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Parliament right to fix problem for marine farmers

Hon Jim Anderton

Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader


10 December 2009
Media Statement

Parliament right to fix problem for marine farmers

“Parliament’s select committee was right to amend the Aquaculture Bill so that a co-operative of marine famers can continue to farm shell fish in the Coromandel, as they have been doing since 1983,” says MP for Wigram and Progressive party leader Jim Anderton.

He was referring to the recent decision by Parliament’s primary production select committee to introduce a specific amendment and fix a legal anomaly so that the Coromandel Marine Farmers Association can continue to farm.

The Association represents a co-operative of marine farmers who farm under a single permit. Changes to legislation governing aquaculture in 2004 had created a unique problem in the Coromandel area which has since been stuck in the courts. The Association was initially established in 1983, and subsequently granted a Marine Farming Permit in 1998. Since then the area has been used collectively by marine farmers in the area.

In 1999 Environment Waikato (the regional council) made changes to the marine farming provisions of its coastal plan, and at that time questions were raised as to whether the site had been lawfully authorised.

Since then, the issue has stayed in the courts, making it impossible for the marine farmers to apply for new permits under the 2004 aquaculture legislation.

“The select committee recognised that the validity of the initial permit given over ten years ago could remain an issue for the courts indefinitely, making it impossible for the farmers to apply for a new permit under a new regulatory system.

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“I introduced the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill in 2004 to get rid of these sorts of inconsistencies in the system. That was the spirit behind the bill.

“We’re likely to see more marine farms in New Zealand. It’s a growth area for the New Zealand economy and we should be supporting it. My Bill recognised also that commercial aquaculture must always be done in balance with the needs of boaties and other users of our coastal areas. There is a benefit to growing the aquaculture sector; the marine farmers depend on clean high-quality water, which is often an incentive to clean up pollutants coming into the waterways.

“Russell Norman and the Greens have got it wrong when they accuse the select committee of favouring an individual by amending my Bill. There is a general principle here, which is to use the parliamentary system to fix a problem that isn’t being solved any other way, so that these farmers can continue to work,” says Jim Anderton

ENDS

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