Carter backs fish farms

The Government would support the aquaculture industry in its efforts to achieve $1 billion in annual sales by 2025, Primary Industries Minister David Carter said in Nelson yesterday.

The minister also said he wanted "a positive outcome" from the New Zealand King Salmon expansion application in the Marlborough Sounds.

Addressing the New Zealand Aquaculture Conference at the Rutherford Hotel, Mr Carter said aquaculture was vital to export growth and the Government was "committed to partnering with your industry to ensure we meet all our targets".

The conference's theme, "looking forward to sustainable growth" was very much his and the Government's focus.

NZ King Salmon has been involved in a long Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry hearing into its application for regulation changes to allow it to add nine new salmon farms to its existing five in the Sounds.

The application, which the company says has cost it $9 million, has met determined opposition from environmental and recreational groups, many Sounds residents, and the Marlborough District Council.

Mr Carter said aquaculture regulations needed to be efficient, effective and support responsible stewardship of natural resources while allowing marine farmers to conduct their business economically.

"One of our top priorities is effective coastal planning."

In spite of the Government's 2011 aquaculture reforms, many coastal plans were restrictive.

"I have asked the Ministry for Primary Industries to look at ways central Government can work proactively with local government to unlock growth opportunities, and ensure protection of your existing aquaculture space."

He and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson were planning a review of the rules around land-based aquaculture, "an area with unrealised potential".

"When we came into office, we signalled that we would create a framework that fosters environmentally sustainable aquaculture development while balancing that development with other coastal uses," Mr Carter said.

Fairfax NZ

The Marlborough Express