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Brakes set to come off marine farming industry

Brakes set to come off marine farming industry

With aquaculture's place in the marine environment properly defined, the brakes are set to come off the industry, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope has welcomed the recommendations of the select committee that has examined the Aquaculture Reform Bill, saying a clear path has been established for future development of the industry.

The aquaculture industry has been held up under a moratorium for a number of years after an overload of marine farming applications left councils and communities struggling to assess projects and to keep up with demand.

The Aquaculture Reform Bill creates a new regime designed to allow the rational development of the industry, while ensuring the impacts of new aquaculture activity can be fully considered in relation to all coastal marine users.

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

"There was a need for change. We listened hard to industry concerns and have responded, providing them with greater flexibility, certainty and fairness. 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 addresses 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."

Mr Benson-Pope says the return of the Bill from the select committee sees it on schedule to be passed before Christmas in time for the aquaculture moratorium to be lifted on December 31.

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