New Zealand: Muscle beyond mussels – new Aquaculture Bill has long reach

Last Updated: 15 November 2010
Article by John Hassan

Most Read Contributor in New Zealand, September 2016

The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (the Bill) contains measures which will have reach beyond aquaculture – particularly in relation to managing allocation where there is high demand for, or high pressure on, resources.

This Brief Council examines these wider provisions and considers whether they provide a guide to the reforms which will emerge through the Government's Freshwater Strategy.

Allocation methods, including review of "first in, first served" for consent applications and enhanced use of "economic instruments", have been flagged as likely themes in the Government's Phase 2 Resource Management Act reforms. 

These are topics of interest not only to coastal occupation, but also for water where catchments face over-allocation pressures, and for the management of contamination of lakes and rivers.

It is significant, therefore, that the Bill overcomes the limitations of its name to stray into areas beyond aquaculture. 

New tools the Bill contemplates to manage competition for coastal space include:

  • allowing coastal plans to impose moratoria on applications and to require competing coastal space applications to be processed and heard together, putting an end to "first in, first served", and
  • allowing for the offer of "authorisations" - including by tender, ballot or other market mechanism - where there is anticipated competition for space.  The authorisation would confer on the successful bidder or purchaser a two-year exclusive right to apply for a consent.  These rights could be transferred or sold to another prospective applicant within the two year term.

Alongside these reforms, the Bill includes direct changes to the Tasman and Waikato regional coastal plans.  For Waikato, this includes a policy for the use of tendering to allocate the right to discharge nitrogen from fed aquaculture into the Firth of Thames. 

Hearing competing applications together

Section 165D in the Bill provides that regional coastal plans can seek to manage competition for space by:

  • specifying that no applications for coastal permits can be made before a certain date (this would not apply to authorisations, discussed below)
  • authorising the council to process and hear together applications for the same space or for different spaces that are in close proximity to each other, and
  • placing limits on the amount of space that can be allocated under a single permit and on the character, intensity or scale of activities.

The full scale of this change is not entirely clear.  The Bill does not, for example, spell out whether this will authorise applications to be compared on their merits in order to "pick the winner".  However, that would appear an obvious intention, and we may be seeing here a sign of things to come for other contexts, in particular access to water in over-allocated catchments, and pollution management. 


The provisions relating to authorisations are contained in sections 165E to 165Z.  Key features are:

  • once an authorisation system is in place, permits can only be allocated to the holder of the authorisation
  • authorisations are transferable by the holder to another party
  • authorisations apply for two years during which time the holder has an exclusive right to apply for a consent
  • the Minister may direct that a Council not proceed with a proposed allocation of authorisations, or proceed subject to certain conditions, in order to give effect to the government's marine coastal policy or to preserve the Crown's ability to honour its obligations to Māori
  • where the regional plan does not provide for authorisations, or where the Council does not consider that the allocative method in the plan will enable it to manage demand, the Council can seek the Minister's approval to go to public tender or to use an alternative allocation method, and
  • Councils may accept any offer in the tender process, reject all offers and/or call for new offers, or enter negotiations with an applicant.

The authorisation mechanism is not limited in the Bill and could apply to all occupation activities in the coastal marine area, not just aquaculture.  Again, too, it is easy to anticipate it as a prototype for the use of market mechanisms for other resources which are in high demand.

Tendering contaminant discharge rights?

An unusual feature of this Bill is that it would retrofit immediate changes to the Tasman and Waikato regional coastal plans.  The changes are set out in Schedules 2 and 3.  For the Waikato plan, this would include a change to its policies to refer to the use of "tendering to allocate the right to apply for the discharge of nitrogen fed aquaculture in the Firth of Thames".

Economic instruments have long been signalled as a possible alternative to regulation for the management of adverse effects under the RMA.  To some extent, they are in use in the form of "financial contribution" rules in various plans.  However, while the RMA also provides for "coastal tendering", this regime has never been used.  The Bill signals that this is about to change.

The Bill notes that a new mechanism is needed to deliver to Treaty and Māori resource access aspirations in respect of new space but does not provide any detail as to what shape this might take

Finally the Bill is another strand of what is becoming a very busy tapestry of issues in coastal policy and reform.  Other strands include the recently promulgated NZ Coastal Policy Statement 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Areas Bill now before the Māori Affairs Select Committee.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.