Marine farmers meet

More than 300 delegates from across the marine farming industry will gather in Nelson tomorrow and Friday for the New Zealand Aquaculture Conference, the industry's biggest annual event.

With a theme of sustainable growth, the focus would be on unlocking long-term growth while upholding the industry's commitment to environmentally sustainable practices, Aquaculture New Zealand chief executive Gary Hooper said.

"Aquaculture offers tremendous potential for New Zealand to sustainably produce world-class seafood, create regional jobs, and inject much-needed export earnings into local communities and the economy," he said.

Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director-general Scott Gallacher will speak on "towards $1 billion, enabling and partnering the New Zealand aquaculture industry".

There will be a mayoral forum bringing together the Tasman, Marlborough, Opotiki and Coromandel mayors to discuss aquaculture.

Mr Hooper said the conference was "the ultimate networking event", bringing together marine farmers, processors, exporters, council and government officials, and representatives of the marketing, finance, research, transport, legal and education sectors.

This year's conference comes almost immediately after the end of a long Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry hearing in Marlborough to consider Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon's application to add nine salmon farms to the five it has in the Marlborough Sounds.

The application, which the company says it has spent $9 million on, has attracted widespread opposition, taking some of the gloss off salmon farming, the most lucrative marine farming sector by area.

The Government has openly supported Aquaculture NZ's goal of $1b in sales by 2025, which would more than double the current figure. The industry is closely watching the King Salmon application. Fairfax NZ

The Marlborough Express