New rules provide consistent consent processes for existing marine farms

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The Government is moving to cut the complexity involved with re-consenting existing marine farms by creating a consistent set of rules across the country. 

Cabinet has approved policy provisions for the drafting of a National Environmental Standard for Marine Aquaculture (NES). Following drafting of the new regulations, the NES will go to Cabinet for a final decision in early 2020, Environment Minister David Parker and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said.  

“The NES cuts red tape by standardising rules nationally for renewals of existing marine farms.  

“This achieves the right balance for industry and councils,” David Parker said. 

Stuart Nash said at present, each regional council has its own set of rules for managing replacement marine farm consents.  

“Our goal is to make it easier for councils and industry to operate under a single set of rules for existing farms,” he said.  

“The new rules are in line with best environmental practice and are expected to encourage more investment in operating sustainably as well as driving innovation and growth.”

 The proposed NES seeks to:

  • provide a more efficient and certain consent process for managing existing marine farms within environmental limits; and
  • implement a nationally-consistent framework for biosecurity management on all marine farms.

It is important to establish a nationally consistent system at this time, because 689 existing marine farm consents, representing 60 per cent of industry are due to expire within the next seven years.  

“Marine farming generated more than $600 million in revenue last year and brings jobs and opportunities to local communities. We have heard industry’s feedback that a more efficient regulatory framework is essential to achieving its aspiration of $1 billion annual earnings,” Stuart Nash said. 

The project to develop this NES was led by Fisheries New Zealand with the support of the Ministry for the Environment, and the Department of Conservation. 

The new rules will focus public input on the management of existing marine farms to a more strategic regional planning level through participation in regional coastal plan processes. 

The Cabinet paper will be available on the Fisheries New Zealand and Ministry for the Environment websites.

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