Example of an open ocean farm in Norway


Open Ocean Farming

New Zealand King Salmon has lodged an application with Marlborough District Council (MDC) for resource consent to place an open ocean farm, which we’ve named ‘Blue Endeavour’, 7km north of Cape Lambert in the Cook Strait.

If the application for the 1,792 hectare site is approved, we intend to commission an initial farm with the potential to grow approx. 4,000 tonnes of King salmon. A secondary farm would then follow and produce an equivalent amount. NZKS currently produces 8,000 tonnes per year of salmon at our inshore sites.

We expect a hearing to be held in the first half of 2020. If successful, we hope to have the farm commissioned in 2021, with a first harvest in 2022/23.

We have already met with a wide range of organisations, including iwi, fishing companies, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird, the Environmental Defence Society and local community groups and we invite anyone wanting to know more to meet with us.

We look forward to your support on this challenging, but exciting journey.

Further information and all official documentation relating to the resource consent can be accessed via the MDC website here. 

We have prepared answers to some frequently asked questions, which you can download here. Alternatively, if you require any further information or details, please do not hesitate to contact us during this period.

Location of proposed open ocean site


A video of the seabed in the region of the proposed Blue Endeavour farm.

What is Open Ocean Farming?

Open ocean farming is a developing aquaculture practice where farms are located in deeper, less sheltered, high energy surface waters with stronger currents. They are typically several kilometers away from land, to significantly reduce the environmental effects and other constraints that can affect inshore aquaculture.

Moving into the open ocean presents new and significant technological challenges for fish farming, but also opportunities for high-value aquaculture expansion with enhanced social and environmental outcomes.

Why Open Ocean Farming

Open ocean farming is the future of salmon farming, not only in New Zealand but globally.

Open ocean farming has a range of benefits over the current in-shore method, including improved biosecurity, a reduction in the effects of seasonal temperature changes (which are more extreme inshore), improved animal welfare and reduced environmental and community impacts. Open ocean farming will still require a number of sites closer to shore to allow for smolt growth and harvest.

We sincerely believe this initiative will provide a positive boost to the Top of the South’s future and we hope that you will support us in our application. In addition to environmental and social benefits, the open ocean farms proposed will deliver many green jobs to the Top of the South region.

Salmon farming in the open ocean will certainly be more challenging weather-wise, but will also bring benefits of higher-flow, deeper and cooler waters well away from land. After 30 years of farming King salmon, we know the optimal conditions for raising this rare species. Climate change is very real and we have felt its impact in the Marlborough Sounds over recent summers. We will continue to farm in the Sounds, but the open ocean opportunity is crucial to our long-term sustainability efforts. After a significant amount of monitoring, we believe we’ve chosen the best site possible.

The Government’s recently launched Aquaculture Strategy supports the pursuit of open ocean aquaculture to grow a resilient, productive and sustainable industry to reach $3 billion in annual sales by 2035. Currently it is worth $623 million.

Open ocean farming has also had support from the science industry with Cawthron Institute aquaculture scientist Kevin Heasman stating that it has “massive potential”.

This is a massive opportunity for our company, the region and the aquaculture industry and is the future of salmon farming.



Relocating New Zealand King Salmon In-Shore Farms

New Zealand King Salmon is working positively with the government to progress a proposal to relocate several farms to higher flow waters. The proposal aims to reduce environmental impact, mitigate summer temperatures, create even more green jobs, and prepare for the future of salmon farming.

To relocate the farms, a decision is required from the Minister of Fisheries, under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The proposal is based on relocating areas that are presently consented to be farmed.

Why relocation?

The relocation proposal is crucial to the long-term viability of salmon farming in the top of the South Island.

Demand for premium King salmon currently outstrips supply, requiring some customer rationing and the importing of overseas salmon to fill the gap, both of which constrain New Zealand King Salmon’s ability to employ more people in the top of the south.

If New Zealand King Salmon cannot relocate, we may need to reduce production and scale back our business.

Relocation will enable New Zealand King Salmon to operate in the most suitable water space for salmon farming, and importantly, do so with a reduced environmental footprint.

What will relocation achieve?

Environmental Benefits

  • Salmon farming is already one of the most efficient forms of animal food production in the world and our current farms operate on a very low environmental footprint. To improve environmental standards further, the proposed sites are in areas with higher flows and deeper waters.
  • Relocation would be a major step on a pathway to farming offshore. It will enable growth in the medium-term, with no increase in consented farming space in the Marlborough Sounds. It would also allow us to test new technology that has not been used in New Zealand before, which would be critical to offshore farming.

Economic Benefits

  • The relocation proposal, according to an independent third-party report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, if fully implemented, would create hundreds of new jobs and is anticipated to generate close to $200 million in additional revenue annually.
  • A series of research reports have consistently identified salmon farming as one of the key sectors New Zealand could expand to create further wealth, particularly in our regions.
  • New Zealand King Salmon is proud that all team members earn the current living wage – or above. This relocation proposal would help maintain this.
  • New Zealand King Salmon invests a considerable amount in improving and growing its business. We spent close to $22 million during the last two years, ending June 2018, on operational infrastructure such as a new feed barge, additional pens to expand two farms, and improved processing equipment.


Relocating farms is a vital step to moving into the open ocean