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900 days on - aquaculture reforms deliver squat

NEW ZEALAND - The chorus of criticism is becoming deafening over Labour's lack of action on aquaculture space, says National's Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

Labour's Dover Samuels has said publicly that the legislation is seriously flawed, yesterday, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia criticised the delays, and today the Marlborough District Council has said 'the marine farming industry is stagnating' and Labour's reforms are 'unworkable.'

Mr Heatley says he's not at all surprised at growing criticism that progress in aquaculture has been hopeless for Maori.

"Not one single new Aquaculture Management Area (AMA), where marine farming isn't already happening, has been created anywhere in the country in the 894 days since the reforms came into effect."

As part of the reforms, which came into force in January 2005, Maori were promised 20% of existing aquaculture space, and 20% of future space.

But rather than purchase existing space, Labour opted to use new space to settle both current and future commitments. However, in last year's Ministry of Fisheries financial review they reported that 'currently no new space has been created; therefore there has been no accumulation of settlement space'. Nothing has changed since then.

"In other words, two and a half years have slipped past Jim Anderton and absolutely nothing's been resolved. No space has been passed to Maori as promised, yet the ministry's website says Maori are owed 1,943 hectares across the regions, or roughly 240 marine farms.

"The Government of the day will be required to make a multi-million dollar cash payment to Maori if the Fisheries Ministry cannot find this water space by 2014.

"The Marlborough District Council has had enough and is demanding their cash payout of $30 million now. "It is quite simple; aquaculture cannot grow threefold to become a $1 billion industry if they have no new space to farm."

the Fish Site Editor

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