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Auckland Takes First Steps With Regulated Aquaculture

NEW ZEALAND - The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) has taken an initial precautionary position on the future management of aquaculture (marine farming) in the regions coastal marine area.

The ARC, which will consult on this matter, will use the new legislative tools provided by the 2005 Aquaculture Law Reforms (Invited Private Plan Changes and Excluded Areas) to best determine where new Aquaculture Management Areas may be established and where they are inappropriate.


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"We have noted the developing trend for offshore aquaculture elsewhere in the country... We are working on ways to provide flexibility for various smaller scale aquaculture developments within an otherwise broadly restrictive aquaculture policy framework."
Councillor Paul Walbran, Chair of the Regional Strategy and Planning Committee, Auckland, NZ

This does not affect any existing marine farming operations, the continuation of which is covered by the 2005 law reforms.

The ARC has approved preliminary consultation to start on draft principles, directions and concepts for a regional aquaculture policy framework, and indicative excluded areas.

It begins this month and proceed in several stages. Formal notification of a proposed variation to the Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal, and subsequent submissions to it, is expected to follow this process in early 2009.

Accommodating

Councillor Paul Walbran, Chair of the Regional Strategy and Planning Committee says that extensive areas of Auckland’s coast are generally inappropriate for large new aquaculture ventures. However, various smaller operations may well be accommodated within this approach.

“The reasons for such a precautionary approach are clear. The Auckland region is the largest population centre in the country and it sits beside some of the most highly valued and used coastal areas in New Zealand. Our coastal waters are already under significant pressure from often mutually exclusive competing uses, and this will only increase in the future as the region’s population grows,” he added.

Aucklanders have traditionally made great use of the coastal marine area - and particularly for recreation. People value undisturbed natural areas and many coastal areas have high ecological and conservation value. Tangata whenua also have very strong connections with the coast.

“Our coast is also important for economic reasons: commercial fishing, shipping, tourism, and aquaculture. Let’s also not forget that the Hauraki Gulf is recognized as being of national significance by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000,” said Cr. Walbran.

Aqua Appreciation

Cr. Walbran says that the council does appreciate that aquaculture can offer economic benefits to the region and in coming up with its precautionary position it has thought carefully about how to balance these competing uses and values.

“We have noted the developing trend for offshore aquaculture elsewhere in the country, and at this early stage consider that large new aquaculture ventures would be best directed away from the shore. We are working on ways to provide flexibility for various smaller scale aquaculture developments within an otherwise broadly restrictive aquaculture policy framework,” he added

He said that the policies being developed could have major effects on future generations of Aucklanders and their use and enjoyment of its coastal waters. It was sensible to start cautiously with a framework from where discussion can begin.

Ellen Hardy

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