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Kaipara groups oppose aquaculture

14 October 2004 - Wellington

Kaipara groups oppose aquaculture

Kaipara environment groups are opposed to the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter's recent approval of an application for the early expiry of the aquaculture moratorium over an area in the Kaipara Harbour.

This is the first early expiry request approved by the Minister.

Rodney based, aquaculture company Biomarine Ltd requested the early expiry to allow them to apply for a resource consent to establish a 100ha oyster farm in the Kaipara Harbour.

The Minister's approval will see the request for early expiry go before the Cabinet. If allowed, it will then go for consideration to the Governor General.

This approval was granted despite significant opposition from several Kaipara environmental groups, including Kaipara Forest and Bird.

Kaipara Forest and Bird, the South Kaipara Environmental Protection Trust, and the Guardians of the Kaipara made submissions opposing the early expiry.

If granted, the early expiry would allow Biomarine to apply for a resource consent for the oyster farm, even though no aquaculture management areas are yet approved for the southern Kaipara Harbour.

Last year, the Auckland Regional Council proposed five Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs) for the southern part of the Kaipara Harbour. There were 1300 submissions on the proposals, most of them opposing the AMAs, and these are still waiting to go to a hearing.

"Kaipara communities were not consulted on the size, location, or appropriateness of the aquaculture management areas before these were imposed on the Kaipara Harbour by the Auckland Regional Council (ARC)", says Kaipara Forest and Bird convenor, Suzi Phillips.

Most of the 1300 submissions opposing the AMAs are from Kaipara people in communities such as South Head, Shelly Beach, Parakai and Helensville. There is also opposition from throughout Rodney and the wider Auckland region, she says.

"We are told that these submissions cannot be heard because of delays in the foreshore and seabed legislation and the progress of the aquaculture law reforms.

"Yet this early expiry of the moratorium allows the aquaculture company to progress its claim and possibly if successful, establish an oyster farm before the concerns of the Kaipara people have a chance to be heard," says Ms Phillips.

"The people of the Kaipara have a democratic right to a fair hearing of their concerns, before this happens," she says.

"Local communities are shocked at the ARC's approach in promoting the interests of one industry player above those of the local community."

The early expiry of the moratorium applies only to AMA 'D' where the oyster farm is proposed - the moratorium remains on the rest of the Kaipara Harbour probably until at least early next year.

"If a resource consent is granted, the oyster farm may then be granted an "interim AMA" for the oyster farm. This undermines the hearing process by preventing the Kaipara community and the wider community from having the reasons for their opposition to this AMA taken into account," says Ms Phillips.

"The Kaipara Harbour is an important habitat for marine mammals and an internationally significant roosting and feeding area for about 30,000 local and migratory waders, shorebirds, and seabirds. "

"We are concerned about the negative impact of large-scale aqua-factories on the harbour's natural heritage, and the landscape and recreational values of the harbour," she says.

"Our aim is to protect the natural heritage of the Kaipara Harbour for the benefit of the community and future generations," says Ms Phillips.


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