Big goals for salmon farming in Southland
A regional goal to increase salmon production in Southland from 3000 tonnes to 28,000 tonnes by 2020, which would result in nearly 370 new jobs, has been revealed in a discussion document.
The goal to increase salmon production nine-fold has been made by the Aquaculture Project for Southland, managed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy team and bringing together Ngai Tahu, industry, local government and central government agencies to explore potential new aquaculture space in Southland.
Southland has 46 marine farms cultivating salmon, mussels and oysters, with those farms in Big Glory Bay , Bluff Harbour  and Horseshoe Bay at Stewart Island .
In total, the farms have about 290 hectares of consented space and cover about 1.5 hectares of penned space, says the marine aquaculture discussion document, written by senior policy planner Tanith Robb for an Environment Southland meeting on Wednesday.
Because of the Bonamia ostreae incursion early this year, up to 5000 tonnes of oysters were pulled from Big Glory Bay and the short-term future of farmed oysters in Southland is now uncertain.
The discussion document says Southland's salmon farms produce about 3000 tonnes a year with an export value of about $39 million; and about 2000 tonnes of mussels are produced in Southland each year with an export value of about $6.4m.
But the potential for new aquaculture in Southland, with a flow on in employment and regional wealth, is significant, the document says.
"The industry and iwi supported regional goal is to increase salmon production from 3000 tonnes to 28,000 tonnes by 2020."
This would generate additional export earnings of $214m a year, add $60m to Southland's gross domestic product and create 367 jobs directly or indirectly in the region.
"Achieving this goal would mean Southland could generate about $500m in salmon value."
But the effects of aquaculture on the coastal marine area can be significant if not well managed, the document says.
Aquaculture has been identified in the Southland Regional Development Strategy [SoRDS] as being the "single greatest opportunity" to create a new comparable advantage for Southland on an international scale.
"There is potential for Southland aquaculture to become an internationally significant industry in terms of scale and quality," the document says.
The Government is working with the SoRDS team and Ngai Tahu to explore the environmental, cultural and commercial feasibility of salmon farming in Stewart Island.
Potential sites had been narrowed down to Paterson Inlet, Port Pegasus and Port Adventure at Stewart Island and Preservation Inlet and Chalky Inlet in Fiordland National Park.
However, before the five identified locations can be considered viable options, either the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement or Resource Management Act must be amended, the discussion document says.
Adding to the difficulty, all five potential locations are currently prohibited under the Southland regional coastal plan, which is being reviewed.
The next phase of the project is to determine the environmental and commercial suitability of the five locations, the discussion document says.
- The Southland Times