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Aquaculture Reforms Not A Long Term Fix

by the Fish Site Editor
16 December 2009, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has lodged its submissions on the Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group's report. The submissions set out a range of concerns that EDS has with the recommendations contained in the report.

"EDS is largely supportive of expanding aquaculture in New Zealand but it has to be subject to rigorous environmental standards," said EDS Senior Policy Analyst Raewyn Peart.

"Although the TAG has made some positive recommendations, many of its proposals go too far in seeking to promote the expansion of the aquaculture industry at the expense of the environment and other marine users such as recreational boaties.

"These include the establishment of an Aquaculture Agency which would be tasked with both promoting the industry and developing environmental policies and rules under which the industry would operate. Those two roles are incompatible and would undermine the integrity of New Zealand's environmental management system and drive down environmental standards.

"The report also contains proposals for direct Ministerial intervention in writing rules in regional coastal plans. That kind of political interference in planning processes is unwelcome.

"Overall, the TAG fails to deal with the key underlying problems which have bedevilled aquaculture management to date. It is proposing a band-aid fix rather than a long term solution to managing competing uses in the marine environment.

"The real solution is to strengthen marine planning, as it is a lack of good planning which has been the source of many of the problems experienced by aquaculture over the years.

"We need to put in place marine spatial plans which identify the 'ecological backbone' of the marine area, a network of ecologically significant areas which need to be protected. They should also identify 'open water space', areas which would be kept free of structures and which can be used for recreational purposes such as anchoring, swimming, sailing and kayaking. Aquaculture and other uses could then be provided for within this protective framework.

"Regional councils need to be supported and resourced to prepare stronger regional coastal plans. An expanded Environmental Protection Authority or a Coastal Commission could take on the technical support role and additional funding could be obtained through implementing a coastal occupation charging system.

"EDS is particularly concerned about the tight framework for the reforms, with cabinet set to make decisions on the preferred policy approach early in the New Year.

"There have been frequent changes to the regulatory framework for aquaculture over the past eight years. The changes have not been well thought through and have had to be continually revisited. We need to avoid a repeat of this situation and take the time to get it right this time."

the Fish Site Editor