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Marine Farming Moratorium Hits Northland Economy

by Ellen Hardy
04 March 2008, at 12:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Whangarei MP Phil Heatley says Northlands economy is feeling the pinch due to the standstill over marine farming.

Plans to expand production in the area are being held up as the government reviews appropriate means to address cultural and environmental sensitivities, suggests the Whangarei Leader.

In 2001, the government put a moratorium on new marine farms while it refined aquaculture legislation. The aquaculture reforms came into effect in January 2005, with a law saying new marine farms must be in specific Aquaculture Management Areas. But, three years on, not one new area has been created, says Mr Heatley, who believes a huge opportunity has been lost.

He says Maori, who have been promised 20 percent of Aquaculture Management Areas, are yet to receive any and are also missing out.

"They’ve been promised a whole lot of aquaculture space as part of this fisheries settlement. Regardless of how you feel about the deal it was a promise and they haven’t seen any of it," he added.

New Zealand used to be leading-edge in the aquaculture industry but since the moratorium, other countries like Argentina have been taking over.

Mr Heatley believes the law, which works under the Resource Management Act, needs to be refined and streamlined.

"Clearly we don’t want the Whangarei Harbour filled with aquaculture, but there must be areas where it’s suitable and not in conflict with other users," he added.

Fisheries minister Jim Anderton says New Zealand must take care to plan new development in coastal waters – which is close to the hearts of New Zealanders.

The minister says it is also important for everyone in the community to have their views considered, and that the process to establish Aquaculture Management Areas, done with the community, takes time.

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Ellen Hardy