Undue adverse effects test

Fisheries New Zealand assesses the effects of a proposed marine farm on fishing through the undue adverse effects test. Find out about the test, what it covers, and the decision process.

About the undue adverse effects test

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

If the council grants resource consent, it will ask us for an undue adverse effects test (UAE test). The UAE test will assess the potential effects of your marine farm on recreational, customary, and commercial fishing.

UAE test results

The outcome of the UAE test is called an aquaculture decision. The aquaculture decision determines whether your farm's resource consent is confirmed – allowing the farm to go ahead. Fees and charges apply for all aquaculture decisions.

A proposed marine farm can't be developed if it would have undue adverse effects on recreational, customary, or commercial fishing (unless you make an aquaculture agreement with the quota holders).

Find out more

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, including the proportion of any fishery that would be affected
  • how much the proposed farm would exclude fishing
  • whether an affected species could be fished in other areas
  • how much the proposed marine farm would increase the cost of fishing
  • the cumulative effect on fishing of any authorised aquaculture.

What the UAE test doesn't cover

The UAE test is limited to the practicalities of fishing, so we can't consider things like:

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

Effects outside the scope of the UAE test are considered under a resource consent. If you want to make a submission about these effects, send it to the council that is considering the resource consent.

The aquaculture decision

The result of the UAE test is called an aquaculture decision. Aquaculture decisions can be:

  • a determination (a green light) – if effects on fishing aren't undue
  • a reservation (an amber light) – for undue effects on commercial fishing for quota management system stocks
    • an aquaculture agreement or compensation declaration is needed before the area can be developed
  • a reservation (a red light) – if effects on recreational, customary or commercial fishing (for a non-QMS species) are undue.

Find out more about:

Current aquaculture applications

You can view a list of aquaculture applications that Fisheries New Zealand is currently assessing, including the status of aquaculture decisions and application details.

List of aquaculture applications under consideration [XLSX, 23 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 are published by Fisheries New Zealand.

List of recent aquaculture decisions [XLSX, 41 KB]

Subscribe to alerts

To receive an email alert when new resource consent applications or recent aquaculture decisions are added, email UAE@mpi.govt.nz

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

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.


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

Councils can't change a condition of a resource consent if it is tied to an aquaculture decision, unless another aquaculture decision shows the change wouldn't have an undue adverse effect.

When to expect an aquaculture decision

Fisheries New Zealand must make an aquaculture decision within 20 working days of the request from a council. This timeframe excludes time:

  • to consult on an application or to seek additional 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 fishery.

We make aquaculture decisions in the order received. If 2 or more requests are received from the same authority at the same time, then the authority specifies the order of processing. We can only make an aquaculture decision out of order if it won't adversely affect another requested decision.

Public may be asked for information

If Fisheries New Zealand asks for information for a UAE test, stakeholders can provide 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 assessing 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

A range of information is available to support applicants or fishers wanting to provide information for a UAE test.

Aquaculture decision reports and submissions (in report appendices) are available in the:

Registered aquaculture agreements can be requested from FishServe.

NABIS is an online mapping tool that can be used to assess the suitability of a marine farm site.

Find out more

Who to contact

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

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