Aquaculture reforms roles and responsibilities
On 1 October 2011 aquaculture legislative reforms came into effect. These changes are intended to foster environmentally sustainable aquaculture in New Zealand. The reforms make changes to the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Resource Management Act 1991.
Below are roles and responsibilities for aquaculture under the legislative reforms.
Minister responsible for Aquaculture
- Provides Government leadership on aquaculture.
- Holds a power to recommend changes to regional coastal plans in relation to aquaculture management.
- Holds a power to direct that a council not receive aquaculture applications for up to one year, pending demand management provisions being put in place.
- Holds a power to direct that applications for the occupation of space for aquaculture activities be processed and heard together by councils.
Aquaculture Unit in the Ministry of Fisheries
- The Aquaculture Unit is the Government’s main advisor on aquaculture and works with central and local government, iwi, industry and other stakeholders at both national and regional levels.
- Responsible for developing and implementing the national Aquaculture Strategy and Action Plan.
- To avoid any conflict of interest, the Aquaculture Unit will not be involved in undue adverse effects (UAE) matters.
Ministry of Fisheries
- Continues to make aquaculture decisions under the Fisheries Act 1996, including:
- identifying areas where marine farmers must seek the agreement of affected commercial fishers before lodging an application for a coastal permit, and identifies the parties whose agreement is needed
- registering agreements between marine farm applicants and fishing interests in areas specified as having an undue adverse effect on commercial fishing
- notifying councils of any agreements lodged with the Ministry of Fisheries.
- Continues to administer the fisheries registration system for all fish farms.
- Provides information to regional councils to help them assess the impact of a proposed aquaculture activity on fishing and fisheries resources.
- Works with regional councils to ensure that matters relevant to the aquaculture decision are addressed in the consent conditions.
Minister of Conservation
- Has new powers to approve alternative allocation tools in the coastal marine area and continues to approve regional coastal plans.
- Retains the ability to recommend that a proposed allocation proceed or not proceed in order to preserve the Crown’s ability to give effect to Government policy.
Department of Conservation
- Continues to:
- be responsible for recommending whether the Minister of Conservation should approve a regional coastal plan, in accordance with the Resource Management Act 1991
- be responsible for recommending in certain circumstances, that the Minister of Conservation issue directions to councils on the allocation of space
- be responsible for the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, including review and monitoring its implementation.
- Has a new responsibility to advise the Minister of Conservation whether to exercise the power to gazette an alternative allocation method.
Regional councils and unitary authorities
- Retain primary responsibility for aquaculture planning and consenting including:
- allocating coastal space
- administrating existing coastal permits, including all pre-RMA marine farming licences, leases and permits
- assessing the impact of a proposed aquaculture activity on fishing and fisheries resources
- Have three powers:
- can request from the Minister of Conservation the use of an alternative allocation tool
- can request from the Minister responsible for Aquaculture a suspension on the receipt of new applications to occupy space for aquaculture activities
- can request from the Minister responsible for Aquaculture that aquaculture applications be processed and heard together.