Marine farming proposal represents solutions not slogans
18 June, 2004
Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope has hit out the National Party for trying to score political points instead of progressing an important issue.
Yesterday Mr Benson-Pope announced a proposal to allocate a 20 per cent share of marine farming space to iwi as a full and final settlement of Maori claims to commercial marine farming, post September 1992.
Mr Benson-Pope says this represents a way forward for the marine farming industry in New Zealand:
"The initial response we've had from both industry and iwi is that this solves many of the impediments to progressing the aquaculture reforms and lifting the marine farming moratorium at the end of the year," he said.
"The alternative being offered by National is to accept another decade of litigation, which will deny rural coastal communities the opportunity to develop businesses around aquaculture and create jobs where they are needed the most.
"It's time National put aside its obsession with Maori bashing. They need to put away the empty slogans and admit they don't have any solutions."
Mr Benson-Pope was also critical of National's assessment that the issue was related in any way to the seabed and foreshore debate.
He said National were being mischievous for continuing to say marine farming was included in the 1992 Fisheries Settlement. Even former National cabinet minister and then treaty negotiator Doug Graham, concedes that it wasn't saying today that this new proposal is in line with the 1992 settlement.
"This is an important issue," said Mr Benson-Pope. "We have put forward a proposal that will require thought and consideration by all groups. It is a way forward, and is a lot more than National are offering."
Contact: Pete Coleman (Press Secretary) (04) 471- 9685 or 021-811-003