Publications: Research reports and publications

Review of the ecological effects of marine finfish aquaculture: final report

1 June, 2007
Cawthron Report 1285. Prepared for Ministry of Fisheries

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

OVERVIEW

The marine finfish aquaculture industry in New Zealand is small by comparison with many other countries, and based primarily around sea-cage farming of King salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) at sites in the Marlborough Sounds, Akaroa Harbour, and Big Glory Bay (Stewart Island). There has been recent interest in expansion of the finfish industry to new areas and new species such as yellowtail kingfish and groper, among others. A trial kingfish farm is already established in the Marlborough Sounds. This report reviews existing information on the ecological effects of finfish farming, providing background knowledge that will assist with resource management decisions in relation to future development. However, this review is not intended to be an assessment of environmental effects that could be used directly in relation to a resource consent application; any assessment for such purposes would need to consider a range of site-specific issues.

The ecological effects of finfish farms have been intensively studied world-wide, primarily in relation to the development of the salmon farming industry. Finfish held in aquaculture are fed artificial diets in the form of food pellets, and early work highlighted significant effects on the seabed beneath farm structures, which arose from the deposition of waste (i.e., uneaten) feed and faecal material from the farmed stock. There is now a considerable amount of scientific literature on the seabed effects of salmon farms from both New Zealand and overseas.