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Aquaculture reforms a response to industry concern

06 October, 2004

Aquaculture reforms a response to industry concerns

A package of reforms that will allow the lifting of a moratorium that was stifling the aquaculture industry was a direct response to industry concerns, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope, responding to the New Zealand Aquaculture Council who represent growers of less than 20% of marine products farmed in New Zealand, said it was inevitable that there would always be a small minority who wanted to privatise the ocean for themselves.

"I make no apologies for stating that the oceans within our Exclusive Economic Zone belong to the people of New Zealand," said Mr Benson-Pope. "While there are those who feel they should be allowed to privatise and own that space, that is not an option this Government will ever consider.

"The Aquaculture Reform Bill secures a sustainable future for New Zealand’s aquaculture. I’m confident it balances economic development, environmental sustainability, Treaty obligations and community concerns.

"There was a need for change. Industry members would be the first to acknowledge they were having to spend more time and money on expensive legal processes than they were on developing marine farms and the industry. The Bill enables councils to better deal with all the effects on the environment and to assist the aquaculture industry to develop in a sustainable way.

"The Bill also provides a full and final settlement of Maori interests in commercial marine farming space by providing iwi, where possible, 20 percent of marine farming space allocated since 1992 and 20 percent of any future new space.

"This is an important step. Settling contemporary commercial claims removes a major impediment to progress and certainty. This is in line with the 1992 Fisheries Settlement – aquaculture being the unfinished business of the 1992 Settlement.

"I do not believe that those now calling for the moratorium to be extended are serious in that call or representative of the vast majority of marine farmers who want to be able to get on with business," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Key features of the Bill that reflect the concerns of industry include: Replacing the old dual permit system with a streamlined one-stop-shop process through regional councils under the Resource Management Act (RMA). Introducing the option for a new private plan change process where industry can promote a plan change and have preferential access to a portion of any space resulting from the private plan change.

Setting aside a 20 percent allocation of new marine farming space for Maori to address the unfinished business of the 1992 Fisheries Settlement, thus removing uncertainty. Agreeing that licences under the Marine Farming Act will be grand-parented as 20 year consents with a right of renewal if they are in Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs) when renewed. Deciding that for farms under the dual RMA/Fisheries Act regime the Fisheries permit conditions are deemed consent conditions.

Clarifying where farms are not exactly on the authorised site, a process will see the site regularised with either authorisation or the farms moving. Agreeing that all marine farms with resource consents will be deemed to be AMA unless a coastal plan prohibits aquaculture on that site.

ENDS

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