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Maps Will Help Decide Future of Aquaculture

Environment Politics +1 more

NEW ZEALAND - Where do whales swim? What are the Bay of Plentys main coastal shipping routes? Which places along our coast have special ecological values? Soon, all will be revealed in new maps that, for the first time, will provide a detailed picture of whats going on in the Bay of Plentys coastal waters.

The maps are part of a major, long-term project by Environment Bay of Plenty to decide the future of aquaculture in the region. One strand of the project involves mapping activities, uses and values that make certain areas unsuitable for marine farms. These include commercial navigation routes, fishing areas, sites of significance to tangata whenua, travel pathways for whales and other mammals, and sites of ecological value.

“With these maps, we are trying to build up a picture of the entire offshore area,” says Environment Bay of Plenty senior environmental planner Aileen Lawrie. “We don’t want to allow marine farming in the wrong places so it’s important we have a really good idea of what’s happening out there.”

Over the past year, staff have worked closely with groups such as fishing companies and iwi to define areas not suitable for marine farming. Now, they want to make a final check they have not missed anything.

They will do this by taking the draft maps to public workshops in Maketu, Opotiki, Whakatane, and Tauranga later in November. “Residents can help by attending the meetings, checking the draft maps, and giving their valuable input.”

The Government has asked regional councils to create aquaculture management areas, or zones suitable for marine farms. Marine farming will be prohibited outside these areas.

For Environment Bay of Plenty, mapping the offshore area is only part of the story. “It works out where aquaculture can go,” Ms Lawrie says. Other research will answer the question of how much aquaculture Bay of Plenty waters can sustain without affecting the local ecology or kaimoana.

The mapping project should be completed by the end of this year, with the science project by March 2006. You can check the draft maps at Environment Bay of Plenty offices and public libraries. They will be posted on the Coast sections of the council’s website.

Marine farming is a fast-growing and lucrative industry in New Zealand. The Aquaculture Council predicts export earnings will exceed $1 billion by 2020.

The workshops will be held in the following places.

Maketu Maketu Fire Station Social Room, Monday 21 November, 6:30pm
Opotiki Opotiki District Council council chambers, Tuesday 22 November, 6:30pm
Whakatane Whakatane War Memorial Hall, Wednesday 23 November, 6:30pm
Tauranga Mount Manganui Cosmopolitan Club, Thursday 24 November, 6:30pm