Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture)
: I move,
That the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be referred to the Primary Production Committee.
Before I go any further, I wish to acknowledge the work of the Ministry of Fisheries chief executive Wayne McNee, his staff members Emma Taylor and Scott Gallacher, and their teams. Their commitment to the development of this bill has been outstanding. Given that our chief executive Wayne McNee is now moving to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, it is fitting to recognise him today, as this is one of the significant pieces of work that he has led, when in office over the last 3 years. I cannot go on, though, without thanking the rest of the team: Kristin, Christine, Mary Beth, Jessie, Sam, John, Tania, Katrinka, Andrew, Phil, Daniel, Frances, Ada, Emma, Mark, Cathy, Tim, Don, and Demelza, for all the work that they have done. The process has been onerous to work through and to make sure that we have satisfied all those who have a stake in our coastal environment—in particular, those who want to make some economic benefit from it while maintaining the wonderful coastline that we have, and the environmental surrounds.
This bill will reform aquaculture legislation. It will provide an efficient legislative regulatory framework that enables marine-based aquaculture to fulfil its economic potential. We want to do that while ensuring that development is environmentally sustainable and balanced with other uses of our coastal space. There is considerable opportunity for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry to grow, and its potential is yet to be reached. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector in the world. There is a demand for high-quality produce that is farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner, which is something that New Zealand is well-placed to meet and has a track record of meeting. The Government is committed, as part of its economic growth agenda, to enable the aquaculture industry to grow.
Growth in aquaculture and an increase in export earnings will create jobs in farming, processing, and related activity, particularly in the regions. It is worth pointing out that the investment when a marine farmer starts marine farming in this country is on the water, on the shoreline with processing, and also in overseas markets. It is a big bullet to chew off. Growth will come from increases in the average value of production, through making better use of existing space, and from research and innovation into different species and new technologies in that existing space. Growth will also come from expanding the volume of production through the development of new space, and that is critical.
The Government is committed to ensuring that aquaculture development is environmentally sustainable and takes place within the integrated coastal management framework. That is part of the reason why we have decided to keep development within the Resource Management Act. Stringent tests are already in place to ensure that all aquaculture development takes place within acceptable environmental limits. Those tests will remain under the new law. The undue adverse effects test, which protects the
interests of commercial, customary, and recreational fishers, is an essential part of the framework for aquaculture, and will also remain.
However, there is a need to simplify and streamline processes, and to provide a kick-start to industry growth after years of frustrated opportunity and potential. For instance, the current law requires that aquaculture management areas must be established in regional coastal plans before applicants can apply for resource consents, but that approach has not worked in practice. Poor incentives for council and industry to plan and invest have resulted in no new aquaculture space being created under this regime since its commencement in 2005. This bill will normalise aquaculture within the Resource Management Act framework by removing the requirement for aquaculture management areas. That will allow applicants to apply directly for resource consents, subject to the provisions in the regional coastal plan. That is already the case with most other activities, so we are normalising the aquaculture regime. Planning and consenting processes will be streamlined, and there will be better integration between Fisheries Act and Resource Management Act processes. That will reduce costs for industry and provide stronger incentives for development. Regional councils will be better able to respond to demand for space in the coastal marine area. The bill will provide more efficient access to an alternative to the “first in, first served” basis that we have seen in the past.
The bill will also enable the Government to take a more active role in aquaculture planning. The bill creates a new ministerial power to recommend the making of regulations that amend aquaculture-related provisions in regional coastal plans. We do not foresee that power being used without talking to the public and, in particular, to the regional councils involved. Clear parameters are established for the use of that power. Those parameters include, among other things, a requirement for consultation and the requirement that the use of the power must be relative to achieving the purpose of the Resource Management Act. Use of the power will not in itself enable new aquaculture activities to go ahead. Applicants will still need to apply for consents in accordance with normal processes, and those consents will be judged on their environmental production and merits as listed under the Resource Management Act.
Some planned changes will be made directly through the enactment of this bill. We have decided to step in and make some legislative changes to plans. These changes are in regions where current plan provisions present the greatest barriers to aquaculture growth, and where the opportunities for sustainable development within acceptable environmental limits are the greatest. The amended plans will enable applicants to be active for the farming of a wider range of species, including finfish, and some expansion of existing farms. Those changes will provide a much needed stimulus to investment and growth.
The bill includes measures to bring existing marine farmers into the new regime with minimal disturbance. It will enable the processing of a backlog of applications, including those frozen—effectively, in limbo—under the current law. In most cases, processing will be able to proceed on commencement of the new law, subject to the provisions of the relevant regional coastal plan.
The Government is also committed to ensuring that the Crown continues to uphold the Māori commercial aquaculture settlement. The bill retains the core components of the settlement, including all rights associated with the 20 percent of new space created from 1 January 2005. A new mechanism for delivering those obligations is needed as a consequence of changes to remove the requirement that aquaculture activities must be located within aquaculture management areas. We have begun a process of engagement with iwi to discuss how best to deliver on the settlement in light of the reforms introduced in this bill. I hope to be in a position to introduce the necessary provisions
later in the legislative process. Pending development of an intended mechanism, the bill provides for the Crown’s obligations in respect of the new space to be delivered by providing either space or an agreed equivalent.
I acknowledge the work of the Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group, which reported in October last year. It is very important for me to do so. I acknowledge the contribution of the many interested parties who made submissions on that report or provided input into the policy development process.
This bill lays the foundation for the next stage in the growth of an exciting industry, with real potential for sustainable economic development within acceptable environmental limits and a balanced use of our coastal space. I thank all those who were involved in its development, particularly those in the team within the Ministry of Fisheries that engaged so well with marine farmers, those in the environmental protection sector throughout New Zealand, and those in regional councils. I appreciate their work.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti)
: We support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) going to a select committee, but there are a whole lot of questions on the journey through and after the select committee that we would like answered.
The bill makes some significant change to the current regime. We have serious reservations regarding the regulatory power being given to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to change regional and coastal plans without appropriate public consultation. As he said, the group that went out to consult and travel around the country has come back with a report that still needs to be worked over.
The bill supposedly aims to provide a legislative and regulatory framework that enables the sustainable development of aquaculture. We are certainly supportive of that. This bill is an omnibus bill, which amends the Resource Management Act 1991, the Fisheries Act 1998, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004. It will be divided into four separate bills during the Committee stage. The majority of the bill is due to come into effect on 1 July 2011, and, if we are able to support that objective, we certainly would be interested in the Minister’s answers.
This certainly spells out the complexity of this bill and the activity as we have seen in past years. The bill incorporates some of Labour’s Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2), which was reported back from the select committee in September 2009. However, as this bill removes the requirement for aquaculture management areas, the crossover between the bills is limited.
The major change in this bill is the removal of aquaculture management areas. The bill gives the Minister significant new powers. Specifically, it gives him or her the power to override regional coastal plans that have been developed and agreed to by councils and locals. Essentially, it undermines the process of developing a regional coastal plan. Treasury itself expressed some significant reservations about the creation of this power: “The power is not consistent with the RMA, and wider resource management reform is currently under development. This power is a fundamental departure from devoted regional decision-making and integrated resource decision-making.” We have heard heaps of talk, especially in the health area, about taking it to the front to where the local regions develop things. This bill seems to be more of a centralising and pulling back of those powers that had been developed, when local communities and regions were trusted to ensure that what is imbued in any progress for this great industry is something that they helped to design and develop. Treasury also notes that this power only adds to uncertainty for investors, who will be unsure—and this is a critical and crucial part—about whether or not the Minister will exercise the
power. That is one of the big questions. It also ties the hands of councils in the consent process by requiring them to grant consents for a minimum term of 20 years.
The changes in this bill are part of a wider programme that includes the establishment of an aquaculture business unit, which is to be supported within the Ministry of Fisheries. But Cabinet papers released by the Minister are not clear on just how much the total cost of establishing and running the unit will be, given that we have seen the Public Service purposely run down. It is certainly a concern that the risks, at minimum, include issues such as the fact that it could have unintended impacts on other Government objectives—for example, the ability of councils to consistently manage the coastal marine area—it could encourage councils to act more conservatively, leading to a greater propensity to decline consent applications, and it could use other means to manage uncertainty, such as placing special limits on development of farms.
We need to ask some interesting questions about the supposed well-repealed foreshore and seabed legislation and the relevance to the takutai moana legislation. One has to ask how this impact on that legislation. Where does it line up with that, if surety is to be given to iwi? It was certainly interesting to hear that the Minister was engaged with iwi, so we look forward to seeing how that will line up with the foreshore and seabed legislation.
Hon Christopher Finlayson: Very well.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am pleased to hear the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations say it will line up pretty well. I am very encouraged by that, but I am not too sure whether he has read this bill and understood the difficulties and complexities in it. We need to ask how this will get Māori into the industry. There are no guarantees. What the Labour-led Government did do was lead and sign off the allocation to iwi.
The other question is how the industry will be established if there is no time line for the establishment of actual aquaculture areas. That is the guessing within this legislation. How will they be set up if there is no time line? It just seems that there is quite an unbelievable allowance available to the Minister to just do what he or she wants to do.
The other issue is in relation to fishing quota holders. The holders may be weakened if there is inadequate compensation for the aquaculture areas that are designated. That could be dangerous for iwi, given their big economic stake in the industry. It is critical to watch that and understand whether this bill will lighten and speed the process up.
The bill gives the Minister broad powers to change, introduce, or remove provisions relevant to the management of aquaculture in a regional coastal plan. He or she can do that without a requirement to consult the community affected, although he or she is required to consult the relevant regional council. I think we are seeing the start of one of these hand-ons to Ministers where, irrespective of the consensus view, the Minister has this autonomous, stand-alone power.
Interesting statements came out in the writings in the supporting papers about the fact that there is some risk that amendments made through the exercise of this power will have unintended consequences. It is critical to have that understood at the outset before we go to the select committee, because there are a whole host of things that need to be redefined. I am afraid that some of them have not been redefined and it just seems to be a kludge of some people’s thoughts, but the complexity is added to in relation to giving the Minister that autonomous power.
Treasury does not support the creation of that power, which is very interesting. It is Treasury’s view that the power does not offer anything substantial beyond what already exists. That is the big question. Within the Resource Management Act central government already has a full suite of options for intervening. Those options can be
used to achieve the same outcome as the proposed power, but there is the important difference that they fit within the Resource Management Act framework. That is a huge question that needs to be answered. The tools and the means in the legislation are already there, so what is this bill about? Is it just about allocating unbridled power to an individual Minister to ensure that he or she can choose to do what he or she wants to do, whenever? The power is not integral to achieving the aims of the reforms. The package of reform options already significantly removes barriers that exist for aquaculture and provides measures for promoting the industry. This option provides a signal but it does not achieve anything substantial. I repeat that the tools and passageways via the present legislation are already there.
We certainly will support the bill going to the select committee, but on the way we want those questions answered. What are the unintended consequences, and how will the Minister ensure that there is a commitment and recognition of what local communities and councils need? We certainly will be watching this bill with interest and we look forward to the debate and discussion.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment)
: I am delighted to be part of a Government that sees the potential of the aquaculture industry and what it can do for job and wealth creation in this country. I congratulate the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture on the hard work that has gone into creating the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I challenge the previous speaker, the Hon Parekura Horomia, about Labour’s record and what it did in aquaculture. That speaks volumes about the difference in values and in skills between this National-led Government and what occurred in the time of the previous administration.
Firstly, I will talk about the opportunities that there are for us to create jobs and wealth from aquaculture. Few countries in the world are as blessed as New Zealand is with ocean space and fertile waters in which to grow aquaculture. A bit over a decade ago I was privileged to be invited on an ANZAC Fellowship to visit Australia, and I said then that New Zealand was a long way ahead of Australia. In the 1990s we saw the size of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry grow threefold, and no region benefited from that growth as much as Nelson and Marlborough. But over the last decade Australia has gone way ahead of us. Let us see what occurred and put the record straight. Labour passed new aquaculture legislation in 2005. Members opposite said the legislation was the gateway to growing a billion-dollar industry. I simply put this question to members opposite: how many new aquaculture management areas have been created since Labour’s legislation was passed in 2005? Were there 10, or 5? [Interruption] I say to Steve Chadwick that not one was created. We had the World Food Programme identifying aquaculture as one of the most promising areas for growth in the production of protein and food, yet in New Zealand, which exports a greater proportion of food than any other country, frankly, the members opposite blew it when they were in Government.
The 2005 legislation was a disaster. Let me tell the Labour members why it did not work. It was a very fundamental—
Hon Steve Chadwick: We did nothing.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Steve Chadwick chips in. I tell her that she needs to listen. The truth is, I say to Steve Chadwick, that not one new marine farm was established under Labour’s aquaculture legislation. I will explain to her why that was the case, because it explains some of Labour’s naivety and why members opposite do not have the acumen and ability to grow the New Zealand economy. You see, what Labour did was this. The rules of the 2005 legislation stated that someone who went to the expense of applying to a regional council for consent for a new aquaculture management area, at an expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars, spent all that money, yet under
Labour’s law had absolutely no right to any of that space. Should we be surprised that with those sorts of perverse incentives, nobody has ever bothered to apply? You see, if this country is to grow its aquaculture industry up to the billion-dollar industry that it has the potential to be, we need to get the incentives right. The incentives in the law that was passed by Labour do not work, and that is why this law change is required.
What does this bill do? First, Labour put a blanket ban from Kaitāia to Bluff on any new marine farm, unless it was in one of the narrowly prescribed aquaculture management areas. Should we then be surprised that nobody has been able to lodge a consent and progress a new marine farm? Nor did Labour address the very real issue that in many of our areas that are owned and good for developing marine farming, the species are very narrowly defined. That is why this bill quite sensibly provides measures by which an area that is suitable for marine farming is able to be farmed for different species. I know that you, Mr Assistant Speaker Roy, are interested in oysters. There is a lot of potential for growth in that industry and you would not believe the bureaucracy that a marine farmer has to go through to be able to develop a new area of oyster farming. I welcome that change.
I also commend my colleague Kate Wilkinson, the Minister of Conservation, because part of her work has been to ensure that our policies are aligned with the growth of the aquaculture industry. In the revised coastal policies statement that my colleague Kate Wilkinson has signed off, we provide a very clear signal in the framework of resource management that this Government wants to see the growth of the aquaculture industry. By aligning that new coastal policy statement with the provisions in this bill, we will provide opportunities for growth.
There are provisions in this bill that say use it or lose it. We do not want speculators to simply apply for large amounts of marine space, then not produce a single dollar of wealth for New Zealand. It is absolutely proper that Phil Heatley has included in this bill tighter provisions to make sure that those who acquire marine space actually develop that space, thereby creating wealth and jobs for New Zealanders.
I also support the provisions in this bill that provide 20 years of certainty for marine farmers. That is the bit that members opposite do not understand, and I was concerned that Mr Horomia opposed those provisions. If we are to get investors to take a punt, and if we are to get private people to invest in the aquaculture industry, we need to provide them with the certainty that is provided for in this bill.
I will also outline how this bill fits into the Government’s broader programme of resource management reforms. This is just one of a stream of 10 areas of work where we are working hard to make sure that the Resource Management Act works well with a blue-green approach, making sure that we properly manage the environment but also making sure that we get the job opportunities and economic growth that this country can responsibly create from its rich natural resources.
There is an important job for the select committee to do on this bill. The bill is very detailed. It is complex law, and the Minister has done a great job in getting it to the House. I simply say to this House that if we are serious about growing the economy, if we are serious about closing the gap with Australia, and if we are serious about growing the aquaculture industry into a billion-dollar industry, we need to back this bill. We need to have sensible rules that will enable the growth of that industry. I commend the work of the Minister and this bill to the House.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR (Labour)
: Labour will support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) going to a select committee, because we too understand the need to clarify a number of things that have bogged down the aquaculture industry. None the less, the reality for many in the industry is that the international markets have not been great over the last few years, and, in some bizarre
way, the lack of any further space development has probably helped protect those who are currently producing to get a slightly better return in the market place.
I would like to follow on from the Hon Nick Smith, who needs to have a few points clarified, because it is not often that he comes to the House to clarify things, and he certainly confused things. The dilemma we face in aquaculture is a direct result of the National Government’s Resource Management Act, which left regional councils, regardless of their capability or knowledge, to develop plans to manage all of the things in the coastal areas that, strictly speaking, they did not have responsibility for but had been asked to manage. In Tasman, where there was a unitary council, Nick Smith campaigned to get rid of the unitary council, and a whole lot of people there think that that was a major blue, I have to say. The unitary council in Tasman had not foreseen the growth potential in aquaculture and had not put in place a coastal management plan and a resource plan that adequately addressed the huge number of applications for coastal space. Under the Resource Management Act passed by the National Government, there was a clear obligation to manage the applications on a “first come, first served” basis. Some regional councils that did not have huge pressure from aquaculture put in place some basic requirements. Marlborough, on the other hand, moved forward and developed a reasonably robust scheme for managing applications. In fact, it moved on and—
Hon Member: It was under a unitary authority.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: Yes, some work well; some do not. It addressed the issue. But in Tasman there was a flood of applications by a bunch of speculators who thought they would rush out to get the space and that someone would come along later on who might want to grow some mussels, or do something else. Mr King knows the truth of this. So when Labour was in Government, there was a huge amount of litigation—expensive litigation. The personal cost was quite high for a number of people involved in that, and I offer them my sympathy. They were caught up in a legislative vacuum, perhaps in the absence of any clarification by Tasman District Council, in the attempt to sort out who got first rights and where these applications should be approved. The spaces were huge in area, so something had to be done. We got in and attempted to do that, keeping in mind, and we put in place, the obligation for 20 percent of new space to go to Māori, as has happened with quota. We got to that point, put in place a few principal positions, and said there had to be a process for developing aquaculture management areas and then a process for applying for space within those.
Yes, hindsight would say that we did not get that quite right. We would admit that, but it was with the best of intentions. This legislation addresses a number of those problems; I accept that. But it also hands over a huge amount of responsibility to a Minister, and that will not offer investors or industry much certainty. We were reluctant in Government to have ministerial discretion, and preferred to have in place a robust and independent process. We attempted to provide that through aquaculture legislation. We know that if we hand over ultimate responsibility and decision-making to a Minister, it will be all right if we are in Government and can trust our Minister, but if, as happens in a democracy, another bunch of loonies gets into power, we do not know whether the new Minister will have the knowledge or the right ethical and moral judgment to make the right decisions. If we look at what has happened within the National Party in the last few weeks, we would have to say there are some Ministers who do not have the best guidance on ethical and moral judgments, so how will any investor ensure that they get a fair assessment of their application, and a fair go at getting a positive decision on their application? In the end, it is up to the Minister.
That is one area we will scrutinise closely in the select committee, because we still believe that an independent, transparent process is the fairest way for all business in this
country to operate, so that businesses are not battered around by the winds of ignorance, different ethical judgments, or politicking, so that they get a fair go to develop a business, get access to a bit of space, and get on to develop some exports for the country. Although this bill makes some progress in some key areas, ultimately it leaves ministerial discretion as the last port of call for decision making, and in our view that is a big worry.
There are some existing problems within the aquaculture industry that really need to be addressed, and I take the opportunity during the debate on this bill to ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who has come into the House, what he is doing about scallop management in Golden Bay. In both Tasman and Golden Bay there has been a programme of management and enhancement, with 20 percent of the industry’s income coming back into enhancement, and it has worked OK for quite some time, but for the last few years it has been disastrous. Something needs to happen to improve the commercial potential—not the commercial business, because there is none in Golden Bay, and the industry cannot take any out—of scallops, an industry that has been established and has huge potential, but is now failing. The Minister needs to give us some steer as to how he will improve that situation before we embark upon a new wave of aquaculture that, without the right safeguards and proper management, might result in a whole lot of businesses falling over or failing. We do not want to see that. We want people who are prepared to invest to go out, create exports, and get some good returns and profits on their investments.
I will go through a few key provisions in the bill. There have been changes. The fact is that there is now no requirement for aquaculture management areas. There are some interim areas under the Tasman District Council that are almost through to completion point; they will still be in place, and I think that is a good call, provided for in this legislation. The 20-year minimum requirement for aquaculture consents is OK. It gives some certainty for investment, but it is a long time, and it effectively gives up to 35 years, which is the maximum allowed, of private property rights over what is, I guess, the seabed and the foreshore, and particularly the seabed. We still have major legislation to pass through the House to establish some rights in that area, so it is an area of uncertainty for the industry, I would say.
The re-consenting process for marine farmers has been simplified. That is smart, and we welcome it. The undue adverse effects test asks whether an activity affects anyone else, and that is really at the heart of the problem here. Those people who have wet-fish quota, and those who might be scallop farmers, for example, do not like green-lipped mussel farms coming in over the top of them. The real battle in this area is within the industry. It has not been between the Government, be it Labour or National, and industry; it has been within the industry over who has preferential rights to sea space. The test of undue adverse effects, and the removal of the right to take a case right through to the High Court, are good things. Litigation and big money have bogged progress in aquaculture as much as inadequate legislation has done.
I have spoken about the power of the Minister. I think it is alarming, and, indeed, Treasury itself has spoken of that danger. Treasury has stated that the power is not consistent with the Resource Management Act and the wider resource management reforms that are currently under development. Referring to the Government’s own adviser through Treasury, we see there are some dangers in this legislation. We will support the bill going to the select committee, but we will be scrutinising it very carefully.
GARETH HUGHES (Green)
: Kia ora, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Kiwis love our oceans. Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet and represent 95 percent of the biosphere, and in New Zealand our waters are particularly special.
Members may not have noticed, but a few weeks back the big biodiversity conference wrapped up in Nagoya, Japan. The 10th meeting of the Conference on Biological Diversity received both brickbats and bouquets. Delegates heard that we are in the midst of a great extinction event, with species disappearing at a rate between 100 and possibly 10,000 times greater than the historical level.
The biodiversity crisis is particularly important, and it is global. It requires international solutions. We used to think, when we looked at our oceans, that they were unlimited, and that it would be impossible for humans to fundamentally impact and change our oceans. However, climate change, ocean acidification, oil and mineral exploitation, whaling, overfishing, and pollution are all taking their toll on our marine environment. A major recommendation from scientists at the conference was that some areas just need to be off limits to humans.
In Nagoya, under the agreed protocol, Governments committed to protecting 17 percent of the land and 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020. The 10 percent by 2020 protected area target sounds impressive, but it is similar to something we have heard before in this Parliament, which was: “New Zealand? Ten percent by 2020? Pah!’, said the New Zealand Government, because we already had a 10 percent by 2010 target. If members had heard our delegates in Nagoya, they would have heard them say that we are doing great, and we are almost there, and that 7 percent of our territorial sea is in marine reserve. What they forgot to mention, of course, is that it is not just the territorial sea that is counted, but our marine area, our exclusive economic zone. It is a total area of 4.15 million hectares, which is less than close, when we take into account the fact that only 0.3 percent is in marine reserves. Add in marine mammal sanctuaries, and our marine protected area is a paltry 0.77 percent, which is a long way off the 10 percent by 2010 target. With 3 months to go until the deadline, how are we going? Do we have much chance of meeting that target? Not likely, considering this Government has introduced a moratorium on marine reserves in the exclusive economic zone until 2013, last year it stopped the Department of Conservation from applying for marine reserves, and in Akaroa it declined a marine reserve application because of recreational fishing impacts.
I mention this in order to highlight the role of the Greens in this House, which is to be a voice for the environment, and to talk about the sustainability issues that are often ignored in the pursuit of profit. The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3), on the whole, ignores sustainability issues. This omnibus—
Jacqui Dean: Silly man.
GARETH HUGHES: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence to being called a silly man by the member opposite.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: We are called many things in this House. This is a debating chamber. I am sure the member will, over time, hear other things.
GARETH HUGHES: I may be a silly man, but I am not talking about silly issues. This omnibus bill deals with removing barriers to commercial aquaculture, which is just one aspect of how Kiwis interact with the ocean for pleasure, profit, and conservation. The message we are bringing into this House is that we cannot look at aquaculture in isolation. We need some joined-up thinking. New Zealand has some 5,800 hectares occupied, including freshwater farms, in some 1,200 marine farms.
Aquaculture can be good, with the right species in the right place; however, it must be sustainable. We cannot be establishing an aquaculture system that will just crash and burn. We heard from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that by 2020 it is estimated that aquaculture will make up 58 percent of worldwide seafood production. What the Minister did not answer was why we would be doing that. What has happened to all the fish that are wild? What has happened to them? We have simply eaten them.
Looking to the future of the aquaculture industry, we are hearing talk of around $1 billion in earnings by 2025. Aquaculture New Zealand estimates that that will require some 17,000 hectares of inshore mussel farms, or approximately 10 times that amount for offshore farms. We support ecologically sustainable aquaculture and we support economic development. But the Greens will be voting against this bill, because we believe it is the marine equivalent of the 1991 Building Act. It is establishing, through lack of planning and lack of regulations, huge problems downstream.
The Minister quoted the
Food and Agriculture Organization, but forgot to point out also what that organisation says about the environmental impacts. The Food and Agriculture Organization points to pollution, nitrification, transmission of diseases, and displacing other activities like marine protected areas, that would come on account of this bill. Between 1985 and 1995—and I know we are not talking about shrimp fisheries; we are talking about finfish fisheries in this bill—36 million tonnes of wild-caught fish was used as feed to produce only 7.2 million tonnes of shrimp. This bill will make it easier to farm finfish in New Zealand, which will have massive impacts. Around the world 31 million tonnes of wild-caught fish was fed to other fish. This will hugely impact on our “clean, green” brand. Around the world, our fisheries have been called into doubt by the
TheEconomist, and by the
New York Times; even the Queen will not eat orange roughy from New Zealand any more. We need to take account of the impact of sustainability issues.
I will now quickly go through some of our concerns with this bill, including the lost opportunities for spatial planning in relation to the aquaculture agency, and the lack of local decision-making in the coastal plans. Firstly, when looking at spatial planning, we can see that there are many activities that occur in New Zealand’s marine area, such as fishing, boating, water sports, and enjoying conservation, and aquaculture should not be seen in isolation. We need to take an integrated approach in this bill.
Green Party policy supports integrated marine ecosystem planning. According to the Environmental Defence Society and other experts, best practice involves heading towards integrated marine spatial planning. This bill does not create a comprehensive integrated mechanism to replace the regional aquaculture management areas. The Environmental Defence Society submitted to the initial technical advisory group report that integrated spatial planning—or a similar framework—should be in place before we remove the red tape for accelerated commercial development.
When looking to the aquaculture agency, we agree with the Environmental Defence Society’s concern that the representation of industry interests, as well as responsibility for setting environmental standards, the drafting of national policy, and the management of the environmental impacts of aquaculture, are too many functions to be vested in one agency. The greater role of central government in aquaculture development creates potential conflicts of interest, whereby the regulator of the activity is also the advocate for the activity. This can lead to under-regulation and poor environmental outcomes. In a nutshell, it is not good policy or practice for the industry’s promoter also to be the regulator.
Lastly, the bill follows poor legislative and democratic processes by directly amending the two regional coastal plans. That is a bit of a trend of this Government, whereby it will sack entire regional councils in Canterbury, change waterway plans, such as the ones developed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council for Transmission Gully, and call in giant motorway projects, such as Waterview Connection in Auckland, and allow the community very little time to consult on it. Or, as in the case of Mana, the community will have no ability to know where the motorway is, as the route will not be announced before members of the community have their most powerful democratic function—their power to deliver a message with their vote in the
ballot box. This Government will not even tell the voters of Mana where the motorway is going or whose houses will be bowled for this development.
When it comes to questions of local democratic involvement, this Government errs on the side of the corporate. It errs massively in its own interests, in order to ram through—much like we will be doing under urgency again tonight—issues such as this. This bill also follows poor legislative and democratic process in that it changes the coastal plans to allow for the application for consents to develop finfish farming, which has significantly different and more extensive environmental impacts than shellfish farming. It is not clear whether large-scale finfish farming could be ecologically or economically sustainable in the medium to long term. This should be studied, and there should be local, democratic input into these plan changes.
In conclusion, the select committee process will allow greater investigation and, despite voting against this bill, we look forward to engaging with it in the select committee. We hope this bill can be improved to better achieve its aims, but we think the fundamental approach will make it difficult for the bill to be amended to the point where the Greens will support it. This bill is about making it easier and faster for corporate aquaculture to grow. We are not opposed to economic development and aquaculture in general, but it must be planned, it must be regulated, and there must be sustainability. What we are doing here is like that other great folly in this House: we are replicating the 1991 Building Act. We will see huge problems in our marine environment down the line. Kia ora.
RAHUI KATENE (Māori Party—Te Tai Tonga)
: The House is now immersed in a debate on yet another omnibus bill. The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) makes amendments to the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Resource Management Act 1991. On its own, this legislation may seem like just a technical clean-up, or another piece of legislation driven by administrative purposes.
As the MP for Te Tai Tonga, I will bring two important points of distinction in speaking to this bill. The first is that it has been 6 years since the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act was passed. Urgent progress must proceed to ensure iwi get the full value from that settlement. The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 provided a full and final settlement of Māori commercial aquaculture interests since 21 September 1992. I remember the advent of that legislation very clearly. It was something that iwi from Te Tau Ihu, or the top of the South Island, for those not in the know, were especially interested in. The purpose of the 2004 legislation was to enable the marine farming industry to continue growing without risk of litigation relating to contemporary Treaty grievances, and to ensure iwi access to coastal marine space to develop their marine farming interests. The proposed legislation is arguably, then, a work in progress, especially in consideration of the changes aimed at simplifying the process in relation to the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities. It is also a means of achieving incremental progress, taking into account the interim measure put in place to allow for the continuation of the 20 percent allocation mechanism for Māori interests in aquaculture.
Our sources tell us that aquaculture management areas have not at all been successfully designated by regional authorities, due to a lack of resourcing and planning capacity. The main problem with that is that in order to allocate the 20 percent of new space for Māori aquaculture activities under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act, those areas need to be established. So the purpose of this new bill is to streamline planning and consenting processes by removing the requirement for aquaculture management areas, to provide stronger incentives for industry development
while maintaining existing processes to ensure environmental limits are respected, to enable central government to take a more active role in aquaculture planning and consenting, and to honour the settlement under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.
I will speak to that last point in more detail, because it is the second point of distinction that the Māori Party brings to this debate. This legislation is not just about tidying up the statutes for the purpose of housekeeping. It has a long whakapapa with whānau, hapū, and iwi who seek genuine progress in respect of their connections with their maunga, awa, moana, marae, tūpuna, and atua.
I want to share a little story with members about my own whānau experience. Many years ago, the people of Waitohi were moved by the Government at the time from Waitohi to Waikawa so that the Picton township could be built where they were living. At that time, Waikawa was a swamp, and my uncle, Mike Reeves, was born and raised in Waikawa. He has talked to me about life in the mid-1940s in Waikawa, when both sea and freshwater food were plentiful. The whānau regularly benefited from the ample supplies of lamprey eel and ordinary silver-bellied eel found in the swamp from the beach. This was also a breeding area for whitebait and thousands of baby flounder, right across Waikawa Pā foreshore. In those times of plenty, the people enjoyed fresh flounder, scallops, cockles, and pipi, and tons of herrings and mackerel. There was also a huge snapper area on the west side of the bay. In the bay itself there was plentiful blue cod, pāua, and kina. The whānau went to their beach to pick mussels, kopakopa, and other kai moana. For those people who are listening, I will stop right now to give them a chance to stop salivating. But this is not a good news story. Eventually, the Waikawa Marina was dug out and the land was reclaimed by uplifting the seabed and filling in the beautiful swamp. In that one act of human intervention, the people were robbed of their source of natural, healthy sea and freshwater food because of the marina pollution. Their scallops have shifted out of the bay into deeper water because of pollution, and the only shellfish left, kopakopa, is way out in the bay.
If we fast forward to 2010, we see that Port Marlborough wants to shift the shellfish from where it has been for hundreds of years by extending the marina so that more wealthy outsiders can moor their expensive toys there. So the bill comes at a very good time for our people, who are outraged at the decisions that local authorities continue to make, which are seemingly more focused on profits than people, and more focused on financial return rather than the long-term environmental health and well-being of the people.
There are certainly issues within this legislation on which I would seek the expert advice and knowledge of our whānau leaders, like my uncle Mike Reeves. I am thinking particularly about the nature of the new space allocation mechanism. The proposed reforms seem to normalise aquaculture by removing the need to create aquaculture management areas and rebranding across the board all aquaculture activities as coastal permits. There is concern that this is an interim measure with no clear indication as to what will replace it and when it will be replaced. In our opinion, this issue should be finalised first, before the legislation is progressed. In fact, if we were to talk with any of our people involved in aquaculture, I suggest we would hear that their main focus would be that the 20 percent allocation of new space for aquaculture activities should be increased, not removed.
We all accept that the current legislation has not worked as it should have, because not enough progress has been made in the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities by regional councils. The proposed reforms on the allocation of new space, although not ideal, are at least a step forward in simplifying the complex process of allocating new space for aquaculture activities. But, and this is the crucial thing, we
must see ongoing and formalised consultation with iwi as a vital step in making progress. The commitment shown in regard to future consultation with iwi leaders on this issue is encouraging. The Māori Party promotes ongoing and continuing engagement with Ministers and iwi leaders in the hope of reaching a speedy resolution that can promote the development of the aquaculture industry and secure a central position in that industry for iwi.
Just for the record, I will outline some of the key understandings we have in respect of iwi leaders operating in this and other fora with Ministers. The role of the Iwi Leadership Group is strictly focused on advising Ministers on the development of options that best advance iwi interests. It is to be noted, however, that members of the Iwi Leadership Group do not purport to speak for or represent any iwi other than their own; no one-size-fits-all template provides the generic iwi answer. Accordingly, the Iwi Leadership Group does not have a mandate to negotiate or reach agreements on behalf of any iwi. Its focus is on reporting back to iwi both directly through e-pānui and hui as required, and through regular meetings of the Iwi Chairs Forum.
Finally, it should be noted that engagement between Ministers and the Iwi Leadership Group does not derogate from the Treaty relationship between iwi and the Crown, and it is no substitute for direct engagement between the Treaty partners.
With all these principles in mind, I acknowledge the leadership of iwi and record our respect for the views that they bring, including the views of experts from regions with interests in aquaculture, as well as outside expertise where that is required.
I remember what my Uncle Mike keeps fighting for: a quality of life; a clean, pristine environment; the ability to go to the beach and pick one’s own food; and leaving behind a legacy of beauty for our mokopuna. The Māori Party welcomes the open-door approach and will support this bill at the first reading to enable the kōrero to be had.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture)
: In my introductory speech, I should have pointed out that I wanted the Primary Production Committee to consider the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) and that the committee will report its findings to the House on or before 27 April 2011. I would like to inform the House of that and I seek leave to do so.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki - King Country)
: I rise in support of the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). It has been interesting to listen to the speeches from both sides of the House, and particularly to the reasons of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for coming forward with the bill. As the chair of the Primary Production Committee, I tell members that the committee undertook a study tour of South Australia last year, and one of the things that overwhelmed me—I do not know that it overwhelmed anybody else but it overwhelmed me—was the massive growth we saw in aquaculture in South Australia. It has got to the point now that it represents about one-third of the South Australian economy. So the obvious questions to ask in that process were: at what environmental cost was that growth, and at what other costs? I have to report back to the House that from the amount of research we were able to do with the people we spoke to, who were from both scientific backgrounds and environmental backgrounds, and of course at the meetings we had with parliamentarians there, we learnt that the amount of environmental impact has been, at the best, very minimal.
So from that I can answer some of the concerns raised by the Green Party in its contribution earlier on, and by the Hon Damien O’Connor, who said that he feared the powers that the Minister might have under the proposals of this omnibus bill, which at a later stage in the parliamentary process will be divided up into more than one bill. I
guess that to some extent I can sympathise with those concerns. But if New Zealand were to have a Labour Government with a Green Minister, then the aquaculture industry would not progress, at all. There would be no progress, at all, in this industry. In fact, if we look at what has happened in recent history, we can see that there has been no progress in this industry—an industry that potentially has up to $1 billion worth of export earnings.
If we look at what New Zealand’s low-hanging fruit will be in terms of potential for growth going forward, we see that it will be—without a doubt in my mind—the export of high-quality protein products, with integrity and traceability; we can tick all of those boxes. The concept of the triple bottom line, which is touted much by those on the Green side of the political divide, is not a new concept to those of us who have been involved in the farming industry for years. The idea of having a balance between economic, social, and environmental concerns is something that is absolutely fundamental to the New Zealand economy, to our way of life, and to the farming systems we employ.
Under the current legislation there are aquacultural management areas, which in the last 5 years have had no new developments, at all, under that regime—none, zero, nothing. Surely that meets the concerns that the Green member raised about the potential environmental impacts—there are none because there has been no development. But we cannot have a growing dynamic economy at the bottom of the South Pacific that is dependent on exports for its way in the world and for the standard of living that we have all come to appreciate and demand from successive Governments—health care, education, high-quality communications, and a high standard of living—without economic development. Those things do not exist when we do not have economic development. So the purpose of the bill is to try to clear some of these regulatory roadblocks that exist in the development of aquaculture in New Zealand.
Aquaculture can be done in a sustainable way, and I am reminded of one of those who spoke to us in South Australia, a person of German descent from about five generations ago. I will not use names because that would personalise it too much, but this person said to us: “We left central Europe five generations ago because of bureaucratic persecution, but last year, after having invested millions of dollars in development in New Zealand—millions of dollars worth of economic development in that country—we left New Zealand for South Australia to escape bureaucratic persecution.” So we need to reflect on that a little bit.
As we grow and develop as a First World country we need to learn the lessons of our forbears, and of our origins. I include tangata whenua in that. Some examples were given by our colleague from the Māori Party of early development in New Zealand that was not, and never would be, environmentally sustainable. Those lessons need to be learnt, along with what we know now through modern science about the potential for us in terms of developing a sustainable, dynamic, and economically viable aquaculture industry.
Different members have touched on the different types of aquaculture farming. One of the things that was very, very obvious to us when we looked not only at the Australian example but also at our own example here in New Zealand was that technology has moved on, and we can now farm finfish in areas where it has been identified that these fish will grow and thrive without having a major environmental impact. They can actually be fed on land-produced feeds, and not on captured wild fish, which, of course, would not be sustainable. So a range of options is now available that were not available even 10 years ago.
I think that members should wait until the bill gets to the select committee. Members should bring their concerns to the committee, as I am sure submitters will. I look forward to the process going forward.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour)
: Kia ora nō tātou. Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Along with my other colleagues I rise to support this bill going to the Primary Production Committee. In 1992 the Hon Doug Kidd was the Minister of Fisheries. During his tenure he identified that aquaculture, by 2010, would produce $1 billion worth of foreign exchange earnings. He then moved on and surfaced many years later as an expert guiding the current Ministers in terms of how those dashed expectations of his might be achieved. I have to say that the range of ideas contained in this bill most certainly should be supported to the select committee and we should listen very carefully to what ideas might come out of the select committee to ensure that the balance does not tip too far one way or the other.
The current value of the aquaculture industry is approximately $370 million, the vast majority of which goes overseas. Indeed, the major mussel stakeholders are about to leave to go to China in the forlorn pursuit, I rather fear, of acting in a cohesive fashion to ensure that we do not continue the curse of so many New Zealand exporters of undercutting their neighbours. This is an opportunity for us to redress what has been a spectacular episode of non-activity and indeed, in the minds of Māori marine farming enterprise owners, a spectacular failure that goes back to key decisions taken by Ministers over the last 3 or 4 years.
In an attempt to respond to the Klondike effect, where people were screaming around the country and actually camping on coastal real estate without having either the capital or the connections to ever develop that space, we unwittingly created in those days a speculative rush. When we had communities that probably had the ability to leverage their other assets and put capital into aquaculture, they found they were being charged extortionate fees to take a secondary stake in this coastal space that had already been locked up by a range of entrepreneurial characters who, as I said, knew not a thing about exporting and who lacked the ability to amass the necessary elements to create any enterprise out of it.
Then we came forward with our response and froze that part of the industry—that is, new space. But I have to say that new space is only part of what is needed in this industry. As with all industries, if we cannot settle upon a sustainable or maintainable export price, then it is very hard to grow or even stay solvent in this industry, as many mussel farmers, oyster farmers, and others will tell us, which is why this industry is seeing critical mass dynamics at work. That is more a statement on the industry, as opposed to this legislation, but it is important that we have a very good understanding as to what really are the problems we are trying to solve here. Obviously, in a simplistic way, too much red tape or too many complex and costly planning provisions are key issues that both major parties have deep concerns about. If this bill can simplify that, then we may see some fresh investment. But we will not see fresh investment unless we can see sunlight in the market place—that is, the export markets.
That raises questions as to how well organised aquaculture exporters are, what level of collaboration there is amongst them, and to what extent they can work together without falling foul of the law in relation to using practices that might raise the ire or cause the attention of regulators to be directed towards their activities.
In addition, for the past 5 or 6 years there has always been a funding problem—once the aquaculture management area model was brought into law. Areas would be created as aquaculture management areas, and within those areas punters who wanted to create a business there could make an application. Those aquaculture management areas were never going to be created without central government funding. To date, none of the big
parties has shown much zest for spending the millions of dollars necessary for aquaculture management areas to be created. In addition, when an aquaculture management area is created, the costs facing an investor are inordinately larger than the costs facing an opponent. The opponents are able to use the fruits of social democracy being married with resource management and bring their concerns to the table and actually require an exhaustive consideration of things that are both relevant and irrelevant. If one is an investor wanting to enlarge one’s enterprise, one faces those considerable hurdles, but that in itself can be traced back to the inability of regional government to fund it, and also, I am told, the inability of the ratepayers who stand behind regional government to put serious dough on the table to allow it to determine which areas under the planned environmental management strategies will be dedicated; and, if we were to go for a private plan change, then that in itself is a very expensive exercise.
This is relevant to Māori, and I suppose the jury is still out as to how the Māori entitlement will be settled, flowing from the deal done in the time of, I think it was, David Benson-Pope. How will it happen? Will it be cash? If there are no aquaculture management areas, how will they be allocated their space? The obligation upon the Crown is clearly reflected—I think it is section 53—and there is the ability to take different routes forward, so we look forward to hearing what both the industry and Māori players have to say about that.
It is useful to think about how aquaculture can move into other species. At the moment it comprises primarily mussels and oysters, but there is a large market for finfish. I come from Te Aupōuri iwi and we unwisely invested many millions of dollars in a land-based fish farm. The fish farm has since been discontinued. Fortunately, the asset base was such that the assets have been able to absorb the losses that come as a consequence of dabbling in capitalism, and of getting Scandinavian technology and learning that the ability to enforce the contract against Scandinavians is actually proportionate to the distance that they are away—that is, one has to go a long way to get them to observe their obligations under the contract. But that is another matter.
There is a great deal of scope for the farming of finfish. I only hope that when the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture comes back to us later in the Committee stage, he ensures that there is scope in this bill for investors to move from one type of aquaculture species to another, depending on where the market trends are taking us in terms of our export potential over the medium to long term. Although this is an important resource management issue, at the end of the day aquaculture is about exploiting natural space and natural resources, and transforming that into jobs, enabling firms to take a risk, and generating a flow of goods and services that hopefully will lead to the generation of foreign exchange earnings. At a deep level that is what we are really on about here. I have my doubts about whether the rhetoric spouted by the Hon Gerry Brownlee will ever come to pass—he has pinned a great deal of hope upon the aquaculture industry to be a new, inordinately large growth industry—but we will support this bill’s referral to a select committee. Kia ora.
COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura)
: It is a pleasure to stand and speak in the first reading of the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I must concede that earlier speakers have canvassed this subject very well. I shall take only a short call. I certainly look forward to this bill coming to the Primary Production Committee so that we can glean the value out of the select committee submissions. While I am on my feet I will talk about how enthusiastic this Government is about aquaculture, how focused it is on environmental sustainability, and how aware it is, when looking back, of the impracticability of some of the other attempts to sort out the aquaculture industry.
It is probably quite appropriate to see where all this started. In the 1970s a lot of the land-based farms in the Marlborough Sounds were finding the going very tough. With innovation, they saw an opportunity to farm green-lipped mussels in the sounds, and the rest is history. A wonderful book called
Lines in the water was published, which celebrates the achievement of aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds.
One point I will make is that we are not necessarily talking about great, endless hectares of water space being used to realise the $1 billion. It is quite clear that if the science is done and the water space is identified as being appropriate, then salmon farming could double the financial returns in the Marlborough Sounds by actually reducing the overall areas. But the point we learnt as a select committee from what happened in South Australia is that one must do the science. One must identify the areas, and then one has to look for a very simple but responsible framework in order for sustainable aquaculture to occur.
There are very exciting opportunities. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is doing very successful research into hāpuka, and their growth rates are very similar to those of salmon. With regard to this bill, I see that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture wants us to report it back on 27 April 2011, which should give adequate time for us to test much of the thinking that is in the bill. I know that a lot of candle hours have been spent in anguishing over the details and complexity of such things as how to apportion the 20 percent that is due—the contemporary arrangements relating to Māori. That issue has to be looked at, and I am sure that there are far better solutions in the second generation of stepping forward in aquaculture.
I will leave it there. I am fully in support of this legislation. As the MP for Kaikōura, which encompasses the Marlborough Sounds and probably some 1,700 kilometres of coastline, I realise not only the sensitivities relating to this legislation but also the enormous opportunities to harvest economic gain. I commend this bill to the House.
BRENDON BURNS (Labour—Christchurch Central)
: I am very pleased to support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I will set the framework for my comments around cautious support for this bill. I say “cautious”, because—
Sandra Goudie: Oh, come on.
BRENDON BURNS: —and I will express the caution first—we have been there at least twice before in my lifetime in terms of trying to grow this industry successfully. But I also say “support”, because aquaculture can, and should, become a billion-dollar export industry, if we get it right this time round. I am a great believer in aquaculture. I say that as somebody who, just at lunchtime today, when hosting a South African delegation with colleagues from the Primary Production Committee, ate some delicious salmon for my lunch—farmed salmon.
Paul Quinn: Did you pay for it?
BRENDON BURNS: I did indeed pay for my lunch, through the tax system that we all contribute to, I say to Mr Quinn. Last Saturday, in a rare moment off from work, at Pomeroy’s pub in my electorate, I enjoyed with my wife a lunch of a dozen freshly cooked Marlborough Sounds mussels. I am also a regular consumer, as some other MPs may be, of fish oil pills, which come from farmed salmon and which are good for keeping our joints supple and for feeding our capacity to retain information.
Craig Foss: You should share them with your colleagues.
BRENDON BURNS: I should share them with members opposite—indeed, I should.
I lived for 14 years in Marlborough and spent a lot of time in the Marlborough Sounds in holiday and weekend periods. The Marlborough Sounds is home, I think, to about three-quarters of the current existing aquaculture industry. I love to fish. One can never catch more fish than when one is somewhere near a mussel harvester. Yes, there
are parts of the sounds where the mussel industry and aquaculture in general may currently be being farmed to capacity, but that certainly does not apply in any more than a handful of bays across the vast expanse of the Marlborough Sounds.
The current aquaculture industry in New Zealand takes a fraction of 1 percent of our coastal water space. We have considerable capacity for growth—considerable capacity for growth—and I hope this bill will provide for that, because this is a clean, green industry. It is a sustainable industry. It is an industry that is needed by this nation to grow and an industry that is needed by this world to grow, because our fresh catch resources are declining—as members will know if they saw the weekend piece in the
Sunday Star-Times about the pressure on the tuna industry, for one example—and we need to be able to grow fish and shellfish to feed the world.
The Marlborough greenshell mussel industry is the dominant player in the current aquaculture industry. It was established by mum and dad pioneers, and they grew that industry out of nothing. They invented such things as the use of net stockings in a continuous loop to host mussel spat and attach it to the lines between the mussel floats, which were also designed and developed in Marlborough for that industry. It was a No. 8 fencing wire industry that has come together and created a fantastic, sustainable industry for us. But it needs to grow.
Three months ago I suggested to the Primary Production Committee that we might go and look at the industry in the Marlborough Sounds. I think the proposal was that we would go to look at a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research facility, but I believed that we should go and look at this industry in situ. It was a splendid day and we, as members, were shown—shown again, for some of us—how that industry is performing and how it could perform better. We were treated to some of the innovations that are emerging. Bruce Hearn from Marlborough, a pioneer of the industry, has now developed what I believe are the best oysters in the world and is farming them commercially in the Tory Channel. They are absolutely delicious. That is the sort of technical innovation that is happening in the industry, and we should see more of it.
But I still come back to the note of caution that I expressed at the beginning of my comments. That is because, living in Marlborough in the 1990s, I well remember Doug Kidd as the Minister of Fisheries and as the then local MP introducing a moratorium that started for 1 year, I think, and was extended to 2 years, if not beyond, as he attempted to control the gold rush that was going on for water space at that time. Legislation emerged, but it did not solve the issues of the industry and encourage growth that is sustainable and possible.
At the beginning of 2005—
Sandra Goudie: Tell us about the 5-year Labour moratorium.
BRENDON BURNS: This is across parties and Governments. I remind the member that it was her Government that introduced the Resource Management Act, not the Labour Government, which she was so critical of before. She should check her facts before she opens her trap.
In the year 2005, while working in a private capacity, I organised a visit to the Marlborough Sounds by Jim Anderton when he took on the fisheries portfolio, to expose him to the industry. I thought that if anybody was going to get that industry moving, it would be Jim Anderton. He had been the architect of the Labour Government’s policies in terms of regional development, and all of aquaculture is regional development. But I have to say that the growth did not happen. We are now looking at the Australian model. Last year the Primary Production Committee visited South Australia where a very good model is in place. It is a partnership between industry and government. Yes, extraordinary growth is going on in South Australia. They are now farming tuna, kingfish, and black mussels, and some of the Marlborough
industry pioneers are involved in the industry in Australia because they have had such frustration here with the restrictions in place, in terms of the growth that could occur if we get it right.
Ten years ago, in my past life as a journalist, when on a press fellowship I visited Ireland to look at regional development.
Paul Quinn: You’ve travelled the world.
BRENDON BURNS: Yes, at times I have benefited from that and it certainly helps, along with the fish pills, to open one’s mind—and some members would benefit from that, I say to Mr Quinn. I visited Ireland, and one of the enduring strengths of the Irish economy—and it has had its difficulties of late—has been the aquaculture growth in that nation. The models are there; they are absolutely there. But we do need to be cautious. The reason we have to be cautious is that Doug Kidd, who is well-respected by this House as a technocrat and operator, did not get it right in the 1990s; Jim Anderton did not get it right in 2005-08; and now we are putting our faith and trust in the new Minister, Mr Heatley, and I say good luck to him.
But I have to say that I think the Ministry of Fisheries may be as much a part of the problem to date as part of the solution, and I think the industry needs to make sure it takes every opportunity for input into this bill, as it is guided through the Primary Production Committee, to make sure that we get it right this time. It is hugely important to our nation that we get it right this time round. We have the opportunity. The Minister has indicated that the bill will be before the select committee through until April next year, so there is a good time frame for submission in order to get it right.
There are multiple reasons why we must get it right this time. The fact is that this could be, by 2025, a billion-dollar export industry, which would more than double the current growth of the aquaculture sector. We want to see those sustainable export dollars. We want to see the jobs that emerge from the aquaculture industry’s growth, and we want to see the food for a food-hungry world, which could be supported out of this low-impact, low-imprint sustainable industry.
But there is another reason that I want to commend to this House, in terms of support for this bill. It is because of what the greenshell mussel can do to us as people. I believe it can make us smarter. The reason I cite for that is that two eminent scientists, both of whom won the Nobel Prize, Sir Ernest Rutherford and Sir William Pickering, have one thing in common. They both grew up in Havelock, which is the home, the world capital, of the greenshell mussel—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Parekura is a Rutherford; seriously.
BRENDON BURNS: There we go! I will not quite put Parekura in the same league as Ernest Rutherford and William Pickering because there was a science bent, rather than Parekura’s political bent. But in all seriousness, this is a sustainable industry and it deserves the chance to grow. It can be done in a way where communities can have input. We do not want to see the industry expanded to every corner of every bay in every part of New Zealand. That will not happen. It is not envisaged I am sure.
SANDRA GOUDIE (National—Coromandel)
: I applaud the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Phil Heatley, and his officials for the magnificent bill that they have brought to the House, because at last somebody is doing something to clean up the dog’s breakfast in regard to aquaculture. Labour had 9 long years in Government and did not do it. This can and should be a billion-dollar industry. We need the export dollars, we need the tax revenue, and we need the jobs. Why? Because there is an ever-clamouring demand for more dollars for health, education, and policing, and we will get that only by having the tax revenue and having the export dollars. As Conor English said, it is an excellent opportunity. There is no free lunch. We need these jobs, and we need that sort of revenue. But we will always get those people who try to oppose that
type of thing. We will get people who march against things like the
Hobbit movies and the like. They march against the food industry, yet it is the food industry, the agriculture and aquaculture sectors in New Zealand, that will have the opportunity, with a bit of support and vision from the population of New Zealand and, of course, from the Opposition, to make a real difference to the economy of this country, which we so desperately need.
I applaud the Minister and his officials for the work they have done, because it has been difficult. It is quite a vexed issue. But the trip that the Primary Production Committee took to Australia showed quite clearly where the roadblocks were. If we look at Australia, we see that it is the state that sets the areas, and all a person who wants to get into the industry has to do is get a lease to fish and a licence to occupy. It is nice and simple. Here in New Zealand, what is the process? They have to go through a plan change, which means consultation; they have to lodge a plan change document, with, again, consultation and hearings, including the Environment Court; and they have to repeat that process for a resource consent and then repeat it for an undue adverse effects test with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. If that was not bogged down, I do not know what was. It is absolutely no surprise that nothing has been happening in the sector for many, many years. It is just wonderful to see that we have a bill here that will redress some of the concerns that have been raised and make some substantial progress in moving this industry forward. I certainly applaud it.
A party vote
was called for on the question,
That the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) be now read a first time.
||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 41; ACT New Zealand 5; Māori Party 5; Progressive 1; United Future 1.
||Green Party 9.
|Bill read a first time.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture)
: I move,
That the Primary Production Committee consider the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) and that the committee report finally to the House on or before 27 April 2011.