The Nelson-based company, which produces about 7,000 tonnes of farmed salmon a year – two-thirds of New Zealand’s total – wants to expand from its current five hectares to 15ha in the coming years.
It expected to generate about NZ$115 million in revenue this year, and chief executive Grant Rosewarne told the Aquaculture New Zealand conference in Nelson that given more space this could potentially rise to $500m, with demand outstripping its production.
Rosewarne said NZKS had begun ordering nets and building pontoons for a new farm it would build on the expectation of being granted new space next year.
"It’s a bit risky but we think the Government has great integrity in what it is doing so we’re prepared to put our investment out ahead of getting our water space,” he said.
No expansion since 2004
This week legislation aimed at streamlining the consenting process for new aquaculture space had its first reading in Parliament.
Under the current system, which requires regional councils to designate special aquaculture management areas, no new space has been approved since 2004, when the regulations were introduced.
NZKS expected the new legislation would allow space to be approved rapidly if the preparatory work was done.
Prime Minister John Key believes the growth of aquaculture in New Zealand will largely depend on how fast production can be ramped up, as demand grows around the world.
He said the industry had been held back for a decade by legislation which had "fundamentally failed".
Laws introduced by the Government this month should help the industry reach its target of growing to NZ$1 billion in revenue a year by 2025, or faster.