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Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill - Te Ururoa Flavell

Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill : Third Reading
Thursday 18 August 2011; 8.15pm
Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki

I am pleased to stand and talk to this Bill simply because today has been a rather negative day and I am pleased to say we are right behind this Bill 100 percent.

The Maori Party is pleased to come to this Bill, in fact thrilled after the debate that has been had today, to come to a Bill we can support.

We totally support the update to the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill to smooth the pathway to settlement of Maori commercial aquaculture claims.

We support also the opportunity the Bill will provide allow trial farming of high-value finfish in a Coromandel Marine Farming Zone.

The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill aims to simplify the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities process by removing the need to set up Aquaculture Management Areas.

The Bill does this by making amendments to the
• Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004;
• Fisheries Act 1996;
• Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004;
• Resource Management Act 1991.

This is what it does – but what I want to say is to place on record our congratulations to the Minister Heatley from Whangarei for the honourable way in which this important legislation has been developed.

The Maori Party has been actively engaged with the Minister on this bill, and we have been proud of the way in which the Iwi Leaders have also been actively engaged in the process of drafting.

Iwi Leaders Advisors worked with Ministry of Fish officials in drafting the two amendments, and we believe the legislation is much better for their input. The amendment drafted in consultation with aquaculture iwi leaders, offers iwi and the Crown more flexibility in negotiating settlements under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004.

Mr Speaker, the first amendment, focused on Treaty settlements and confirms forecasting, gazetting and consenting of regional aquaculture space for iwi – the 20% of the total of aquaculture space.

The second amendment was focused around Undue Adverse Effects Tests. What was proposed then during the committee of the whole house was that if there is an "impact" on customary/recreation space, then aquaculture space cannot proceed.

With commercial space the threshold for support from fisheries permit holders required drops from 100% to 75%.

This second amendment is basically very technical in nature. It changes the test and facilitates agreements between aquaculture applicants and fishing quota owners.

When 75% of the fishing quota owners who are impacted upon by aquaculture agree to a proposed aquaculture agreement, then the applicant can apply to High Court to have the remaining quota owners bound as well.

It concerns planning and consenting.

Finally, there is a proposed binding arbitration process for mediation. The Bill requires negotiation and agreement, what might be seen as "forced arbitration". The Iwi Leaders are comfortable with this threshold change and arbitration mechanism.

Mr Speaker, I cannot under-estimate the importance of aquaculture to our whanau.

The Maori Party supports any opportunities and incentives for whānau, hapū and iwi to enjoy genuine progress from their connections with their maunga, awa, moana, marae , tūpuna and atua.

We believe that Aquaculture has great potential to boost wealth and jobs, especially in the regions. We believe that this BIll will help Maori contribute more to the growth of an industry with huge economic potential to benefit all of New Zealand.

Iwi already control around 40% of fisheries, but further progress in aquaculture has been hampered by the 2004 Act creating an unworkable solution to settle Maori claims.

The legislation we are debating tonight, is arguably a ‘work in progress’, especially in consideration of the changes aimed at simplifying the process around new space for aquaculture activities allocation, as well as taking into account the interim measure put in place to allow for the continuation of the 20% allocation mechanism for Māori interests in aquaculture

The commitment shown in regard to future consultation with iwi leaders around these issues has been really encouraging.

Because of their work, the amendment allows iwi and the Crown to negotiate regional settlements of commercial aquaculture claims, which might involve 20% of any new space, cash or other agreed terms. Iwi can, in effect, negotiate a package that suits their specific and unique circumstances.

Mr Speaker, we understand that some new space will be reserved for settlements for three years. We accept this as important to allow negotiations to proceed, but the time limit will stop discussions from getting bogged down.

Regional settlements are to deliver space to iwi in more useful blocks, rather than as 20% scattered among each allocation that is made.

And I want to draw attention to the comments that were made by Te Ohu Kaimoana in their submission to the primary production committee on this bill. Their submission said, and I quote:

“Having a positive and sustainable aquaculture sector will not come from getting the legislation correct. It will also need to be implemented well.

Te Ohu welcomes that the Government has indicated that it will take a more active and co-ordinated role. This must happen and it must be sustained.

One aspect where this is crucial will be in working with iwi in regions to reach and promptly implement agreements on their aquaculture settlements. For iwi to receive value from the Settlement this work will need to be anticipatory”.

Mr Speaker, another part of the Bill I want to refer to, is the provisions which will allow a marine farming zone to be created in the Hauraki Gulf, by amending the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan.

The zone is suitable for trial raising of hapuku or kingfish in sea cages. These high-value species would boost the industry. And again iwi will get 20% of the new zone.

Finally, Mr Speaker while we support the passing of this Bill, there is the outstanding issue of development opportunities that we believe should be promoted for whanau, hapu and iwi.

We would like to promote the development of innovative iwi aquaculture enterprises, including those in the marine environment, freshwater or on land and, in particular, to assist iwi to do two things - to:
• maximise the value of assets received under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004; and secondly to
• contribute substantially to the realisation of the aquaculture industry goal of achieving average turnover of $1B by 2025.
The Maori Party has taken this issue up with the Minister, and we would hope the Government could see fit to invest in projects aimed at delivering significant and sustainable economic value to iwi and New Zealand across the whole aquaculture value chain.

There is an enormous amount of potential that we could be looking to support, including education and skills development, research and development, product development, commercialisation, commercial development and technology transfer.

Within that, if we were to give priority to any projects, they would be ones which :

• contribute to innovation in the aquaculture sector
• build iwi/Māori capacity to participate successfully in all aspects of the sector
• and encourage collaboration between iwi, and between iwi and third-party partners of their choice.
Mr Speaker, we see the need for investment in iwi development within the aquaculture sector as crucial to the future success of the industry, and we will be taking up every opportunity to discuss these ideas further down the line with either the Takutai Trust of Te Ohu Kaimoana or the Aquaculture Unit of the Ministry of Fisheries as providing a platform for advancing sustainable development.

So with those comments Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is supporting this Bill at this third reading.

ENDS

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