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Aquaculture Changes May Have Negative Effects

by 5m Editor
24 November 2009, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Following the announcement of the technical advisory report earlier this month, recreation and commerical fishermen are becoming concerned about the possible loss of water space, if plans to expand the marine industry take off.

Among the proposals in the aquaculture technical advisory group report released by Fisheries Minister, Phil Heatley earlier this month are the creation of an aquaculture agency within the Ministry of Fisheries, the appointment of a minister of aquaculture, lifting the ban on industry development outside aquaculture management areas and redesign of the undue adverse effects test on fishing.

The aquaculture industry, which is hoping to be a billion-dollar industry by 2025, has supported many of the recommendations, saying development has stagnated because of the regulatory environment.

However, Mariri's Geoff Rowling, president of the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, told The Nelson Mail that he was alarmed by how the changes may affect amateur fishermen.

"It sounds like we're going back to the bad old days where anyone can apply for a piece of aquaculture anywhere they like and then the rest of us have to try to defend that sea space," he said.

Mr Rowling said that before a moratorium was in place, there were many applications for marine farms that took up productive fishing grounds in Tasman and Golden bays, and the Marlborough Sounds.

Motueka-based Federation of Commercial Fishermen president Doug Saunders-Loder told The Nelson Mail that any change to the undue adverse effects test would be of concern as at present it allowed commercial interests to protect their fishing rights: "To lose that would simply mean we would have no negotiating power."

Mr Saunders-Loder said the advancement of the aquaculture industry was positive, provided it did not impact on other users of marine space and resources.

Environmental Defence Society coastal policy researcher, Raewyn Peart, questioned the credibility of the proposed changes. Some recommendations were sensible, she said, such as a per-hectare levy on marine farms to help cover costs and avoid a "gold-rush" for free space. But the advisory group's dual role as industry watchdog and industry promoter were incompatible, she said.

5m Editor