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Aquaculture moratorium useful but too short

Wednesday, November 28, 2001 - Wellington

Aquaculture moratorium useful but too short

Government's proposals to control the current marine farming gold rush are largely welcomed, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

Fisheries Minister, Pete Hodgson, today outlined the new aquaculture legislation to be introduced next year. This includes a two year moratorium on new marine farming applications which will take effect from 28 November.

"The aquaculture moratorium will provide a welcome breathing space for regional councils to plan for the orderly development of aquaculture," Forest and Bird Field Officer, Eugenie Sage, says.

"The current grab for sea space for marine farming has put a heavy burden on individuals and communities in defending important coastal areas, such as the Kaipara Harbour, Bay of Plenty, Banks Peninsula, and Jackson Bay, against an invasion of marine farms."

"A longer moratorium will be needed to allow regional councils to do thorough ecological research and public consultation. This is needed to identify areas where aquaculture can occur with the least impacts on coastal landscapes, recreation, wildlife and habitat values," Ms Sage says. "Two years is not long enough for many councils."

"The Ministry of Fisheries' advocacy role under the new legislation should be extended to include the impacts of marine farming on marine ecosystems and fisheries, and not just on the interests of fishers as the Minister proposes.

"The Ministry has a considerable scientific research and technical capacity which can help provide regional councils with the ecological and technical information they need, but often lack in making decisions on aquaculture activities," Ms Sage said. "It is high time the Ministry of Fisheries played a helpful role under the Resource Management Act."

"Currently, quota holders interests are in the catching of fish, not the occupation of space. Forest and Bird is concerned that the Government's proposed aquaculture legislation could extend and entrench the position of fisheries' quota holders in relation to public space."

Note: There is limited information about how coastal and marine ecosystems function and a lack of marine biologists and coastal specialists on the staff of regional councils to fill these gaps in two years. Research into phytoplankton or nutrient levels, wind and wave patterns and tidal currents can also require monitoring over at least a year and often several years to determine seasonal changes.

Contact: Eugenie Sage, Regional Field Officer, Tel. 03 3666 317
(wk), 03 3371 251 (home); Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher, Tel. 04 385 73
(wk), (025) 622-7369,
Sarah Gibbs, Regional Field Officer, Tel. 09 303 3079 (wk); (025)
205 7042.

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