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Cumbersome Regulations prevent AMA Progress

NEW ZEALAND - Not a single new Aquaculture Management Area (AMA), anywhere in the country, has been created in the 1,097 days since the aquaculture reforms came into effect in January 2005, says NZ National Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley.

He says that the ruling Labour Party has put in place a cumbersome set of regulations that have amounted to nothing after three full years.

"Some space is still dribbling through under the old legislation but absolutely none under the new, according to Ministry of Fisheries documents that confirm 'no new space has been created' under the reforms," he said.

The National Party says that Fisheries Minister, Jim Anderton, has thrown committees at the problem, cash at the problems and made many promises. But there has been little progress.

"Maori were promised 20 per cent of existing aquaculture space and 20 per cent of future space as a treaty settlement in the aquaculture reforms. But rather than purchase existing space, Labour opted to use new space to settle both current and future commitments," said Mr Heatley.

He maintains that papers from the Ministry of Fisheries recent financial review hearing say that 'currently no new space has been created and so there has been no accumulation of settlement space.

"In other words, three years have slipped past Jim Anderton and absolutely nothing's been resolved. No existing space has been passed to Maori as promised, yet the Ministry's website says Maori are owed 2,134 hectare across the regions, or roughly 240 marine farms," he added.

In New Zealand the government of the day will be required to make a cash payment to Maori if the Fisheries Ministry can't find this water space by 2014. And Mr Heatley believes that this will become a key election issue for Maori MPs this year.

"With our natural resources, clean water, and business smarts, we should be harnessing the full potential of our aquaculture industry," he said.

Ellen Hardy

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