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Published: 2011-12-14 00:00:00

Prospective Coromandel fish farmers will undergo a rigorous selection process when the Waikato Regional Council calls for tenders next year.

The council yesterday directed staff to prepare a report recommending how the marine farming space would ultimately be tendered and approved by council.

The report will be presented to the council at its next meeting in February 2012. The timing of next year’s tender process is yet to be decided.

The Coromandel marine farming zone was created on 1 October to accommodate about 8000 tonnes of fish farming, which the Government estimates will generate export revenues in excess of $100 million.

At the same time 90 hectares within the existing Wilsons Bay zone was set aside and could accommodate another 4000 tonnes of fish farming.

Acting chairman Simon Friar said: “The farming of high value species, such as kingfish and hapuku, will help to drive the region’s economic growth.

“Developing just 6000 tonnes per annum of fish farming will employ about 230 people and generate another 240 indirect jobs – achieving full development will double that.”

Policy committee chair Paula Southgate said the council was working to ensure there was a rigorous selection process in place when tenders are sought next year.

“Policy staff have been reviewing the process for setting up fish farms to ensure there is a robust tender and consenting process, so that any potential environmental effects are managed,” Cr Southgate said.

Fish farming is a discretionary activity and the council will decline resource consent for any proposal that cannot prove its environmental sustainability to an adequate level.

The tendering process will determine which proposal or proposals go forward to apply for consent under the Resource Management Act. The proposals will be scored on a range of attributes, with a particular emphasis placed on the socio-economic benefits of the proposal to the community and the nation.

Cr Southgate said the council’s share of any tender money would be used to study, monitor and manage the marine environment. Farmers will also be required to monitor the effects of their farm, and where necessary, will be required to take action in response to the monitoring results.

Before its release by tender, 20 per cent of the fish farming space must be allocated to the Maori Trustee, and the Minister of Conservation must be given four months notice.