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Peters Speech: Political Prawns In The Seafood Ind

“Political Prawns In The Seafood Industry”

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to Maritime and Seafood Educators Conference at 6.30pm, 5 September 2003 Armitage Hotel, Cameron Road, Tauranga

The marine industry is growing rapidly into one of New Zealand’s major export industries.

Seafood is our fourth largest exporter after dairy, meat, and timber.

The earnings from this industry are approaching $1.5billion annually and with 26,000 full time employees, it is now a significant employer of labour.

Annual sales growth is a sound eight percent - compared with New Zealand’s annual economic growth which is expected to taper off to about two percent in the next twelve months.

The marine industry is an excellent example of an industry ‘adding value’ and providing employment.

The key issue for the future of the seafood industry and continued growth as an export earner, is sustainability.

Just as we cannot continue to squander our best farm land in urban sprawl, neither can we plunder our fisheries resources.

International concerns, fishing patrols, and ideally a voluntary conformity with an agreed quota management regime is required.

We need to carefully study the effects of marine reserves on fish stocks, and ensure that management decisions are informed by adequate knowledge.

The degree to which these latter issues are facilitated by the development of an Oceans policy will determine the success of this initiative.

As with many other initiatives we must take care that the process is not captured by the politically correct bureaucratic machine.

The industry is a major exporter and like other export industries is being serious hurt by the strength of the New Zealand dollar. Keeping the OCR at five percent is high by international standards and this policy attracts overseas money and pushes up the value of the New Zealand dollar.

Ongoing population growth has been fuelling a sharp rise in residential and construction activity throughout the country and has supported household spending.

This means that exporters struggle to survive on international markets while property speculators and rack renters in Auckland have a field day.

Being involved in the seafood industry you will have been following the argument over ownership of the foreshore and seabed with interest.

New Zealand First’s position on this is quite clear.

Our policy is that the Crown should have legal title to the foreshore and seabed and will legislate for this after the 2005 election.

New Zealand First opposes any policy that gives one group of citizens uniquely special rights and privileges extending over natural resources on the land, in the air or the surrounding sea.

Traditional and customary rights of use of the foreshore and seabed and other natural resources, widely enjoyed by various New Zealand institutions, should be respected and protected.

Port companies and other legal commercial and recreational interests such as marinas should retain their rights intact. These rights have already been spelt out in law.

Sporting interests such as yacht, boat and waka racing, triathlons, rowing and recreational fishing etc should be accepted as a form of customary use.

The Government has created legal confusion by not vesting ownership of the foreshore and seabed with the Crown.

New Zealand started with a three-mile limit on our coastline, it was moved to 12 miles and then to 200 miles – all conferred by international arrangement.

The concept of “public domain” as announced creates legal uncertainty over New Zealand’s international rights to the 200-mile limit.

It is also open to political manipulation and cronyism. Any abandonment of the term “Crown Ownership” in favour of “public domain” is one more covert creeping step towards republicanism.

The separate aspects to the seabed and foreshore issue have to be dealt with fairly and clearly.

All New Zealanders want their rights of access stated clearly and unequivocally.

Maori should retain customary rights of access, where they exist, to kai moana.

All New Zealanders, including Maori, should have the opportunity to access to foreshore and seabed resources for developing aquaculture.

New Zealanders should have precedence over overseas interests in any marine activity.

Port companies, marina and recreational activities should keep their customary rights to the foreshore and seabed.

Maori have expressed concern in some areas that they have been left out of the Quota Management System introduced in 1986 and also denied marine farming opportunities that would provide employment.

There is justification for this concern.

New Zealand First believes that Maori are entitled to a fair share of aquaculture development activities.

The key to the future is fairness in the allocation of resources.

While the sea is a source of rich harvest and renewable resources, we must be careful how we exploit these resources.

Policies and procedures that we set in place now will impact on generations to come so that it is important that we get it right.

Your commitment to this is vital. It is the key to the future.

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