Aquaculture agreements & arbitration

If a marine farm will have an adverse effect on commercial fishing (for quota stock), the farm can still go ahead if the farmer makes an aquaculture agreement with affected commercial fishers (quota owners). Find out about the 2 types of aquaculture agreement, how to register an agreement, and using arbitration.

Negotiated aquaculture agreements

If an aquaculture decision finds that a marine farm will have an undue adverse effect on commercial fishing (for quota stock), the farm can still go ahead by making a negotiated aquaculture agreement. An agreement will involve the applicant giving compensation to commercial fishers (fish quota owners).

Negotiated aquaculture agreements must be registered within 6 months of the aquaculture decision, unless MPI gives an extension. The 6 months is paused during any judicial reviews of the aquaculture decision.

Pre-request aquaculture agreements

Marine farmers can make pre-request aquaculture agreements with quota owners before MPI makes an aquaculture decision. A pre-request aquaculture agreement must be lodged:

  • after the applicant has applied for a resource consent
  • before the consent authority (council) requests an aquaculture decision from MPI.

If a pre-request agreement is made, the quota stock involved won't be assessed in the undue adverse effects (UAE) test.

Terms of agreement

Pre-request aquaculture agreements and negotiated aquaculture agreements can include any terms or payments agreed between the marine farmer and the quota owners in exchange for consent to develop the marine farm.

Minimum agreement of quota shares

For pre-request and negotiated aquaculture agreements, the marine farmer needs agreement for at least 75% of the quota shares for a stock. They can then apply to the High Court for consent on the remaining quota to reach the required 100%.

Any quota owners who don't consent to an agreement are entitled to the same benefits that consenting people agreed to with the farmer. This can be ordered by the High Court. Consent can't be withdrawn after an aquaculture agreement is registered.

Arbitration for compensation

If an agreement can't be reached, or the applicant doesn't want to negotiate an agreement, they can use an arbitrator to decide the amount of compensation the marine farmer must pay to quota owners. An arbitrator can only determine compensation if they first decide that the marine farm would provide more value to New Zealand than the affected commercial fishing.

The Fisheries (Aquaculture Compensation Methodology) Regulations 2012 provide the methods that arbitrators must use when they decide on compensation.

Compensation declarations

Once compensation has been paid, the applicant must register a compensation declaration (stating that quota owners have been paid) before they can proceed with the marine farm.

Compensation declarations must be lodged within 6 months of the aquaculture decision, unless MPI gives an extension. The 6 months is paused during judicial reviews, applications to the High Court, and the arbitration process.

Expiry of agreements and declarations

Negotiated aquaculture agreements and compensation declarations expire when the relevant resource consent expires, unless it is replaced by a new permit.

A pre-request aquaculture agreement expires when the relevant resource consent expires, unless it is replaced by a new permit, or if the application for the resource consent is declined or withdrawn.

Register an agreement or declaration

FishServe receives aquaculture agreement applications and compensation declarations on behalf of MPI.

Register an aquaculture agreement with FishServe using the Application to register a pre-request aquaculture agreement or Application to register an aquaculture agreement form.

Register a compensation declaration with FishServe using the form Application to register an aquaculture compensation declaration.

Fees and charges apply for registering an aquaculture agreement or compensation declaration.

Send aquaculture agreement applications and compensation declarations to:

PO Box 297
New Zealand.

Resources available

This table contains information to support arbitration or when negotiating aquaculture agreements.

Information Description Source Limitations
Quota trade price Value of expected future returns on that quota by selling annual catch entitlement (ACE) or selling fish caught.

Price for quota will be set by the market.

FRED – an online tool from FishServe that uses the annual catch entitlement and quota share registers.
Subscribe to FRED – FishServe website
When quota and ACE are traded, quota owners are required to report the volume traded, but don't have to report prices. There is no auditing of prices that are provided.

FRED provides quota and ACE trade price data that has outlier trades removed.

ACE trade price Fishers purchase ACE from quota owners. The price paid reflects expected value of the current year's fishing.
Export price Total value of fish sales by licensed fish receivers, fish processors and marine farmers.

Reflects revenue from selling fish, rather than the long-term return from owning quota.

Export information reports – Seafood NZ website

Customised reports can also be requested, at cost from Seafood New Zealand.

Export prices set by the international market for fish and don't reflect the price
paid at the wharf.
Port price Price paid to fishers by licensed fish receivers.

Reflects revenue fishers earn from landing fish, not necessarily the long term return from owning quota.

Calculated from MPI annual surveys of licensed fish receivers.

Not currently published but can be made available under the Official Information Act 1982. Survey replies may be skewed because participants know they are used to set cost recovery levies.

Port price doesn't differentiate:

  • methods of harvest (for example, line caught versus net caught)
  • grades of fish
  • targeted fish and by-catch
  • different business structures (for example, port prices change if the receiver is catching fish themselves).
Conversion factors Used to determine the green weight of fish if the fish is partly or fully processed at sea before being landed. Used for reporting purposes. Find conversion factors Some vessels have vessel-specific conversion factors authorised that are different from official conversion factors.

Not all species or products have an official conversion factor.

Contact FishServe to:

  • get a list of quota owners for aquaculture agreements or arbitration
  • request access to the registers for aquaculture agreements and compensation declarations.

Arbitration services

There are several services in New Zealand that can provide further information and help with arbitration.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about agreements and arbitration, contact MPI's Nelson office:


Last reviewed: | Has this been useful? Give us your feedback