Marine farm expansion allowed despite algae fears

An extension to a marine farm in Pelorus Sound has got the go-ahead from the Marlborough District Council resource hearings committee despite concerns it is close to a rare marine habitat.

Talley’s Group Limited was granted a 2-hectare extension to its marine farm site at Tawhitinui Reach.

It will bring the total size of the farm to 3.6ha to cultivate green shell and blue shell mussels and dredge oysters.

A rhodolith bed, which is red algae that resembles coral, is believed to be under the northern warps of the existing inshore farm.

The beds are important ecologically to provide spawning for aquatic life, the committee said.

Only two rhodolith beds are known to be in Pelorus Sound, both near the farm site.

“On the one hand the application site is further away from a rhodolith bed thought to be under warps of the existing farm, while on the other hand it is moving closer to an offshore reef identified in the 2011 ecologically significant marine sites study,” the committee said.

The site had been adjusted to prevent the impacts of shell drop on sensitive habitats, the committee said. It was not satisfied the farm extension would have an effect on the rhodolith bed.

No information had been provided about the health, size and exact location of the sensitive habitat, the committee said.

“The evidence that has been presented to date had been largely theoretical, which is not sufficient when considering the need to protect such important habitats,” the committee said.

As a condition of the consent, Talley’s will be required to monitor the rhodolith bed and recommend remediation should it be discovered there are adverse effects on the bed.

The marine farm has been in place for nearly 20 years.

Four submitters who own property near the application site opposed the application on the grounds the farm would impact their views of the Tennyson Inlet and increased harvesting would step up noise at the farm.

Submitters said the extension was inappropriate considering the outstanding landscape value and Sounds Residential Zone beside the farm.

 

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