Potential for more aquaculture in Tasman and Golden Bays, and in Northland, Southland and the Coromandel has triggered growth in one of the New Zealand’s largest aquaculture consultancies.

Top of the South Island-based Aquaculture Direct has sold 50 percent of the company to Auckland-based sustainability adviser Envirostrat through Graeme Coates relinquishing his shareholding.

Coates would remain as a director of Aquaculture Direct, but was no longer a shareholder.

Aquaculture Direct cofounder and managing director Bruce Cardwell said the sale had formed a highly specialised aquaculture consultancy business, and had changed what was a small, local operator in Marlborough to a nationwide opportunity for aquaculture.

He said it would allow expansion of expertise that would position them better to assist with development of an industry which has struggled to attract investment.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is the consents we need in order to operate in public water space.

“They are limited by time and not necessarily renewable so people who want to invest are always nervous of that.”

Cardwell said the industry was aware it used public water space which had to be carefully managed. He said the industry was aware of its footprint, and concerns were well known and documented.

“We are part of the public domain, and increasingly there are more demands for higher environmental standards.

“We all agree, it’s just how we adapt. It’s like the Covid issue at the moment, we’re all trying to adapt to a new way of living and it’s the same in agri and in aquaculture – we have to develop and learn new systems and processes.”

Aquaculture Direct provides management solutions for the aquaculture industry, including resource consents, advice on farm development, monitoring and compliance requirements, and advice on daily operational management of marine farms.

Cardwell said Auckland-based sustainability adviser Envirostrat, which works with public and private organisations including iwi, had unique skillsets in both coastal and freshwater sectors while Aquaculture Direct was highly specialised in aquaculture and worked closely with the industry.

He said Aquaculture Direct planned to double its business over the next 12 months.

“We’ve been operating with basically three and a few associates and we’ve realised the potential for aquaculture, and therefore needed new skillsets and different thinking to work with the industry and help to grow its focus, scale and value.”

Cardwell said Envirostrat’s involvement had brought a further 20 staff to the team.

He said there was potential for the industry to expand into new regions and to utilise available water space in Tasman and Golden Bays, with plans already being worked on to support through development of Port Tarakohe in Golden Bay.

“There are people who want to invest in good ‘green’ projects and we’ll be leading that charge.”

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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