Marine farm limps over the line
20 October 2009
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley has today welcomed final approval from the Ministry of Fisheries for the 1783 hectare Wilson’s Bay Interim Aquaculture Management Area in the Firth of Thames.
The Minister says the process heralds the final nail in the coffin for the present aquaculture rules and boosts the case for major reform of the Resource Management Act, which will include the rules governing aquaculture.
“I welcome this decision, but with mixed feelings given the sheer economic paralysis the applicants, and all those in the aquaculture sector, have had to endure under the RMA.
“Consents for the Wilson’s Bay area were first applied for in February 2001.
“That’s almost nine years of hoops jumped through, and I’m told there will now be more steps required at local authority level before this area will begin producing seafood.”
Mr Heatley says the government will be overhauling the aquaculture regime so that more marine farming space can be generated to enable the aquaculture industry to keep growing.
The government’s Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group, announced in July, has just reported back on legislative options and the three lead Aquaculture Ministers – Phil Heatley, Nick Smith and Gerry Brownlee – will now consider their recommendations.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work for the advisory group to get to this point and I look forward to discussing their recommendations for these important reforms,” Mr Heatley said.
The Wilson’s Bay area has 520 hectares zoned for shellfish farming, with the remainder being access-ways between marine farm blocks.
“It’s great news that the Coromandel marine farming industry now has 520 hectares of new space to expand into. Wilson’s Bay is a high-quality marine farming area with ideal growing conditions, so this will be a real shot in the arm for the local industry,” Mr Heatley said.
“The Government is right behind the aquaculture industry and is working hard to help it achieve its goal of becoming a $1 billion a year business by 2025,” he said.
“Aquaculture has huge potential as a sustainable industry that can make a far greater contribution to New Zealand’s economy.”