Marine farmers urged to have say on levies

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
1 February 2007, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Marlborough marine farmers are being urged to vote in a referendum about changes to their industry commodities levies.

The change would see existing levies paid by mussel and oyster farmers diverted to the newly established organisation New Zealand Aquaculture (NZAQ) and a voluntary levy formerly paid by salmon farmers made compulsory.

More than 50 percent approval from farmers is needed for the change to go ahead.

The levy will be used to fund the implementation of the New Zealand aquaculture sector strategy, a 10-point plan to achieve growth to the value of $1 billion by 2025.

NZAQ is the new single voice for the industry, bringing together NZ Aquaculture Council, the NZ Mussel Industry Council, the NZ Salmon Farmers Association, the NZ Oyster Farmers Association and the NZ Abalone Farmers Association.

The changes have been signalled for some time.

However, Aquaculture New Zealand chief executive Mike Burrell said there was a danger that farmers would assume the change would simply roll over even if they did not vote.

"If we get under 50 percent just through lack of turnout we will have to go through the whole consultation process again," Mr Burrell said.

By not voting people were effectively voting no to the changes, he said.

As mussel farmers make up 70 percent of those represented by the new body, it was important Marlborough's mussel farmers took part in the voting process, Mr Burrel said. The meeting was the second of six to be held around the country.

Source: The Marlborough Express