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Draft aquaculture strategy sets vision for doubled growth

A draft marine aquaculture strategy developed by Waikato Regional Council with industry input sets a vision which will see the doubling of export growth in less than 10 years.

The Strategy and Policy Committee endorsed the draft document for further consultation with iwi and key stakeholders when it met this month.

A report to the committee said the Waikato region is a significant player in the aquaculture industry, contributing 12 per cent of New Zealand’s aquaculture GDP.

The industry is poised for considerable growth with marine farms in the region occupying both the Coromandel Peninsula and parts of the west coast, providing an opportunity for the region to become world renowned for its aquaculture sector, the report said. However, with this opportunity also comes the need to ensure a durable future.

That’s where the strategy comes in, setting a vision for stakeholders to create a sustainable, resilient and innovative future for the industry and the region, with a doubling of export growth by 2031.

The strategy provides guidance on both regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms to help achieve this goal of growing an aquaculture industry that produces highly valued seafood while at the same time being mindful of the region’s environment, local communities and mana whenua.

The council is also seeking feedback from iwi and key stakeholders on the revised Waikato Regional Coastal Plan.

The new plan is in draft and addressed issues and gaps Waikato communities have identified with the operative coastal plan, which is a number of years old and no longer meeting the requirements of the environment, communities or industry. The draft plan provides clear policies and rules for managing activities that occur within the coastal marine area.

Strategy and Policy Committee chair Pamela Storey said: “Councillors have had a number of workshops with staff to ensure a diverse range of views and experiences are incorporated into both the marine aquaculture strategy and the coastal plan.

“The strategy in particular outlines how marine aquaculture can become a more productive industry that further supports regional prosperity and ensures it leads in environmental practices and is protected from the risks of pests, disease and climate change,” she said.

“There are more people living, working and playing on or around our region’s beaches, which are also home to a diverse range of native plants and animals, so it’s important we balance how we protect our environment with the needs of communities.”

The coastal plan is the rulebook for the coastal marine area – the wet area below high tide. It is only a part of the council’s response to the sustainable management of our coasts and it is supported by the Waikato Regional Policy Statement, Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan and national legislation and policy, including the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

The council anticipates a full draft of the coastal plan to be notified for public submission in early 2023. More information on the review can be found at waikatoregion.govt.nz/rcp-review.

Any changes made to either the draft coastal plan or the strategy as a result of engagement will be brought back before the committee.

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