New Zealand Thames shellfish farm plans approved15 April, 2009 – The New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries has made a preliminary decision to approve the 1,783 hectare Wilson Bay Interim Aquaculture Management Area in the Firth of Thames. Of this area, 520 hectares has been zoned for shellfish farming, with the remainder being access-ways between marine farm blocks.We had to judge whether the proposed farm would unduly affect fishing or the sustainability of fisheries resources in the area, said Ministry of Fisheries regulatory manager Russell Burnard. The application will have some effects on commercial set net fishing. However, based on current information in front of me, Im satisfied the proposed site would not have an undue adverse effect on this fishery. The applicant and affected parties now have the opportunity to provide additional information before the Ministrys final decision is made. The preliminary decision may change if additional information shows the effects are more or less than currently expected.We like to run an open process, said Mr Burnard. Now that I have made this preliminary decision, parties get to see what I am thinking and what information I have taken into account. They can then provide additional information they wish me to consider. Any additional information provided will be carefully considered before the final decision to grant or decline the application is made. Submissions on the preliminary decisions should be made by 15 May 2009. The Ministry will then start to consider the information it receives and will, depending on the amount of additional information, probably make a final decision on the Wilson Bay Interim Aquaculture Management Area in June 2009.