[13 December/Otago Daily Times]

New Zealand King Salmon proposes to seek approval for a third monitoring site as it seeks to test the viability for offshore fish farms in Otago. The Otago Regional Council intends to process the consents itself, instead of calling in the Conservation Minister. The company had applied for consents in Otago for two 3600ha monitoring sites off the province’s eastern coast and Business Development Manager, Mark Preece, said the company hoped to submit an application before Christmas for a third site roughly 20km off the coast of Oamaru, about the same size as those in the other applications. The company has also applied for three similar consents in Southland off the coast of Stewart Island, four in Canterbury and two in Marlborough, with the Southland and Marlborough Councils both deciding to call in the minister, because they saw them as being of national significance. Otago councillors decided on Tuesday it should process the consents itself although the minister could still decide to call them in. Mr Preece said the company should know if a site was viable about six months after monitoring buoys were put there. If farms were created, the company imagined consents would be processed together on a national level to ensure consistency. King Salmon is exploring offshore farms further south because of a rapid warming of the water temperature in the Marlborough Sounds.