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Major Boost for Waikato Aquaculture Development

NEW ZEALAND - A significant step has been taken towards the development of a new marine farming zone in Wilson Bay. The plans were announced by Minister of Conservation Steve Chadwick and Environment Waikato chairman Peter Buckley earlier today.

“The growing $35 million aquaculture industry on the Coromandel has been given a major boost” said Steve Chadwick.

The two interim aquaculture management areas (AMAs) in the Firth of Thames were declared by an Order in Council. The new Wilson Bay Marine Farming Zone is 1.5 kilometres off the coast of Kereta, around 5 kilometres south of the entrance to Coromandel Harbour.

The Government is encouraging the use of AMAs to make better use of existing aquaculture space and to support sustainable aquaculture practices.

“Declaring these areas to be interim AMAs is another step forward in implementing the aquaculture reforms” said Ms Chadwick.

Substantial Economic Value

Mr Buckley said that his council was pleased progress had been made towards allowing further aquaculture development.
"It will also ensure the interests of residents, boaties, fishers and tourists, as well as marine mammals and other wildlife, are looked after,” he added.

Prior to the moratorium, aquaculture in one of the Wilson Bay sites had already become well established. Marine farming contributed $27 million annually to the regional economy, employed the equivalent of 270 full-time staff and paid $9.6 million in wages and salaries, a 2007 Environment Waikato report said. About another 100 full-time jobs were related to the industry. “This is a good outcome for Environment Waikato, given their hard work to develop the aquaculture zone in Wilson Bay before the new legislation came into force” said Ms Chadwick.

Background

As a result of increasing competition for space for aquaculture development the Government agreed to reform aquaculture management and put in place a moratorium on new applications in 2001. However, the aquaculture legislation ended the aquaculture moratorium and now restricts aquaculture to aquaculture management areas. Those areas will be established in the regional coastal plan.

Section 36 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 provides an exception, namely that an interim aquaculture management area may be declared where a Council has already established provisions in its regional coastal plan to zone and manage aquaculture. Those provisions adequately address the adverse effects on the environment (other than on fishing and fisheries resources) of aquaculture activities and occupations. The declaration of an interim aquaculture management area is the first step in a transitional process that also involves the Ministry of Fisheries. For Waikato, it will be followed by Ministry of Fisheries consideration, under sections 38 to 41 of the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act, of the effect that the interim aquaculture management areas would have on the activity of fishing and the sustainability of fisheries resources (an “aquaculture decision”).

Ellen Hardy

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