Would-be marine farmers, not ratepayers, will carry the costs for Northland marine farm areas to be zoned.
The Northland Regional Council has adopted a new regime that will result in prospective marine farmers footing the bill for changes to its Regional Coastal Plan to allow Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs).
The council had previously planned to legally establish the AMAs in compliance with government laws banning new marine farms in other than designated zones.
Eighteen possible AMAs have been identified but moves to have them designated would involve public submissions and hearings processes.
Called the Invited Private Plan, the new regime will save ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, said the council's policy and planning committee chairman Peter Jensen.
Would-be marine farmers wanting to establish a venture in an AMA would still need to apply for development consents, possibly resulting in more public hearings, Mr Jensen said.
"The main change in our current approach is that it will now be up to applicants to apply to develop farms in these, or other, suitable parts of Northland and to meet the costs of doing so."
The council will hold public meetings around the region next month to outline the Invited Private Plan changes, after which a month will be allowed for feedback.
In the meantime, the council will send out information about the changes to hundreds of individuals and groups that had previously registered an interest.