An update to the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill will smooth the pathway to settlement of Maori commercial aquaculture claims, and allow trial farming of high-value finfish in a Coromandel Marine Farming Zone, says Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples.
A Supplementary Order Paper, drafted in consultation with aquaculture iwi leaders, offers iwi and the Crown more flexibility in negotiating settlements under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004.
“Aquaculture has great potential to boost wealth and jobs, especially in the regions. Iwi already control around 40% of fisheries, but further progress in aquaculture has been hampered by the 2004 Act creating an unworkable solution to settle Maori claims,” said Dr Sharples.
“The SOP allows iwi and the Crown to negotiate regional settlements of commercial aquaculture claims, which might involve 20% of any new space, cash or other agreed terms. Iwi could negotiate a package that suits their circumstances.
“Some new space would be reserved for settlements for three years, to allow negotiations to proceed, but the time limit would stop discussions from getting bogged down. Regional settlements are to deliver space to iwi in more useful blocks, rather than as 20% scattered among each allocation that is made.
“The SOP would also allow a marine farming zone to be created in the Hauraki Gulf, by amending the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan. The zone is suitable for trial raising of hapuku or kingfish in sea cages. These high-value species would boost the industry. Iwi would get 20% of the new zone.
“This SOP will help Maori contribute more to the growth of an industry with huge economic potential to benefit all of New Zealand,” said Dr Sharples.