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Aquaculture in the Auckland region

Aquaculture in the Auckland region

11 April 2008


The Auckland Regional Council has taken an initial precautionary position on the future management of aquaculture (marine farming) in the region’s coastal marine area, and is to consult on this.

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) is to use the new legislative tools provided by the 2005 Aquaculture Law Reforms (Invited Private Plan Changes and Excluded Areas) in order to best determine where new Aquaculture Management Areas may be established and where they are inappropriate.

This does not affect any existing marine farming operations, the continuation of which is covered by the 2005 law reforms.

Councillor Paul Walbran, Chair of the Regional Strategy and Planning Committee says that extensive areas of Auckland’s coast are generally inappropriate for large new aquaculture ventures, but that various smaller operations may well be accommodated within this approach.

“The reasons for such a precautionary approach are clear. The Auckland region is the largest population centre in the country and it sits beside some of the most highly valued and used coastal areas in New Zealand. Our coastal waters are already under significant pressure from often mutually exclusive competing uses, and this will only increase in the future as the region’s population grows,” says Cr. Walbran.

“Aucklanders have traditionally made great use of their coastal marine area. Popular recreational pursuits include boating, swimming and fishing, but people also place huge value on being able to get away from it all to undisturbed natural areas. Tangata whenua have very strong connections with the coast and in addition many coastal areas have high ecological and conservation value.

“Our coast is also important for economic reasons: commercial fishing, shipping, tourism, and aquaculture. Let’s also not forget that the Hauraki Gulf is recognized as being of national significance by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000.”

Cr. Walbran says that the council does appreciate that aquaculture can offer economic benefits to the region and in coming up with its precautionary position it has thought carefully about how to balance these competing uses and values.

“We have noted the developing trend for offshore aquaculture elsewhere in the country, and at this early stage consider that large new aquaculture ventures would be best directed away from the shore. We are working on ways to provide flexibility for various smaller scale aquaculture developments within an otherwise broadly restrictive aquaculture policy framework.”

“The policies we are developing could have major effects on future generations of Aucklanders and their use and enjoyment of our coastal waters, so it makes complete sense to start cautiously. Our policy framework is a starting point from which discussion can begin,” says Cr. Walbran.

The ARC has approved preliminary consultation to start on draft principles, directions and concepts for a regional aquaculture policy framework, and indicative excluded areas.

Consultation will begin in April and proceed in several stages. Formal notification of a proposed variation to the Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal, and subsequent submissions to it, is anticipated to follow this process in early 2009.

ENDS

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