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Further consultation with Maori on marine farming

Further consultation with Maori on marine farming proposals

At least 10 hui will be held nationwide to consult further with Maori on proposed reforms to the way marine farming is managed.

The consultation is a direct response to the Waitangi Tribunal’s recommendations in its Ahu Moana report on the WAI 953 aquaculture claim. Government departments are organising the hui to further inform Maori about the proposed reforms and to seek feedback on the potential impact of the reforms on Maori interests.

Specific dates and locations for the hui are being finalised in consultation with claimants, but the meetings will occur in the second half of April. Modifications to the reform proposals will then be considered based on the results of the consultation process.

"The Government agrees with the Tribunal that there is no need to stop or indefinitely delay the reforms," said Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson. "This further consultation brings only a short delay in introduction of the aquaculture reform legislation.

"Officials have already met twice with the aquaculture claimants to exchange information in advance of the forthcoming consultation. "We share the aim of ensuring that Maori are well informed and the process is as productive as possible."

Mr Hodgson said the Government was pleased with the progress regional councils were making in their initial investigation or confirmation of the best sites for marine farming.

"We understand that councils want to make progress with the development of Aquaculture Management Areas. Marine farmers are also keen to see the legislation finalised, so they can be certain of the regime they will be operating under.

"The Government has no wish to extend the moratorium on consideration of new resource consent applications for aquaculture, which expires in March 2004. We still intend to ensure the aquaculture reform legislation is introduced and considered by Parliament by then."

The Waitangi Tribunal in its Ahu Moana report acknowledged that the Crown had made efforts to address issues raised by the claimants before the Tribunal hearing in October 2002, but said further “fine tuning” of the aquaculture reform proposals was required. Both the Tribunal and the claimants have acknowledged the importance of the reforms and the need for them to proceed.

In line with the Tribunal’s recommendations, consultation will focus on two key areas: the substance of the reforms, including the move to a more planned approach to aquaculture development through the establishment of Aquaculture Management Areas by regional councils; and how the Crown can preserve its capacity to protect Maori interests in marine farming.

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