Controversial marine farm to go ahead

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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A contentious Stewart Island marine farm has been given the green light.

Stewart Islander Len Lind applied for resource consent to establish three small-scale marine farms to cultivate Bluff oysters under the name Suelen Properties Ltd last year.

The oyster farm appears to have divided the island community.

Yesterday, Lind declined to comment, other than to say he had worked on the farm proposal for more than five years.

When it was notified in November, Environment Southland received 23 submissions on the application.

Of those, eight were in support, 12 opposed, and three commented but did not specify for or against.

People who supported the farm were keen for job opportunities, while those against were concerned about environmental, and recreational effects.

Independent commissioner Barry Kaye granted the consent on the basis its effects would be no more than minor.

Kaye says granting the consent would enable the efficient use and development of the sites while maintaining the quality of the surrounding environment.

Southland District Council Stewart Island councillor Bruce Ford, who submitted in support of the application, said he would not comment on the decision until the two-week objection period had passed.

He did raise the point that the revised Southland aquaculture strategy between Environment Southland and Venture Southland was a directive from central government to turn aquaculture into a billion-dollar industry.

The consent, which has been granted for five years, has a raft of conditions attached to it.

One of these was that the applicant must have pest traps onboard his marine vessel at all times while monitoring the sites to stop rodents from entering protected pest-free areas on the island via moorings.

Lind is also responsible for the maintenance of all marine structures, including lines, buoys and oyster pots for the duration of the consent.

During the application hearing in May, Lind said he hoped the venture could result in vibrant local industry and provide much-needed employment to locals.

DID YOU KNOW ...

The purpose of the marine farm is to experiment whether on-growth of oyster spat is viable. If it proved to be viable, the marine farm will be operated as a small-scale commercial operation.

Consent was granted for three Stewart Island sites:

Nathans Island 3.35 hectares

Nugget Point 0.73ha

Horseshoe Bay 1.82ha

The consent is for five years.

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