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Exciting opportunities for aquaculture in Bay

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Exciting opportunities for aquaculture in Bay
For immediate release: Monday 16 October 2006

The Bay of Plenty’s coastal waters offer “encouraging and exciting opportunities” for marine farming, according to the results of a million dollar research project by Environment Bay of Plenty.

However, the regional council’s chairman John Cronin says sign off on aquaculture zones is still several years away.

Environment Bay of Plenty councillors received the project’s final reports at a full council meeting on Thursday 12 October. They then agreed to release all reports and maps to the public for the first time.

“The results clearly show that there is scope for aquaculture in the Bay of Plenty. This has economic implications for the regional community,” Mr Cronin says.

Marine farming is a fast-growing and lucrative industry in New Zealand. As a way to control the unanticipated boom, the Government put a moratorium on aquaculture in 2002. This gave it time to develop legislation that gave New Zealand’s regional councils the responsibility to create zones suitable for aquaculture. Any activity would be prohibited outside these areas.

Environment Bay of Plenty chose to carry out very in-depth research, Mr Cronin recalls. “From the beginning, we realised we needed to put the effort in because we couldn’t afford to get it wrong. It’s been worth the time and cost. It’s ground-breaking research that is leading the way for the country. We now have an extremely solid foundation of knowledge on which to base future decisions about the sustainable development of an aquaculture industry – without compromising our coastal environment.”

One strand of the project involved working closely with the community to map areas likely to be unsuitable for marine farming. These included commercial navigation routes, fishing areas, sites of significance to tangata whenua, travel pathways for whales and other mammals, and sites of ecological value.

The other strand was an in-depth scientific study of the region’s coastal waters, including currents, temperature and plankton. It helped define how much aquaculture can occur without affecting the local ecology or kaimoana.

Now, with research completed, the council can begin to consider locations for Aquaculture Management Areas. It will be working with central government, iwi, interest groups and the aquaculture industry to develop these.

ENDS

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