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Maori, Fishing Industry To Exercise Muscle

Maori, Fishing Industry To Exercise Muscle

The Crown will destabilise ongoing investment in the aquaculture industry by ignoring widespread calls among Iwi and the New Zealand fishing industry to settle Maori issues, a leading group of specialist fisheries representatives said today.

Tutekawa Wyllie, the convenor of the Aquaculture Steering Group, which is made up of Iwi (including claimants to the Waitangi Tribunal with an interest in the aquaculture law reform process) and Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission representatives, said that Maori and the fishing industry have agreed to work together to encourage the Government to resolve this issue.

“The argument over water space for aquaculture is an issue of common concern to everyone in New Zealand. It concerns property rights and the economic future of the aquaculture industry.”

Members of the fishing industry, at the Seafood Week Conference in Auckland recently, unanimously passed a remit calling for a collective position to be taken to the Government. “Maori and industry are working together on ways to resolve this issue as both parties know how destabilising it will be if it isn’t resolved in the near future,” Mr Wyllie said.

“Maori were unanimous at recent hui across the country in their calls for the Government to engage with us and negotiate over our interest in marine farming that the reforms propose to take away. We had hoped that after the Tribunal’s report, the Minister would have done this as quickly as he called the consultation hui,” Mr Wyllie said.

Mr Wyllie said that if no engagement occurred in the near future, the Government would leave itself open to greater claims to the marine farming environment from Maori “The Crown has acknowledged the Waitangi Tribunal report, it has met with Maori over the reforms, but yet the Minister of Fisheries remains silent on the issue.”

In its Ahu Moana report, released in April, the Waitangi Tribunal found that Maori had not been adequately consulted over proposed reforms for aquaculture and marine farming and that the Crown must investigate and address the nature and extent of Maori interest in marine farming to ensure appropriate participation.

The Aquaculture Steering Group is being facilitated by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.

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