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Aquaculture Reform With TAG Report

NEW ZEALAND - The release of the TAG report by the Minister of Fisheries, Phil Heatley is a major step towards the creation of a legislative environment that recognises the economic value the aquaculture sector can bring to New Zealand.

Regulatory bottlenecks and laws that don't cater well to aquaculture planning have caused the industry to stagnate.

Speaking at the annual Aquaculture New Zealand conference in Nelson, Mr Heatley welcomed a report from the aquaculture technical advisory group, which was set up by the government in July as an independent expert body.

"I am confident that we will get a regime in place that enables the development of this crucial industry to achieve its goal of becoming a $1 billion contributor to the New Zealand economy - while always protecting the environment and recreational opportunities of other users of our coastal areas," Mr Heatley said.

"I would like to acknowledge the work of the advisory group under the astute chairmanship of Sir Doug Kidd. They have done a comprehensive job in an extremely tight timeframe."

The advisory group of aquaculture practitioners and industry representatives was briefed to develop independent proposals for Ministers on aquaculture reform.

"The government took this step because the complexity, cost and uncertainty of the current regime, along with poor incentives for development were impeding aquaculture growth," Mr Heatley said.

No new aquaculture space had been created under reforms undertaken in 2004 and it was unlikely that any new space would be created for several more years.

He said that the ability to research and innovate was being stifled by inflexible rules that limited the ability to advance new technologies and the farming of higher value species.

Mr Heatley and his colleagues with an interest in aquaculture, Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee and Environment Minister Nick Smith, encouraged feedback on the advisory group's proposals.

Submissions on the aquaculture technical advisory group report close on 16 December. Wider input will be sought at the select committee stage of the aquaculture reform legislation. The report is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/default.htm  

Cabinet approval of the proposed policy for aquaculture reform will be sought in early 2010.

the Fish Site Editor

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