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Fish farm future brighter for North

NEW ZEALAND - Northland is the big winner from a new Government fund to help regions push through plans for the contentious issue of aquaculture development.

A fish farm at Laings Beach.

Environment Minister David Benson-Pope announced yesterday the Government had allocated close to $400,000 to help four key regions plan for future marine farming.

It is the first allocation from $2 million available to regional councils over five years.

Regional councils around the country are going through a process to establish which areas should be set aside as aquaculture management areas (AMAs) where marine farms could be permitted.

Northland Regional Council has been allocated $230,000 of the $400,000 fund, with Mr Benson-Pope saying Northland was a priority area for aquaculture development.

"This council has been working hard to develop their aquaculture policy framework. This money will help the council to facilitate public consultation on proposed changes to its regional plan for aquaculture management areas," he said.

"This large allocation is particular to Northland at this time as it is a priority project and recognises the unique circumstances of resources at the council."

The council lost two coastal planners in the past month and the third has been on maternity leave since late last year, temporarily stalling the project.

Mr Benson-Pope said the fund was mainly targeted to help identify areas where aquaculture should not go, support environmental studies, help with consultation costs, encourage Maori involvement, and support cultural, social and economic impact assessment.

Source: The Northern Advocate