In 2012, the Government adopted an aquaculture strategy and 5-year action plan to guide sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector.
The Government's Aquaculture strategy and five-year action plan supports sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry – balancing our economic, social, cultural and ecological values.
Through the strategy and action plan the Government will:
- work with councils and the public to plan for sustainable aquaculture growth
- ensure the laws and processes for setting up and operating aquaculture farms are effective, responsive, and enable investment
- deliver on the Crown's aquaculture settlement obligations to Māori
- identify opportunities for improving Māori wellbeing through aquaculture
- build our knowledge of aquaculture's environmental effects and ensure a healthy aquatic environment
- maintain and build our animal health and welfare, food safety, and biosecurity standards
- encourage investment and innovation
- facilitate discussion between industry, government, Māori, and the public about how aquaculture should grow and be managed.
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Proposed national environmental standard
An important part of the aquaculture strategy is the development of a nationally-consistent framework under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to manage existing marine aquaculture.
In 2017, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) consulted on a proposed national environmental standard (NES) for marine aquaculture.
An NES is established under the RMA and sets national rules that replace regional council rules. The NES: Marine aquaculture:
- proposes changes to the re-consenting process for existing marine farms
- would require all marine farms (existing and new) to have a biosecurity management plan.
In June 2019 Cabinet approved final policy provisions for the drafting of the NES: Marine Aquaculture. Following drafting of the new regulations, the NES: Marine aquaculture will be put in front of Cabinet for a final decision in early 2020.
Action plan to guide sustainable growth
The action plan supports the aquaculture strategy, setting out how the Government will support sustainable growth. Government roles are organised under 7 objectives.
The success of the New Zealand aquaculture industry is largely based on our clean waters and environmentally sustainable production. Looking after the aquatic environment is important for long-term growth and protection of our markets. We need to keep unwanted pests and diseases out of our waters and make sure industry can deal with biosecurity issues.
Government will focus on:
- maintaining water quality in farming areas
- biosecurity management and planning
- maintaining and documenting environmental performance.
To help councils plan for aquaculture, it's important that Government works with stakeholders to:
- identify key growing areas and opportunities
- support environmentally sustainable growth.
Government is helping to improve aquaculture planning by:
- working with regional councils to plan for aquaculture growth, provide new growing areas and use existing spaces better
- working with district councils to make sure infrastructure can support aquaculture
- providing guidance on consent processes
- providing information to support decision making and community acceptance of aquaculture
- assessing undue adverse effects of aquaculture on fishing.
Legislation of marine aquaculture was improved in 2011, but there are still areas of aquaculture regulation that need review.
The Government will improve regulation in key areas, such as:
- land-based aquaculture
- enhancement and ranching (where young animals are released into the natural environment to replace depleted stock or to harvest when grown)
- overarching legislation review.
Māori are important members of the seafood industry. The commercial aquaculture settlement (agreed in 2004) reinforces their importance to the future growth of the aquaculture industry.
- Government needs to implement and efficiently deliver the Māori aquaculture settlement.
- Māori need to identify what role they want to play in the aquaculture sector and how they want to use settlement assets.
Māori have a strong customary interest in the marine and freshwater environment that intersects with the aquaculture sector. We need to promote opportunities to enhance customary value through aquaculture. The government is focusing on:
- delivering the Crown's aquaculture settlement obligations
- understanding and supporting Māori aquaculture objectives
- recognising specific Māori interests across the aquaculture programme.
Developing and growing markets for New Zealand products is essential. We need to remove external barriers to trade and improve trade conditions with key export countries. To sell to higher-value markets, the sustainability of New Zealand aquaculture needs to be independently verified.
- support market development
- improve market and trade access
- provide information to promote the sustainability and quality of New Zealand aquaculture
- support third-party certification of sustainable aquaculture.
Research and innovation are essential to future aquaculture growth. Aquaculture research needs to align with industry priorities to improve value. Government is focusing on:
- improving coordination, collaboration, and prioritisation of research
- facilitating field trials and research
- supporting innovation
- making better use of existing information
- understanding climate change impacts – adaptation and opportunities.
The Aquaculture Research Forum brings together the aquaculture industry, research sector, and government. The forum's 2013 aquaculture research strategy identifies 7 key research areas.
Aquaculture mid-term research strategy 2013 [PDF, 537 KB]
Growth of the aquaculture sector needs industry, government, Māori and the public working together, with clear goals and lines of accountability and responsibility. Coordination across these groups has previously been identified as a weakness and was a driver of aquaculture reforms. Sound governance is being promoted by:
- improving linkages between sectors through groups like the Aquaculture Research Forum
- regular reviews of the strategy and action plan.
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