A Government shake-up may have scotched plans by the Auckland Regional Council to push new marine farms to the outer edges of its waters.
The ARC had decided most new fish and shellfish farms in the region should be far from the shore and planned to invite applications for new marine farming space on either side of Great Barrier Island.
But the law is set to undergo a revamp in favour of marine farmers, including a proposal to require all councils to "have regard to the Crown's interest in making opportunities available to aquaculture".
Coastal policy researcher Raewyn Peart said councils should still be able to ban marine farms from certain areas under the proposed new regime. But it is possible the Environment Minister will be able to step in and force the council's hand.
Councillor Paul Walbran, who led the committee considering marine farms, said inner waters were popular for fishing, water-skiing and swimming.
"Auckland has a huge population," he said, "a very great percentage of which is interacting with the water and that places a large amount of pressure on water space already."