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Anderton: Aquaculture NZ conference

Hon Jim Anderton


Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education
24 July 2008 Speech


Aquaculture NZ conference
Blenheim

Good morning and welcome to the first New Zealand Aquaculture Conference.

I particularly welcome our overseas visitors, some of whom have travelled long distances to share with us their experience, knowledge and insight as you grapple with the challenging issues on the conference agenda.

Before I begin, I would like to recognise this is an industry built on the shoulders of pioneers – people with passion and foresight, not afraid to roll up their sleeves and give something new a go.

One such person is Jim Jessep, who I was pleased to see has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his work in mussel farming and the community.

Congratulations, Jim.

The primary industries in New Zealand have been, from the very beginning of our history, masters at succeeding in the international marketplace.

New Zealand has earned, through hard graft, innovation and ingenuity, a world-wide reputation for excellence in our primary products, and none more so than those from the sea.

You will not find anyone more positive about the future of New Zealand aquaculture than I am.

There has never been a time when reliable, high quality food production and supply has been so prominent in the minds of customers with whom our trading future is linked.

We should be confident and focused on our potential as an industry. When we are confident, the benefits almost create themselves.

It is easy to get behind an industry sure of itself, with a vision, direction and energy.

It is easy for people to have hope and a sense of purpose when there are growing opportunities.

And on top of this, we have taken the strategic decision – government and industry – to work in partnership to unlock the full potential of aquaculture.

Just over a year ago, the Prime Minister and I launched your new stakeholder company Aquaculture New Zealand.

We made a firm commitment to help your industry achieve its goal to be a billion dollar business by 2025.

Mike Burrell talked about the work Aquaculture New Zealand is doing to implement your sector strategy and establish a strong foundation for future growth.

Having a national voice is important.

This has been true across the primary sector. For example, Horticulture New Zealand and New Zealand Merino have been essential in taking their respective industries to the next level.

Aquaculture New Zealand brings cohesion, stability and marketing direction to the industry.

It allows you to coordinate efforts in areas like research, environmental standards and the building of strong relationships with the stakeholders important to your future growth.

Aquaculture is an industry that has huge potential for sustainable growth.

It builds on New Zealand’s competitive advantage of being one of the most efficient food producers in the world.

It is an industry that can drive economic development in our regions and small coastal towns. It is an industry important to Maori.

To realise the economic potential of aquaculture you need a long term strategic approach to building value.

You need market information and a market development strategy.

You need a commitment to research and innovation and you need to accept that sustainability is now part of doing business.

Government has fronted up with $6.5 million over the next four years to help you develop a marketing strategy.

This is important work, and I’m pleased to hear that good progress is being made in this area.

The world population is forecast to grow by 23 percent by 2025 to 8 billion people. Global food production is forecast to increase by 50 percent by 2025.

With new emerging affluent populations and increased demand for high-quality protein, it will be more important than ever to understand your markets, what they want to buy, what they are willing to pay.

It will be important to understand the differing consumer values, for example – nutritional values and environmental values.

In particular, the need to satisfy the consumer’s demand for ‘convenience type’ products for those people with increasing pressures on their time.

You need to know your markets, your strengths over your international competitors, and leverage advantage from those strengths.

One of our main strengths is that people around the world like and respect New Zealand. They like our drive, they like our culture, they like our innovation, and they like our clean-green image and desire for sustainable development. So we must take advantage of the New Zealand Brand in selling our produce.

A challenge for your industry will be how to work cooperatively to develop markets.

I am sure you can think of many examples where one New Zealand company has undercut another.

Industries that collaborate can focus on the long term, instead of competing among themselves.

Research and innovation is vital for this.

We have to be one step ahead of our competitors in the global market to remain competitive.

Being at the forefront of technology and best practice will help increase the value we obtain from existing species.

Even more importantly, it will spur the development of new and high-value species, technologies and products.

I congratulate you on the work you have done to develop a research strategy and on recognising that research needs to be closely aligned with market development.

There is no point spending a lot of money to research a new fish that the market simply does not want.

The Government is doing its part to support and promote innovation too. I’m proud that in March we launched the New Zealand Fast Forward fund to help boost innovation in the primary sector.

The $700 million fund is the single biggest boost to innovation in New Zealand history and a true display of collaboration between government and the private sector.

New Zealand Fast Forward will deliver up to one billion dollars over 10 to 15 years from the Government, matched with another one billion dollars from the pastoral and food industries, working in partnership to develop projects that will be crucial to maintaining our leadership in global food production. That means an additional $2 billion of investment in research and development of New Zealand’s food production and processing industries - the largest investment for any industry sector in New Zealand’s history.

I want the aquaculture industry to benefit from New Zealand Fast Forward and I am pleased that you are keen to accept this challenge.

Today I am delighted to hear that Aquaculture New Zealand has signed up to be one of the cornerstone investor groups in New Zealand Fast Forward – this is fantastic news, and another demonstration of your industry’s commitment to innovation - congratulations.

I am very confident that the industry’s participation in aquaculture will help drive the innovation and research needed to develop our aquaculture industry.

A commitment to research is a long-term strategy and the benefits are not always immediate.

But, the long-term pay-off from investing in research can be enormous.

Like it or not, sustainability is now a normal part of doing business and is not a trend that will be going away anytime soon.

Many of you will know first hand that markets are increasingly asking questions about environmental performance.

In New Zealand, we are lucky that we have some of the best managed aquaculture in the world, backed up by good research.

When the World Wide Fund for Nature came earlier this year to talk about the development of international environmental standards for aquaculture they were impressed by what we do.

We simply need to tell our sustainability story.

Government has set up a number of initiatives to help you tell this story:

One, the new aquaculture website shows how the establishment processes help ensure sustainable aquaculture development.

Two, the annual $1 million contestable fund helps seafood companies (both aquaculture and wild fishing) with up to 50 percent of the costs of obtaining independent third party certification and other assessments, and

Three, Aquaculture New Zealand is helping fund development of a greenhouse gas footprint methodology for the aquaculture sector.

Environmental certification will be an important part of your market development strategy.

Some of the money the Government has provided will be used to investigate the best ways to demonstrate your environmental performance.

It will be interesting to hear later today about the work Peter Marshall’s company has been doing on environmental certification with the Irish aquaculture industry.

Sustainability, however, is not just about access to international markets; it is a story we also need to tell at home to help gain the support of New Zealanders for the growth of the aquaculture industry.

Whatever the law for developing new aquaculture space is, if people object to your applications the process will take longer.

So we need to build public confidence that aquaculture farmers are good stewards of our coasts.

We will never convince everyone that aquaculture is a good idea, but we can help ensure decisions are based on accurate information and that the benefits of aquaculture are clearly understood.

A lot of work is underway to provide information to the public and councils on the benefits and effects of aquaculture.

And helping children understand aquaculture is vital because the kids of today will be the consumers, scientists, farmers, decision makers and industry leaders of tomorrow.

The Aquaculture in Action school fact sheets my colleague Parekura Horomia and I recently launched – in English and te Reo – is a brilliant resource for schools on the aquaculture industry.

Your industry must take up the lead to build public support.

You have a good story to tell and Government will support you in telling it.

Both as a major player in the industry, and as Tangata Whenua, Maori will play a vital part in shaping the future of aquaculture in New Zealand.

The industry provides Maori with a number of opportunities to strengthen existing involvement, encourage new initiatives, and expand their economic base.

The participation of Maori, through a durable and long term partnership, is critical to the industry’s future success.

I am now consulting to develop a road map on how the Crown will meet its aquaculture settlement obligations by 2014.

The plan suggests options to better deliver settlement assets to iwi.

This is difficult and complex but with goodwill on all sides, I am sure we will succeed.

Another issue for the industry is the need for additional space to grow.

I know there has been some frustration about issues in the development of aquaculture legislation.

I share it. The Government wants to see development pushed along.

Some issues affecting the future of aquaculture arose from an decision of the Environment Court in 2006.

The result created an unintended situation where applications for aquaculture activities were out of sync with the definition of aquaculture management areas in regional coastal plans.

This was not the intention when the aquaculture legislation was first developed.

Although the current aquaculture law has good components, government, industry and councils share concerns that the costs, time and complexity of the planning process constrain sustainable growth.

We are putting emphasis on completing the remaining outstanding old law applications and completing the interim AMAs in Tasman and Waikato.

Since the aquaculture moratorium started in 2001, the total space available for aquaculture activities has increased by 56 percent.

In the past three and a half years alone, since the new law was introduced, the Ministry of Fisheries has issued 2482 hectares of new aquaculture space in productive growing areas.

MFish still has 12,009 hectares of space to process and I want the majority of these decisions completed this year.

Second, we have provided in this year’s Budget $2.6 million for the Environment Ministry to lead some priority projects to facilitate aquaculture planning in the regions.

These projects were developed following extensive consultation with Aquaculture New Zealand, local councils and other interested parties.

They include the option of government leading plan changes to develop new AMAs and plan changes to provide more flexibility to develop new species within existing space.

Finally, Cabinet has directed officials to report back in February next year on options to improve the aquaculture law, including considering major change.

Wayne McNee, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries, will talk to you in more detail about the process for this review.

We are now in a good position to work collaboratively to ensure we have a law for aquaculture in New Zealand that will reduce barriers to delivering sustainable growth.

We have come a long way in the past year since we established Aquaculture New Zealand.

You have a forward thinking sector strategy and plan for implementing that strategy, and you have the firm, committed support of Government.

We are entering a new era of sustainable growth toward realising the industry’s true potential, and to get to that goal of being a one billion dollar business by 2025.

There are many challenges ahead, but by working together, we will succeed.

Thank you and enjoy your conference.

ENDS

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