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Bream Bay Aquaculture Facility Welcomed

24 April 2002

Maori involvement in aquaculture is a modern expression of Maori Customary rights, the Deputy Chairman of Te Ohu Kai Moana, Craig Ellison, said today at the opening of NIWA’s Bream Bay Aquaculture Research facility near Whangarei.

Estimates are that aquaculture exports are set to grow in this country to approximately $550 million by 2010 and $1 billion by 2020. In contrast to many of our wild fisheries, which are either at maximum sustainable levels or are being rebuilt to sustainable levels, aquaculture is growing in both value and volume. The global demand for fisheries products is currently outstripping supply and that does not look like changing in the near future.

“The foundations are being laid to make sure New Zealand takes advantage of aquaculture advances and Maori are at the leading edge. Te Ohu Kai Moana is a direct supporter of aquaculture. We are making a contribution to aquaculture development in this country in a number of ways,” Mr Ellison told guests.

Two Te Ohu Kai Moana subsidiary fishing companies – Sealord Group and Moana Pacific Fisheries – are actively involved in Bream Bay. “This facility is one of many initiatives in which Moana Pacific is contributing to aquaculture in the Far North. It is also working with Ngatiwai Iwi on another initiative. Sealord Group in Nelson is working with a number of Iwi around the country developing marine farms, and also takes on a role at Bream Bay.”

Moana Pacific plans to have a close relationship with NIWA at Bream Bay. “We intend relocating our Pah Farm research operation to this site later this year and hope to use the facility to breed Kingfish fingerlings for the Peach Cove site where they will be grown to full size.”

Mr Ellison said Te Ohu Kai Moana also had a role in supporting Maori students in aquaculture. “We look to place Maori students and graduates into meaningful roles in NIWA and hope that Bream Bay becomes a desired feature of our scholarship programmes.”

Maori are at the forefront of this country’s aquaculture industry and this can be demonstrated by the number of Iwi marine farm applications underway. In terms of water space applications that were at the notification stage with various Regional Councils around the country in February this year, Maori applications made up 90 percent of this water space.

(more to come …)
“That’s a huge amount of activity in this industry,” Mr Ellison said. “The Maori response to the moratorium on new aquaculture applications for water space was a signal that Maori take aquaculture seriously. That’s why Iwi made it plainly clear earlier this year the effects of the moratorium – Maori would have been hit the worst.”

“We had much to lose – years of work, years of investment and lost opportunity. The joint venture between Moana Pacific and Ngatiwai would have been stymied for two years if the legislation had gone through unchanged,” Mr Ellison said.

Mr Ellison acknowledged the efforts the Minister of Fisheries, Hon Pete Hodgson, and the Primary Production Select Committee made in relaxing the line in the sand for the legislation, allowing those notified applications to continue on their approval path. “However, with current industry estimates that this ban could be in place between five and seven years, the industry and Government need to work together to ensure a structured and considered growth process.”

Mr Ellison said that in the process of marine farming reforms, there needed to be better recognition of the customary relationship of Maori with the marine environment. He told the gathering there also needed to be flexible tools for managing the effects of aquaculture on the marine environment, improved management of competition for coastal space, and a more principled approach for making trade-offs between competing uses.

“We will seek to ensure that Maori receive recognition of customary rights. This could mean, for example, that Aquaculture Management Areas are reserved for Maori or that Regional Councils make provision for Iwi involvement in this industry.

“Te Ohu Kai Moana thinks it essential that AMAs are designed in a way to encourage innovation. There is a danger that the “one size fits all” approach will create barriers for new initiatives that involve innovation and experimentation,” he said.

Mr Ellison said that, all these challenges aside, Te Ohu Kai Moana believed the outlook for aquaculture was extremely positive. “That’s why we are pleased to be associated with today’s opening. Bream Bay will provide valuable research to keep Maori and Aotearoa at the top of this growing industry. Aquaculture is growing in both volume and value and New Zealand is geographically well-placed to take advantage of this.”

ENDS

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