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Aquaculture moratorium strongly supported

February 21, 2002- Wellington


Aquaculture moratorium strongly supported

The proposed aquaculture moratorium is a sound initiative to help promote sustainable management and protect the public interest in the coast, the Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

Forest and Bird today presented its submissions supporting the controversial Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Bill to Parliament's Primary Production Select Committee.

"The current grab for sea space is not sustainable. Regional councils and communities are grappling with applications for more than 35,000 ha of coastal water, more than ten times the area now used for marine farming in New Zealand, " Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

"The coast is public open space. Opposition to the moratorium by prospective and existing marine farmers ignores the fact that the sea is common property not private property. There is a strong public interest in protecting its wild character and recreational, landscape, and ecological values."

"Traditionally marine farms have averaged 3 ha in size. There have been no trials and little or no research on the impacts of the large 100 ha to 10,600 ha offshore marine farms now being proposed. They have the potential for large scale ecological effects."

"The moratorium will provide a much needed breathing space for further research on marine farming's impacts and for regional councils to better regulate the industry's development."

"It makes more sense to identify areas where aquaculture is appropriate than for the current open slather to continue."

"The Bill is a sensible initiative to address the problems created by the aquaculture goldrush."

Forest and Bird looks forward to the early passing of this Bill.

Notes for media

Phytoplankton (microscopic plants that live in seawater) are the basic building blocks that nourish the whole coastal and marine food web. Reducing nutrient levels over hundreds of hectares of sea by mussels "grazing" on phytoplankton has unknown effects on other species and the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems.

Other potential impacts include marine farms preventing marine mammals using important feeding or breeding areas, shelldrop and other debris from the farms smothering benthic (bottom living) communities, and a dramatic change in populations of predatory species such as starfish from an artificially increased food supply. Christine Andricksen Secretary to Conservation Manager Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc Central Office 172 Taranaki Street PO Box 631 WELLINGTON

Contact: Eugenie Sage, Field Officer (03) 3666 317 (wk) or (03) 942 1251 (home) or Barry Weeber, Senior Researcher Tel. 04 385 7374 (wk) 025-622-7369 (home)

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