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More certainty about aquaculture development

Policy to provide more certainty about aquaculture development

31 July 2006

An Auckland Regional Council (ARC) decision to develop a regional aquaculture policy framework will provide more certainty for the aquaculture industry and the public alike.

In announcing the decision, Regional Strategy and Planning Committee Chairman Paul Walbran says that when developing a regional aquaculture policy framework, the council will bring together a complex range of economic, environmental, social and cultural issues to determine where aquaculture is appropriate in the region.

“The Auckland region is unique in the country because there’s considerable competition for using coastal marine areas. It is New Zealand’s most populated region, and it also has the highest per capita engagement with the sea for both leisure and work. We need to provide clear direction so as to ensure that all Aucklanders can make optimal use of our harbours, the Hauraki Gulf and the territorial sea beyond,” says Mr Walbran.

Under The Resource Management Amendment Act (No.2) 2004, councils can decide whether or not to allow the development of aquaculture. Zones called aquaculture management areas (AMAs) must be established. These areas can only be established by way of changes to regional coastal plans. Development of a new marine farm within an AMA also requires a coastal permit from the regional council.

The RMA provides three methods to establish AMAs:

- The Council initiates a plan change proposal to decide where aquaculture may occur. Any proposal is subject to the normal plan change submission and appeal process.

- Any party may initiate a private plan change to establish an AMA. Any application is subject to the normal plan change submission and appeal process.

- The Council may choose to invite private plan changes (IPPC) to establish AMAs. Here councils may choose to identify excluded areas, locations where IPPC applications cannot be made. Any proposal then follows the normal plan change submission and appeal process.

The Regional Strategy and Planning Committee agreed to further investigate the IPPC option.

“In selecting the IPPC process in the context of a regional policy framework for aquaculture and excluded areas, the Council will ensure that future aquaculture development maximises the ability of the regional community as a whole to fulfil its aspirations,” says Mr Walbran.

The Regional Strategy and Planning Committee has accorded urgency to the project and asked that a project plan be reported back to its August meeting.


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