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Marine Farmers Set For Change

by 5m Editor
25 November 2009, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - The aquaculture industry has been invited to provide a response to the report Restarting Aquaculture, prepared and recently released by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) engaged by Government. The TAG were engaged to provide guidance to Government on how to encourage and enable the aquaculture industry towards its potential economic gain for New Zealand of $1billion in exports by 2025.

“The release of the TAG report has prompted much discussion about aquaculture”, said Peter Vitasovich, Chairman of Aquaculture New Zealand. “Our sector is very pleased to have the opportunity to have some discussion as it gives us the ability to highlight the significant economic returns we can deliver in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Over the next few weeks the membership of Aquaculture New Zealand will be coming together in a series of meetings to formulate their response to the report, which signals some significant changes to the current processes required to establish marine farming operations.

The response will reflect the comments raised by the industry through the meetings, and there will be a focus on some key issues the industry would like to see addressed. Currently the planning processes are significantly more onerous than any other business would expect to have to participate in, particularly when compared with normal land-use planning processes. These barriers are a disincentive to investment in marine farming. Providing certainty of process will encourage investment.

The industry is also concerned that there needs to be a shared use of our coastal marine area. New Zealand is surrounded by a lot of water and there is certainly room for everybody to be able to work and play together in it. The recreational boaties and commercial fisherman are an important part of the fabric of New Zealand just as marine farmers are.

“Environmental standards are not negotiable and paramount to the industry’s success," warns Mr Vitasovich. "Marine farms require the highest environment standards to meet the demand of both the New Zealand Food Safety requirements and the expectations of the international market, both in current and future export markets. The bottom line is we need high environmental standards to ensure we produce safe healthy food to put on the tables of the world."

He continued to say that diversification within consented space, much like the agricultural industry is able to do, will also be an important tool to allow the industry to meet market demands. Any diversification can be encouraged whilst protecting the high environmental standards required.

“The aquaculture sector is on the cusp of real and positive change," said Mr Vitasovich. "However, key to that change is the understanding of communities and other coastal users of what, and how, the change will occur.”

“In the meetings over the next few weeks we will be bringing together a consistent and coherent view to present to the Minister. It is hoped this response will inform the impending legislation to provide the sector with the opportunity to fulfil its potential as an environmentally responsible economic contributor,” concluded Mr Vitasovich.

5m Editor