Maori Aquaculture Bill passes second reading
The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Amendment Bill passed its second reading in Parliament over night Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley announced today.
The Bill is needed to give effect to a Deed of Settlement signed in May this year with iwi of the South Island and Coromandel for an early cash settlement of the Crown’s obligations under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004.
The settlement centres on a cash payment of $97 million in full and final settlement of all Crown obligations for “pre-commencement space” or aquaculture space that was approved between 21 September 1992 and 31 December 2004 under the previous marine farming regime.
The settlement covers the vast majority of New Zealand’s current aquaculture development areas including the Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay and the Hauraki Gulf along with the rest of the South Island.
The Aquaculture Settlement Act 2004, as originally passed, does not allow for early cash settlement of aquaculture settlement obligations or the negotiation of regional settlements of this type.
“This was a ground-breaking and innovative solution to meeting the Crown’s aquaculture settlement obligations but to make it happen we need to get the law changed,” Mr Heatley said.
“The Government wants to complete the settlement as quickly as possible; we want to see the settlement payment flowing through to iwi so they can use it for the benefit of their people.”
The Amendment Bill will also clear the way for similar settlements to be negotiated in other areas. The Crown is now working to identify opportunities to negotiate settlements with iwi in the remaining regions where aquaculture exists.
More information on the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at this link www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Maori/Details+of++Settlement/default.htm