Oyster farm hearing set to begin

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 14/05/2014

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A hearing on an application to cultivate oysters at three new Stewart Island sites will begin at Environment Southland tomorrow.

Last year, Stewart Island resident Len Lind and his wife, Susan, applied for consent to cultivate Foveaux Strait/Bluff dredge oysters at Nathan's Island, Nugget and Horseshoe Bay under the name Suelen Properties Ltd.

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

Environment Southland received 24 submissions on the application. Of those, eight were in support, 13 opposed and three commented but did not specify for or against.

The majority of submissions in support of the proposal cited increased employment opportunities as a benefit.

Some submitters also said the farm would have a lower environmental impact than tourism and was no different than the practice of storing crayfish pots within the coastal marine area.

Those opposed argued the farm would affect recreation values, marine life, accessibility, cause navigation problems, and set a precedent for further marine farming in the area.

In particular, Dancing Star Foundation, which operates an ecological preserve and community nursery adjacent to the proposed site, submitted the benefits of the preserve far outweighed those provided by the application.

A report prepared by Environment Southland staff ahead of Thursday's hearing says the effects of the marine farm may be more than minor.

However, the effect was likely to be less than those of currently-consented traditional marine farms because of the relatively low density of structures and low level of biomass produced.

The two-day hearing starts at 9am tomorrow.

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