act 1996 – NZ Legislation

Maps and mapping tools

We have maps of commercial fishing activity.

Maps of NZ fisheries

NABIS is an online mapping tool. You can use it to work out if a planned site is suitable for a marine farm.

National Aquatic Biodiversity Information System (NABIS)

Using NABIS layers for marine farm assessment [PDF, 563 KB]

Find out more

You can request registered aquaculture agreements from FishServe.

Contact Us – FishServe

Who to contact

If you have questions about the undue adverse effects test or aquaculture decisions:

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