Aquaculture management

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals and can be marine or land-based. Find out how we manage aquaculture development in New Zealand.

Planning and approval of aquaculture

The New Zealand Government supports well-planned and sustainable aquaculture growth. It's committed to helping industry achieve its goal of $1 billion in annual sales by 2025. But it's essential aquaculture growth:

  • takes place within acceptable environmental limits
  • respects other uses and values of our waterways and marine environment.

To make sure this happens, the planning and approval process for a new marine or land-based farm looks at its potential environmental, social, economic and cultural effects.

Marine aquaculture development is primarily managed by regional councils under regional coastal plans.

Land-based aquaculture (for example, in tanks) is managed by:

  • regional councils under regional plans
  • district councils under district plans
  • Fisheries New Zealand through fish farm licences and authorisations to move stock on and off farms.

The plans help councils identify areas where applications for aquaculture development are appropriate, and how to assess applications.

Resource consent needed 

You'll need resource consent for any new aquaculture development – this gives approval for an activity that uses a natural resource or affects the environment.

Before you can get consent, the relevant council assesses the effects of the aquaculture development through a process known as 'consenting'.

Find out about getting approval to set up a:

Guidance for councils

To get approval to set up a marine farm, applicants must have a coastal permit (a type of resource consent) from their council.

Fisheries New Zealand has guidance notes available to help councils:

  • assess applications for resource consent for marine aquaculture
  • understand their options and requirements when managing aquaculture, including how to assess the effects of aquaculture on fisheries resources.

MPI's role guiding sustainable aquaculture

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI):

  • guides sustaiable aquaculture development through an aquaculture strategy and action plan
  • assesses new marine farms for their effect on recreational, customary and commercial fishing
  • prevents unwanted pests and diseases in aquatic environments
  • manages land-based aquaculture (including movements of aquatic organisms on and off farms)

We also:

  • advise the New Zealand Government on aquaculture issues
  • develop and manage aquaculture legislation, regulation and policy
  • implement the Māori aquaculture settlement
  • provide information and support for food safety issues.

Find out more

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