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Aquaculture Moratorium Defeats The Purpose

The adverse effects of the Government's proposed moratorium on water space applications far outweigh the benefits, the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission (Te Ohu Kai Moana) told the Primary Production Select Committee today.

Te Ohu Kai Moana Senior Policy Analyst Kirsty Woods told the Committee that Maori had extensive interests in aquaculture, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an industry estimated to bring more than $1 billion in export earnings by 2020.

Te Ohu Kai Moana is seeking to have the date of the moratorium moved to enable applications filed as at 28 November 2001 to be excluded from the moratorium. Kirsty Woods said that, at the very least, the Select Committee must recommend that notified applications be allowed to continue to be processed. Any such applications would still be subject to the same tests the Government proposes in the longer term.

Current estimates are that Maori - either through joint ventures or solely Iwi initiatives - are involved in about 90 percent of the water space in notified applications that are affected by the moratorium.

"The Commission does not believe that the effects of this Bill on Iwi and Maori can be justified. The Government is using a sledge hammer to crack a nut, and we believe that there are more appropriate ways of solving the problem the Bill is designed to address," Ms Woods said today.

Te Ohu Kai Moana told the Select Committee that the Treaty of Waitangi provided a framework for managing the interests of citizens through a system of government, while recognising Maori collective and individual rights and the right to develop.

Ms Woods told the Committee: "We do not believe that the problem is as severe as has been suggested. We believe the potential benefits of the Bill are insufficient to justify its adverse impact on Maori and much needed regional economic development. The Bill has a significant effect on Maori interests, including customary rights, with no promise of any specific provision for Maori in the longer term reforms."

"We believe it is the duty of the Select Committee to ensure the Crown meets its obligations under the Treaty and recommend to Government that applications lodged at 28 November 2001 be allowed to continue," Ms Woods told the Committee.

"For any applications gaining approval through the full set of regulations currently in place, there would be no unacceptable environmental effects, only social and economic gains - both to Iwi and the nation," Ms Woods said.


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