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Minister praises progress on Coastal Plan

27 October 2007

Minister praises progress on Northland Coastal Plan

Environment Minister David Benson-Pope has congratulated Northland Regional Council on its progress towards providing for regional aquaculture management, as the council releases its Regional Coastal Plan for public and industry consultation.

“Aquaculture is a valuable industry, contributing around $20 million to Northland’s economy," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"Through its aquaculture planning, Northland Regional Council is addressing economic development, environmental sustainability, and provision for settlement of Crown treaty obligations.

“The Northland Regional Council's work on revising its Coastal Plan is already being studied by other councils that may well benefit from its experience,” he said.

Mr Benson-Pope said that balancing uses and interests in our coastal areas and establishing good resource management processes was a delicate and important job.

“Central government is committed to working with the sector and other stakeholders to build a consensus to operate aquaculture in a sustainable way," he said.

Northland’s Plan change is necessary to make provision for aquaculture development in the region. The 2004 aquaculture reforms consolidated marine farm planning and management under the Resource Management Act, with New Zealand's 14 regional councils having the lead role.

Aquaculture reform

The Aquaculture Reform Act 2004 was passed in late 2004. The Act amended five existing statutes and introduced two new ones. The legislation signifies the beginning of a new regime for managing aquaculture – work that has been underway since the late 1990s.
The main features of the new regime are that:

- It creates a single process for aquaculture planning and consents through the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) - every marine farmer now holds a resource consent for his or her farm
- Existing marine farm leases and licences are being eased into the new regime by transitional provisions
- Regional and unitary councils have clearer roles and responsibilities for managing all the environmental effects of marine farming, including any effects on fisheries and other marine resources

- New marine farms can only occur in areas specifically zoned for that use, known as Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs)
- A new AMA can be initiated by regional and unitary councils, or privately
- Any proposed new AMA requires the approval of the Minister of Conservation
- Councils have the power to allocate new space within an AMA to the most efficient users
- When applications for new marine farms are assessed, their effects on fishing activity will be taken into account through a test under the Fisheries Act 1996
- When resource consents come up for review, the reform provides greater protection for existing consent holders
- More certainty is provided with Treaty claims to commercial aquaculture after 21 September 1992 being settled.
A series of five information sheets have been developed that explain different aspects of the reform: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/aquaculture/reform

ENDS

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