July 17, 2008

Funds Boost Regional Aquaculture Industry

By REICH, Josh

The Nelson region's aquaculture industry is set to get a boost with the Government pledging funds to look at ways of further developing the industry.

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard announced the extra funding while on a tour of New Zealand King Salmon in Tahunanui yesterday.

Funding of $2.6 million over four years has been provided for six aquaculture projects in Nelson, Marlborough and Northland, two of which target the industry in Nelson and Tasman.

One project will see the Ministry for the Environment working with the Tasman District Council to review regional plan provisions, with the goal of broadening aquaculture activities beyond mussel and spat catching and mussel farming.

"What they're focussing on doing is trying to create new aquaculture management areas, as well as trying to work on greater flexibility for getting new species into existing space," Mr Mallard said.

The second project will provide assistance by way of a mediator to negotiate voluntary agreements between aquaculture interests and commercial fishing quota holders.

Mr Mallard said there was the potential for up to 2000ha of high- quality space for aquaculture in the region but all parties needed to decide what the best use of the resource was.

"What we need to do to get that to happen is to effectively do a deal between aquaculture and fishing interests.

"We need to get to the point where we have an agreement about what the best of use of space is."

Mr Mallard said there was also some legislation being worked through that aimed to facilitate the aquaculture industry.

"This is an endorsement of an industry with a future."

TDC chief executive Paul Wylie said aquaculture was one of the next big things and he hoped the funding and legislation would signal real progress on the water.

"We welcome the Government's commitment and the ratepayers will certainly be pleased to see some government money helping ease the burden on them, because it's been quite a cost to the ratepayer over earlier years and they haven't seen much for it.

"We really welcome that assistance now, and look forward to a result."

Council environment and planning manager Dennis Bush-King said Tasman had about 80ha of marine farming, as well as areas of seasonal spat catching, and a further 700ha was consented for marine farms.


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