Aquaculture reforms to be overhauledEnvironment
Environment Minister Nick Smith and Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley have announced that rules governing aquaculture will be overhauled alongside the Government's wider review of the Resource Management Act (RMA).
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.
"A vibrant aquaculture industry producing high quality, healthy, sustainable seafood has huge potential for creating thriving businesses in regional areas and boosting economic growth for the whole country," Mr Heatley says.
"The aquaculture industry is being held back by a regulatory regime that is just not working," he added.
In 2001 a moratorium was placed on new applications for aquaculture space. This was followed in 2004 by a new regime, bringing aquaculture management under the control of regional councils as part of the RMA. However no new aquaculture space has been created under the 2004 regime.
"That's nearly 1500 days of no progress, which is a disgrace," says Mr Heatley.
Dr Smith says the aquaculture regime was now imbedded in the RMA, which clearly wasn't working for New Zealand.
"The excessive time, cost and complexity of getting new aquaculture projects through the current RMA process is holding back aquaculture businesses and depriving the economy of much needed sustainable growth," says Dr Smith.
Mr Heatley says international demand for the type of top quality seafood the New Zealand's aquaculture industry produces is increasing rapidly.
"We need to make sure the industry has a proper and effective management regime to make the most of these opportunities for New Zealand," he says.
Overhauling aquaculture will begin early next year.
First, the Aquaculture Amendment Bill (No 2) 2008 aims to remove a number of technical barriers to aquaculture and will continue through the parliamentary process before being passed in early 2009.
Also in early 2009 the Government will introduce into Parliament the first phase of its intended RMA reforms, which will streamline the RMA approval and consideration processes and make it less difficult, time consuming and costly for projects to be considered and approved.
These amendments will provide benefits for the development of aquaculture. In particular these reforms will improve:
Efficiency of resource consent processes.
Effectiveness of central government tools including removal of ministerial veto on coastal consents.
Speed of plan-making processes.
Tools to deal with frivolous and vexatious submitters
Lastly, an aquaculture specific phase of reforms will be progressed following the substitute RMA legislation.
Changes to the regime will enable sustainable development - taking into account community interests - and most importantly the findings of the current independent review of aquaculture law.
"The new Government is committed to aquaculture and will continue to work with the aquaculture industry to get things moving in this important sector," Mr Heatley says.