Crackdown on oyster bonds

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Abatement notices are set to be issued to 43 marine farmers for failing to lodge bonds to spare ratepayers the cost of cleaning up abandoned oyster farms.

For several years Northland Regional Council has tried to reach a mutually acceptable solution to protect roughly 300 hectares of public space occupied by the almost 100 oyster farms.

NRC consents/monitoring manager Colin Dall said the farms are from Parengarenga Harbour in the north to the Kaipara Harbour in the south. Under resource consents terms, oyster farmers must lodge a bond of $9000 for each hectare of developed farm; the average would pay about $90 per hectare annually.

Some farmers repeatedly cite tough financial times in delaying lodging the bonds and the council had extended the deadline three times over several years, Mr Dall said.

Having set a "final" deadline of June 30, the council will this week issue notices giving farmers three months to lodge bonds or an acceptable alternative, or face action including daily fines of up to $750.

- Northern Advocate

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