The Tasman District Council will apply for a $22 million Provincial Growth Fund grant towards a major upgrade of Golden Bay’s Port Tarakohe.

Following a two-step consultation process that canvassed key stakeholders and attracted 162 public submissions, the Council today adopted a revised port upgrade proposal and business case, and agreed to seek a substantial contribution from the Government fund.

The $28.3 million port upgrade is proposed to cater for a projected increased in mussel production – from the current 8000 tonnes annually to 32,000 in 2029 - in Golden and Tasman bays following approvals being granted for 2200 hectares of new mussel farming space. These approvals came after an extensive Tasman Resource Management Plan Change and publicly-notified resource consent process that took place over several years, including Environment Court hearings.

The proposal is to upgrade and reconfigure both the commercial and recreational areas of the port. Protection for little blue penguin nesting areas and potential new shorebird roosting areas are also part of the development proposal.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the port was a critical piece of infrastructure for Golden Bay and the proposed upgrade would allow both the Bay and the wider region to realise the benefits expected to flow from the growing aquaculture industry.

“The success of the port is extremely important to the economic prosperity of Golden Bay, providing jobs and flow-on local spending. Market Economics projects the aquaculture industry in Golden and Tasman bays will result in a GDP increase of between $983 million and $1.4 billion over 25 years, half of which will be in our region. It will generate an extra 1030 jobs over the same period and close to 60% of those will be in Tasman and Nelson.”

Richard said: “Port Tarakohe is also a highly valued recreational asset, and provides critical community resilience in the event of disruptions to road access in and out of Golden Bay.”

Richard said the port, which would continue to be owned and operated by Tasman District Council, had struggled financially for many years, and in its current state could not take advantage of the opportunity presented by forecast aquaculture growth.

“Generally, submitters were supportive of upgrading the port. A range of issues were raised during the consultation process and there have been several changes to the proposals as a result of that feedback.”

Those changes include:

  • Layout changes to create more working wharf area
  • Layout changes to provide more parking C
  • Changes to allow rock/dolomite storage and exports to continue across the wharf
  • Public toilets located next to recreational marina
  • Fencing to protect penguins and potential provision of a roosting area for shorebirds
  • Co-investment from industry and the Council

The proposal seeks a $22 million PGF grant to supplement a $3.36 million capital contribution and $2.6 million operating funding from Tasman District Council, as well as proposed co-investment from industry of $2.84m. Port fees and charges would also increase over several years to help fund the work and ongoing operational costs.

“A final decision whether to proceed with the development won’t be made until we know the outcome of our application to the Provincial Growth Fund,” Richard said. “If we are successful, we will also seek a formal agreement with industry covering their investment in the port.”