Major boost for Waikato aquaculture development
20 March 2008 Media Release
Major boost for Waikato aquaculture development
A significant step has been taken towards the development of a new marine farming zone in Wilson Bay announced Minister of Conservation Steve Chadwick and Environment Waikato chairman Peter Buckley today.
“The growing $35 million aquaculture industry on the Coromandel has been given a major boost” said Steve Chadwick.
The two interim aquaculture management areas (AMAs) in the Firth of Thames were declared by an Order in Council. The new Wilson Bay Marine Farming Zone is 1.5 kilometres off the coast of Kereta, around 5 kilometres south of the entrance to Coromandel Harbour.
The Government is encouraging the use of AMAs to make better use of existing aquaculture space and to support sustainable aquaculture practices.
“Declaring these areas to be interim AMAs is another step forward in implementing the aquaculture reforms” said Ms Chadwick.
Mr Buckley said: “My council is pleased progress has been made towards allowing further aquaculture development that will also ensure the interests of residents, boaties, fishers and tourists, as well as marine mammals and other wildlife, are looked after.”
Prior to the moratorium, aquaculture in one of the Wilson Bay sites had already become well established. Marine farming contributed $27 million annually to the regional economy, employed the equivalent of 270 full-time staff and paid $9.6 million in wages and salaries, a 2007 Environment Waikato report said. About another 100 full-time jobs were related to the industry.
“This is a good outcome for Environment Waikato, given their hard work to develop the aquaculture zone in Wilson Bay before the new legislation came into force” said Ms Chadwick.
The next step is for Environment Waikato to ask the Ministry of Fisheries to consider any effects of the interim aquaculture management areas on fishing and fisheries resources and impose any necessary reservations.
As a result of increasing competition for space for aquaculture development the Government agreed to reform aquaculture management and put in place a moratorium on new applications in 2001. The moratorium allowed the aquaculture reforms to be enacted and for councils to plan for the changes without having to deal with large numbers of new applications at the same time.
The aquaculture legislation that ended the aquaculture moratorium restricts aquaculture to aquaculture management areas. Those aquaculture management areas will be established in the regional coastal plan. Section 36 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 provides an exception, namely that an interim aquaculture management area may be declared where a Council has already established provisions in its regional coastal plan to zone and manage aquaculture, and those provisions adequately address the adverse effects on the environment (other than on fishing and fisheries resources) of aquaculture activities and occupations.
The declaration of an interim aquaculture management area is the first step in a transitional process that also involves the Ministry of Fisheries.
The declaration of interim aquaculture management areas in Waikato will be followed by Ministry of Fisheries consideration, under sections 38 to 41 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act, of the effect that the interim aquaculture management areas would have on the activity of fishing and the sustainability of fisheries resources (an “aquaculture decision”). In making an aquaculture decision the chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries can make a “determination” or a “reservation”. If the decision is a determination, the interim aquaculture management areas can then become “fully fledged” aquaculture management areas under section 44 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act.
The Wilson Bay interim AMA is in two parts:
1. Area A is the area closer to shore. Area A is a rectangular area of 1400.44ha. Within Area A are 171 marine farm blocks. All of these blocks in Area A are allocated (under the old aquaculture law), however, not all of the blocks have established farms on them yet.
2. Each of these separate marine farm blocks (690ha in total) have been excluded from the interim aquaculture management area as they are already deemed aquaculture management areas under s45(3) of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act.
3. The interim aquaculture management area in Area A will therefore be the area between and around the separate marine farm blocks. The purpose of declaring this area to be an interim aquaculture management area is to provide flexibility about location, including possible amalgamation, when the consents supporting the existing marine farms require reconsideration.
4. Area B is the area further from shore. Area B is 1072.56ha of which, under the current rules of the Waikato regional coastal plan 520ha will be farmable space. There are no existing marine farms in Area B but there are existing applications for spat catching.
Once the interim aquaculture management area becomes an aquaculture management area (subject to any conditions or reservations imposed by the chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries aquaculture decision following the UAE test), these applications can be progressed and aquaculture development could occur in accordance with the aquaculture provisions in the regional coastal plan.
What is involved in the settlement requirements and allocation to Maori?
The farmable space in Area A is all allocated already under previous legislative regimes (either Licences under the Marine Farming Act 1971 or Marine Farming permits under the Fisheries Act 1983). Those that were approved between September 1992 and 31 December 2004 come within the definition of pre-commencement space, and the government is responsible for addressing the pre-commencement space obligation.
All of the farmable space in area B is subject to spat catching applications that were lodged but not notified before the moratorium. These applications are generally referred to as section 150B(2) “frozen” applications. They can only be processed if an AMA is established over the area to which they relate in an operative regional coastal plan. So in this case, the “frozen” applications in Area B can only be processed once Mfish has made an aquaculture decision (UAE test) and the council has amended its coastal plan to reflect that decision. These section 150B(2) “frozen” applications are for new space and will be subject to a 20% allocation of representative space to iwi.
What does an interim AMA mean?
Means a coastal marine area described in an Order in
under section 150C of the RMA or section 36 of Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004. The ability to declare an area an interim aquaculture management area is a transitional provision. It was intended to recognise that some councils may have already established provisions in their regional coastal plan to zone and manage aquaculture. Provided those provisions adequately address the adverse effects on the environment (other than on fishing and fisheries resources) of aquaculture activities and occupations, the interim AMA process is a way of having those provisions approved without requiring the council to start from scratch and notify a plan change in accordance with the First Schedule of the RMA (as the new regime now requires to establish a new AMA).
How will the space be allocated?
All the space is either already allocated under previous legislative regimes (Area A) or already subject to existing spat catching applications (Area B) that were lodged but not notified before the moratorium. These applications in Area B are all section 150B(2) “frozen” applications”. They can only be processed if an AMA is established over the area to which they relate in an operative regional coastal plan. So in this case, the “frozen” applications in Area B can only be processed once Mfish has made an aquaculture decision (UAE test) and the council has amended its coastal plan to reflect that decision.
Are there any other plan changes around New Zealand like this that were affected moratorium?
This is the second exercise of the Minister of Conservation’s powers under section 36 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 to recommend the making of an Order in Council that would declare a coastal marine area described in the Order to be an interim aquaculture management area. The first involved the making of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) (Golden Bay and Tasman Bay Interim Aquaculture Management Areas) Order 2005.
This transitional power replaced the power the Minister of Conservation had during the aquaculture moratorium to recommend the early expiry of the moratorium for specified areas in the coastal marine area. In 2004 the moratorium was uplifted for specified areas in Kaipara Harbour, Auckland and Pegasus Bay, Canterbury.
What does the UAE involve and how long will it take?
The UAE is undertaken by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries. It assesses whether the proposed aquaculture areas will have an undue adverse effect on fishing and fisheries resources. That is, commercial, recreational and customary fishing, and the wider ecosystem. The legislation states that Mfish has 6 months to undertake the UAE, however, if more information is required, this timeframe can be extended.
Who makes the final approval of the AMA?
In the case of an interim AMA, effectively the chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries does with the UAE test. On receipt of the UAE test the Regional Council must amend its regional coastal plan in the manner set out in the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 to give effect to the chief executive’s decision. For an AMA prepared under the new legislation, the Minister of Conservation is the final decision maker on a change to the regional coastal plan).
Are any of these decisions subject to appeal or judicial review?
Yes there is opportunity to challenge the aquaculture decision (UAE). There is a 3 month window (after the decision has been publicly notified) for identified parties to appeal to the High Court following an aquaculture decision (s42 Aquaculture Reform (Repeal and Transitional Provisions) Act) and the same timeframe to seek a judicial review (s43).