Resource consent refusal poses a significant risk for Iwi

The refusal of a resource consent for a new Ngāi Tahu Seafood salmon farm in Te Waipounamu is more than just a setback for iwi aquaculture, it poses a significant risk for future Māori development – and ultimately, the ability to drive better outcomes for whānau and local communities.

The application was submitted by Ngāi Tahu under the Covid-19 fast-track legislation for consent, reinforcing that a te ao Māori lens showed the cultural, economic and social benefits of the farm outweighed the environmental costs.

The salmon farm was to be located two to six kilometres off the northern coast of Rakiura Stewart Island – a location that has taken more than two years to identify, working with mana whenua and independent experts.

Ngāi Tahu submitted a comprehensive application, where all potential impacts had been considered. The salmon farm would have been housed in floating polar circle-type pens, where the latest technology and environmental conditions would minimise the environmental impact and ensure it was a sustainable product.

The proposed concept aligned with the Government’s plan for open ocean aquaculture as part of a sustainable growth strategy, aiming to be a $3 billion industry by 2035.

But the Environmental Protection Authority has declined the consent, advising that the environmental impacts “were simply too significant”.

The Panel said it agreed the aquaculture kaupapa would hugely benefit Ngāi Tahu whānui, the wider community and the economy – but the benefits did not outweigh the environmental costs to an area that was home to threatened species.

Chris Karamea Insley, CEO of Te Arawa Fisheries, speaking on behalf of Ngā Iwi I te rohe o Waiariki (NIWA) says the refusal is concerning, will pose a significant risk to Māori development, and will no doubt impact iwi across Aotearoa.

“While the panel saw the significant benefits around this kaupapa, it still found a reason to decline. This is extremely concerning for iwi aquaculture – especially for those who are in the phase of developing potential aquaculture operations,” says Mr Insley.

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of other aquaculture developments around the motu as we seek to drive our own. We will also be engaging with politicians in the lead up to (and following) the election to ensure red tape doesn’t get in the way of progress.”

But the Environmental Protection Authority has declined the consent, advising that the environmental impacts “were simply too significant”.

The Panel said it agreed the aquaculture kaupapa would hugely benefit Ngāi Tahu whānui, the wider community and the economy – but the benefits did not outweigh the environmental costs to an area that was home to threatened species.

Chris Karamea Insley, CEO of Te Arawa Fisheries, speaking on behalf of Ngā Iwi I te rohe o Waiariki (NIWA) says the refusal is concerning, will pose a significant risk to Māori development, and will no doubt impact iwi across Aotearoa.

“While the panel saw the significant benefits around this kaupapa, it still found a reason to decline. This is extremely concerning for iwi aquaculture – especially for those who are in the phase of developing potential aquaculture operations,” says Mr Insley.

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of other aquaculture developments around the motu as we seek to drive our own. We will also be engaging with politicians in the lead up to (and following) the election to ensure red tape doesn’t get in the way of progress.”

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