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New Law Supports Sustainable Aquaculture

NEW ZEALAND - A new legislation passed sets the legal framework needed to support growth in the aquaculture sector, says Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley.

From 1 October, changes will be made to the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Resource Management Act 1991, says Mr Heatley.

"These changes will support the aquaculture industry to fulfil its potential while maintaining essential protections for the environment. It balances aquaculture development with other uses of the coastal space."

Aquaculture needs only a small fraction of our coastal space and has the potential to be a one billion dollar industry by 2025. This potential was fettered by the unintended consequences of former regulation that saw aquaculture applications held back by moratoria, says Mr Heatley.

One of the key aspects of the new law is the removal of the requirement for Aquaculture Management Areas, or AMAs, to be established before consent applications can be made.

This will put aquaculture on the same footing as other coastal activities and enable councils to plan for it in a similar way. Removing the requirement for AMAs means a return to aquaculture development going through consents processes under the Resource Management Act, says Mr Heatley.

The legislation specifically assists aquaculture development in Tasman and Waikato by amending both regional coastal plans to enable applications to farm a wider range of species, including finfish, in areas where aquaculture is already established.

Before the introduction of this legislation, these two plans contained the greatest barriers to developing aquaculture. The Government recognised there was a great opportunity to stimulate investment and growth in these regions, within acceptable environmental limits, says Mr Heatley.

In Waikato, the coastal plan has also been amended to establish the Coromandel Marine Farm Zone.

Throughout this process the Government has signalled its commitment to ensuring that the Crown continues to uphold the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement.

This law does that and includes a delivery mechanism for the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement, says Mr Heatley.

I would like to acknowledge the many people and organisations who took the time to make submissions on this legislation, and contributed to its development through earlier engagement processes, says Mr Heatley.

This new piece of legislation will ensure that NZ is well placed to meet the growing worldwide demand for environmentally sustainable aquaculture products, he says.

The Ministry of Fisheries Aquaculture Unit will serve as an important resource for local authorities, iwi, environmental interests, the aquaculture industry, and other stakeholders.

the Fish Site Editor

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