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Anarchy can't rule marine farming industry future

Minister: Anarchy can't rule future of marine farming industry

Marine farming anarchy will not be allowed to jeopardise New Zealand's valuable coastal environment or the marine farming industry, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says he is surprised many marine farmers are demanding virtually unconstrained free use of marine space without any of the normal checks and balances that land-based businesses would expect.

"The goal of maintaining a clean and healthy marine environment, as well as balancing the interests of other marine and coastal users cannot be labelled a barrier to development," says Mr Benson-Pope. "These are the standards New Zealanders would expect to see a responsible Government put in place to protect New Zealand's pristine marine environment and our 'clean and green' competitive advantage.

"The oceans within our Exclusive Economic Zone belong to the people of New Zealand. To those who feel they should be allowed to privatise and own that space, this Government says forget it.

"The moratorium will end on 31 December. It is in everyone's interest that good processes are in place when that happens. The Aquaculture Reform Bill secures a sustainable future for New Zealand’s aquaculture. It balances economic development, environmental sustainability, Treaty obligations and community concerns.

"It is nonsense to talk about an underlying prohibition of aquaculture. The orderly development of the industry is to be facilitated through Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs), in exactly the same way land-based businesses are regulated by planning zones.

"Land-based industries don't complain that they can't build factories on residential or park land. They get on with business and certainly don't claim they are being treated unfairly. If marine farmers are unable to appreciate the potential and benefits unlocked by the Aquaculture Reform Bill, then I'm sure there will be many others currently sitting on the sidelines who can see the longterm opportunities being created."

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 the 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 in that site.

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