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Farm Plans Sink in Favour of Fishing

NEW ZEALAND - Proposals for 2000-hectares of marine farming have been shelved in favour of protecting commercial fishing.

According to the Dominion Post preliminary decision to decline 95 per cent of an application covering 2108 hectares of potential aquaculture areas in Golden and Tasman bays at the top of the South Island has pitted marine farmers against commercial fishermen.

Fisheries Ministry aquaculture manager Dan Lees said the proposed aquaculture areas would affect snapper and scallop fisheries but he would welcome evidence to the contrary.

He also said an agreement between fishing interests and marine farmers to share the resources could affect the final decision.

Marine Farming Association executive director Graeme Coates said he hoped there would be some agreement, but there had been nothing like it before.

Other aquaculture areas in New Zealand had made agreements over usage with commercial fishermen, but not in areas affecting the major interests of big fishing companies such as in Marlborough and Tasman and Golden bays.

The industry as a whole would benefit from some compromise, he said. "It should be a seafood industry prerogative to make it happen. Where there is a will there is a way."

Mr Lees' justification that there were already 8000ha of permitted aquaculture in the area was misleading, Mr Coates said.

Most was used on a rotation basis for spat catching, which meant the actual area in use at any time was about 4500ha.

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