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NRC Chairman Welcomes Govt Aquaculture Move

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NRC Chairman Welcomes Govt Aquaculture Move

2 APRIL 2009 - Government plans to investigate finfish and oyster farming opportunities in Northland in a bid to grow New Zealand's aquaculture industry have been welcomed by the Northland Regional Council.

Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth says aquaculture is already a multimillion dollar industry in Northland and has the potential to become an even bigger player under the Government's proposal.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith and Minister of Fisheries Phil Heatley announced recently plans to determine the feasibility of potential Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs) for oyster and finfish farming and related aquaculture activities in Northland.

Under the Government plan, more than two dozen possible AMA sites in Northland will be evaluated for their potential as marine farms this year, however, ultimately only a handful will be investigated further.

The bulk of the sites to be initially evaluated have previously been tagged by the NRC as possibly suitable for marine farming after extensive public consultation.

Mr Heatley, who is also Whangarei's electorate MP, says the latest plan reflects the Government's commitment to backing aquaculture as a greater earner of export revenue and a provider of domestic jobs.

"The aquaculture industry has a goal of becoming a $1 billion-a-year industry by the year 2025 and the Government is committed to helping it achieve this target," he says.

Mr Farnsworth says the NRC has identified the sustainable growth and development of Northland as one of its key priorities over the next 10 years and aquaculture could potentially play a significant role in this.

He says aquaculture had also been identified as an important sector during the recent 'Keep Northland Working summit' in Whangarei attended by Central Government, Council, business and iwi group representatives.

The project, led by the Ministry for the Environment, will undertake research to identify some of the best locations for aquaculture on the basis of their productive potential.

Mr Farnsworth says while politically the Council is supportive of the Government's plans, any future aquaculture development in Northland will still have to be consistent with the policy framework for marine farming the Council had developed in recent years. That framework is currently close to completion, pending the resolution of about a dozen appeals.

He says given the Council's support for the Government's latest initiative, Independent Commissioners are likely to be used for to consider new marine farm applications in future.

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