An independent panel has declined a resource consent application from Ngāi Tahu Seafood to construct and operate an open ocean salmon farm off the north-eastern coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura. The panel declined the consent for Ngāi Tahu Seafood’s Hananui Aquaculture Project ‘’with a heavy heart’’ and agreed the proposal would have enormous benefit for Ngāi Tahu, Rakiura and the wider Southland community. The decision was released on Tuesday and a spokesperson for the company said it was reviewing the decision. The panel was concerned the salmon farms would result in a major change to an area relatively unmodified by human activities, with very high natural character a notable absence of any permanent marine structures and a low level of human activity. The proposed location is two to six kilometres off the northern coast of Rakiura, and it has spent more than two years working with mana whenua and independent experts to find the right location.