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Greenshell Mussels On The Menu For Select Cmmttee.

14 October, 2004

MEDIA RELEASE
From the New Zealand Mussel Industry Council Inc.

Greenshell Mussels on the Menu for Select Committee

The Primary Production Select Committee will hear submissions on the Aquaculture Reform Bill in Blenheim this week.

'We will be taking a clear message to the Select Committee', said Rebecca Clarkson, New Zealand Mussel Industry Council Executive Officer.

'The Greenshell mussel industry has a great future if managed well under the Resource Management Act. The environmental impacts from mussel farming are 'negligible', a point also recently made by the co-leader of the Green Party, Jeanette Fitzsimons in her speech to the House on the Aquaculture Reform Bill', said Ms Clarkson.

'There are 600 Greenshell mussel farms around New Zealand, farming just 4,700 hectares of water space but contributing significantly to rural regional economies. From those 4,700 hectares the industry creates more than $200 million in wealth for New Zealand and over 2000 jobs. This is significantly greater value per hectare than other primary production industries.'

'The New Zealand Mussel Industry Council supports transitional provisions in the Bill which improve security for existing mussel farmers, by transferring licences into coastal permits and creating aquaculture management areas for existing farms. But if mussel farmers are to invest more capital into their farms in the future, they need better access to the water space and less complex legislation'.

'This is not about privatising the coastline; it's about high costs and fairness. Over 70% of Greenshell mussel farmers run small businesses, often with unpaid family members handling the paperwork and a handful of staff'.

'In its current form the Bill transfers too high a burden onto mussel farmers and the 'private plan change' proposed under the RMA is beyond the reach of many' said Ms Clarkson.

'There is also significant scope for more Maori involvement in the industry, with many innovations already coming from Iwi owned companies. But if the industry can't afford the costs involved in developing new aquaculture ventures, or planning restrictions under the RMA are too prohibitive, it's hard to see how settlement promises will be achieved under the Bill'.

'We are asking for cooperation between central and local government so that new coastal aquaculture developments are treated as part of, not separate from, comprehensive management strategies for sustainability of coastal ecosystems, fisheries and local communities'

'This Bill isn't going to achieve this without amendment', she said.

Ends.

The NZ Mussel Industry Council (Inc) represents the NZ Greenshell mussel industry on national issues including trademark protection, patent protection, marketing, property rights, environmental management practices, law reform, and research and technology. For 2003, the mussel industry's export sales were NZ FOB NZ$133 million, with the single largest market being the United States of America. NZMIC will be making a submission to the Select Committee today at 9 am


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