The Allocation of Marine Space for Aquaculture (2011)

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Mussel Farm, New Zealand<ref name="Aquaculture New Zealand" />

Contents

Introduction


Marine aquaculture is the farming of flora and fauna at sea. <ref name=" Rennie, H."> Rennie, H. (2010) ‘Marine (Aquaculture) Space Allocation: Assessing Transitional Challenges to Local Economies in New Zealand’, Local Economy 25 (3), 190-207.</ref> The allocation of marine space for aquaculture in New Zealand is a contentious issue because marine farms often overlap with dusky dolphin’s habitat, can effect shellfish stocks, can effect shellfish health (through waste and nutrient loading), can lead to the introduction of exotic species, can result in social and amenity disturbance, can reduce biodiversity and more. <ref> Magdy, A., El Deen. S. and El Guindy, S. (1995) Environmental Impact of Aquaculture [online] http://www.wg-pqw.icidonline.org/env_imp_magdy.pdf [accessed: 9 September 2011].</ref> <ref> Markowitz, T. (2004) ‘Dusky dolphin foraging habitat: overlap with aquaculture in New Zealand’, Aquatic Conservation 14 (2), 133- 149.</ref> <ref> Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. (2001) Coasts and Marine Publications [online] http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/south-east/pubs/impacts-aquaculture.pdf [accessed 12 September 2011]. </ref> It is also contentious because it can result in conflicts between different users of marine space. <ref name=" Rennie, H." /> It is important to note that the allocation of space for aquaculture is also contentious in international contexts and the issues mentioned above are not limited to the New Zealand context. <ref> Jackson, T. and Dixon, J. (2006) ‘Applying strategic environmental assessment to land-use and resource-management plans in Scotland and New Zealand: a comparison’, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 24 (2), 89- 101.</ref> How marine space is allocated is reflective of the state of a country’s political environment. <ref> Buhrs, D. (1991) ‘Strategies for Environmental Policy Co-ordination: The New Zealand Experience’, Political Science 34 (2), 1- 30.</ref> In New Zealand, the people that currently dominate the political environment are primarily concerned with economic growth. <ref> NZ National Party. (2011) About National: Policies [online] http://www.national.org.nz/Policy.aspx [12 September 2011].</ref> This economic thrust has implications for the way in which space is allocated. The current method for managing the allocation of marine space is currently in a state of flux, primarily because of dominant economic and political group’s aim to capitalise on unused marine space and expand the aquaculture industry significantly by 2025.<ref name="Aquaculture"> Aquaculture. (2011) Aquaculture Strategy [online] http://www.aquaculture.govt.nz/strategy.php [accessed: 12 September 2011].</ref> Currently, New Zealand hosts approximately 1200 marine farms throughout it's coastal waters. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment. "> Ministry for the Environment. (2005). Aquaculture Reform: An Overview [online] http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/oceans/aquaculture-risk-management/html/page9.html [accessed: 20 September 2011]. </ref> The total space allocated to aquaculture in the coastal marine area is more than 13,000 hectares, with the industry wanting to allocate much more for aquaculture. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment. " />.

“The government has identified aquaculture as New Zealand’s fastest growing primary industry that can bring New Zealand significant economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner.” <ref name="Aquaculture"/> All efforts are being made by the government and industry to make accessing marine space for aquaculture simple so that the current $350 million the aquaculture industry contributes to the New Zealand economy can become $1 billion in less than 15 years.<ref name="Aquaculture"/> It is questionable whether the amount of growth envisioned by the government and aquaculture industry can occur without compromising the structure of the seabed and natural character, amenity values and water quality of the coastal environment. <ref> Day, M., Backhurst, M., Ericksen, N., Crawford, J., Chapman, S., Berke, P., Laurian, L., Dixon, J., Jefferies, R., Warren, T., Barfoot, C., Mason, G., Bennett, M. and Gibson, C. (2003) District plan implementation under the RMA: Confessions of a resource consent, Planning Under a Cooperative Mandate Papers, Report No. 2 </ref> This article will firstly give a brief overview of the history of the marine farming in New Zealand. Secondly, it will reflect on the legislation which shapes how marine space is allocated. It will also reflect on how the legislation has changed and is changing. Thirdly, the stakeholders will be identifed. Fourthy, it will look at the methods for managing the allocation of marine space since the RMA 1991 took effect. Fifthly, it shall evaluate the current method of management and finally, will provide a recommendation.


History of Aquaculture in New Zealand

The New Zealand aquaculture industry began in the mid-1960’s. <ref> Rennie, H., White, R. and Brabyn, L. (2009) ‘Developing a conceptual model of marine farming in New Zealand’, Marine Policy 33 (1), 106- 117.</ref> <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment."> The Ministry for the Environment (2011) Appendix 1: The Aquaculture Industry in New Zealand [online]http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/oceans/aquaculture-risk-management/html/page9.html [accessed 19 September 2011].</ref> Oysters and then mussels were marine farmed by small owner-operated farms throughout New Zealand. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment." /> These operations then transformed into domestic operations. During the 1970’s and 1980's, the growth of large scale aquaculture farms continued to increase and there was a decline in the number of small owner-operated farms. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment." />

As a result of the socio-economic and political reforms which took place in the early 1980's, the aquaculture industry increased and its export markets developed and larger scale aquaculture/seafood-related export companies began dominating the aquaculture industry.<ref> Grundy, K. and Gleeson, B. (1996) ‘Sustainable Management and the Market’, Land Use Policy 13 (3), 197- 211</ref> <ref name=" Horton, S. and Memon, A."> Horton, S. and Memon, A.(1997) ‘SEA: The uneven development of the environment?’, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 17 (3), 163-175.</ref> Over the years the need for the protection of aquaculture in New Zealand has increased. New Zealand recognised the urgent need to conserve New Zealand’s natural resources and their associated amenity values, in order to sustain a high quality level of seafood. <ref name=" Aquaculture New Zealand. "> Aquaculture New Zealand. (2011) Heritage [online http://aquaculture.org.nz/industry/heritage/ [accessed 19 September 2011]. </ref> It is important that this knowledge and these sustainability practices are passed down through future generations in order for the industry to continue growing and producing. <ref name=" Aquaculture New Zealand. " /> The introduction of the RMA in 1991 emphasised practices involving sustainable methods of production. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment. " /> During the 1980’s and 1990’s the market began to diversify and the demand for mussels and oysters grew and the development of salmon farms began. <ref name=" Ministry for the Environment. " /> With declining global fisheries and an increasing global population, this demand is expected to grow. <ref> Horoirangi Centre for Seafood & Aquaculture Innovation. (2011) The New Zealand Aquaculture Story [online] http://www.horoirangi.co.nz/aquaculture [accessed: 20 September 2011].</ref>

Legislation

The 2004 Reforms and Current Legisation

Prior to the 2004 reforms, marine farmers were required to gain consent under the Resource Management Act 1991 to occupy marine space and to build the structures (both onshore and off-shore) required to support marine operations.<ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Marine farmers were then also required under the Fisheries Act 1996 to ensure no undue adverse effects on commercial, recreational or customary fishing. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> For more information on the dual-consenting process, see The Combined Method of Management section. The dual consenting process resulted inunnecessary costs and delays for marine farmers and authorities with a vested interest in aquaculture development. In Nov 2001, the government put an immediate moratorium on new aquaculture applications. <ref name=" Aquaculture NZ."> Aquaculture NZ. (2011) History [online] http://www.aquaculture.govt.nz/history.php [accessed: 20 September 2011]. </ref> This was done so that aquaculture reform would be consistent with foreshore and seabed legislation. <ref name=" Aquaculture NZ. " /> This moratorium, originally intended to be in place for two years, remained in place until the 2004 aquaculture reforms.

The 2004 Aquaculture Reforms attempted to streamline the dual consenting process by implementing Aquaculture Management Areas or AMAs <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />. These AMAs were planned and defined areas set aside for aquaculture in Regional Coastal Environmental Plans. In theory, any adverse effects on fisheries would be assessed before AMAs were defined in coastal plans, therefore removing the fishing or fisheries segment from the consenting process <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />. Marine farmers then only had to gain consent from the Resource Management Act to start farms within AMAs. The 2004 reforms and AMAs are still currently in use, until government legislative changes are implemented on the 1st of October 2011.

The aquaculture reforms of 2004, especially the creation of the AMAs, have proved to be unsuccessful in streamlining the consent process. Instead of streamlining the consent process and reducing complications, the creation of AMAs actually created significant impediments for both the aquaculture industry and councils.<ref name=" Bay of Plenty Regional Council. " /> The creation of AMAs in practice was found to be an expensive, complex and lengthy process. <ref name=" Aquaculture NZ."> Aquaculture NZ. (2011) Legislative Framework [online] http://www.aquaculture.govt.nz/legislative_framework.php. [accessed: 20 September 2011]. </ref> The legislative changes made in 2004 were intended to help regional councils manage the increase in demand for space for aquaculture while allowing the industry to grow and develop <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />. However, it has been found that the 2004 reforms have made it harder for councils to plan and invest in aquaculture. <ref name=" Ministry of Fisheries. " /> As a result of these complications, there have been no new allocations of space to marine farmers because no new AMAs have been created under the legislation since it came into force in January, 2005. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />

Current reforms, changes and the new Aquaculture regime

State of Flux

Currently, the laws and regulations surrounding the allocation of marine space for aquaculture are in a state of flux. After the 2004 aquaculture reforms were found to be largely ineffective in streamlining the consent process and allowing for growth in the aquaculture industry, the government in 2010 decided to reassess the legislation governing aquaculture. This reassessment was part of the government’s ‘economic growth agenda’, which aimed to release the economic potential of the industry, increase export earnings and create new jobs <ref name=" Ministries of Fisheries & Aquaculture, Agriculture & Forestry."> Ministries of Fisheries & Aquaculture, Agriculture & Forestry. (2011) Statement of Intent 2011-14

[online] http://www.maf.govt.nz/news-resources/publications?title=Statement%20of%20Intent [accessed: 28 September 2011].</ref> For the past year, the government has been preparing and fine tuning amendments to the legislation surrounding aquaculture consent and management. This period, from announcing reforms in 2010 until implementation in October 2011, has left the industry in a state of flux. <ref name=" 

Ministries of Fisheries & Aquaculture, Agriculture & Forestry. " />

Proposed changes and amendments

The government has developed a wide package of aquaculture reforms that includes some non-legislative changes. The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) is part of this package and outlines amendments to the following Acts:

  • Resource Management Act 1991
  • Fisheries Act 1996
  • Maori Commerical Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004
  • Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004

(Source: <ref name=" Ministries of Fisheries & Aquaculture, Agriculture & Forestry. " />).

The amendments and reforms aim to reduce the costs, delays and uncertainties that plague the current consent process and council planning, as well as, promoting investment into the aquaculture industry and enabling integrated decision making <ref name=" Ministry of Fisheries. "> Ministry of Fisheries. (2010) Annual Report 2009 – 2010 [online] http://www.fish.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/DDDAAE32-45BF-4931-AC5B-71B1245D9FC3/0/Annual_Report_2010_Full.pdf [accessed: 28 September 2011].</ref> <ref name=" Bay of Plenty Regional Council."> Bay of Plenty Regional Council.(2011) Environment, Coast, Aquaculture: Aquaculture Reforms [online] http://www.boprc.govt.nz/environment/coast/aquaculture/aquaculture-reforms/ [accessed: 25 September 2011].</ref> Under the new regime, the Minister of Fisheries has separate responsibility for Aquaculture and an Aquaculture Unit within the Ministry of Fisheries has been set up as the main government advisors on matters involving aquaculture. <ref name=" Ministry of Fisheries. " />

The main legislative changes proposed by the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3):

  • Removing the requirement that aquaculture activities can only take place within AMAs
  • Streamlines the Undue Adverse Effects test on fisheries
  • Introduces a minimum 20 year consent term for aquaculture
  • Limits the information requirements for re-consenting an existing marine farm
  • Enables councils to better manage situations of high demand for water space

(Source: <ref name=" Bay of Plenty Regional Council. " />).

To read about some of the specific key proposed changes, see: Specific proposed changes

Stakeholders

A stakeholder can be defined as “Individuals, groups or organizations who are, in one way or another, interested, involved or affected (positively or negatively) by a particular project or action toward resource us”. <ref> Pomeroy, R. and Rivera-Guieb, R. (2006) Fisheries Co-Management: A Practical Handbook, Ottawa, Canada: International Development Research Centre. </ref> Due to the public nature of the marine environment and its many uses, there are numerous potential stakeholders who have an interest or stake in the outcome of marine spatial planning.<ref name=" Pomeroy, R. and Douvere, F." /> These include commercial, recreational and customary fishing, aquaculture and more. <ref name=" Pomeroy, R. and Douvere, F." /> In New Zealand, government organisations play a key role in the management of the allocation of marine space. However, individuals and non-governmental organisations such as industry are also involved in marine spatial planning. Government at central, regional and local levels are interested in the implications of New Zealand's growing aquaculture industry for the economy, environment and society. It is government authorities’ role to ensure that the allocating of marine space is managed sustainably under the RMA 1991. It is also their responsibility to build confidence to invest, improve public support, promote Maori success, capitalise on research and innovation and increasing market revenue. <ref> Aquaculture NZ. (2011) Governments Role: Aquaculture Strategy [online] http://www.aquaculture.govt.nz/strategy.php [accessed: 22 September 2011]. </ref>

Due to the interdependency that exists between the ecosystem resources (such as marine space) and its users, successful management depends on the identification and understanding of different stakeholders, their practices, expectations and interests to a significant extent. <ref name=" Pomeroy, R. and Douvere, F. "> Pomeroy, R. and Douvere, F. (2008) ‘The engagement of stakeholders in the marine spatial planning process’, Marine Policy 32 (5), 816-822.</ref> <ref name=" Frankic, A. and Hershner, C. "> Frankic, A. and Hershner, C. (2003) ‘Sustainable aquaculture: developing the promise of aquaculture’, Aquaculture International 11 (6), 517-530. </ref> The contention over whether particular stakeholders have an equal stake in marine space-related issues and whether some stakeholder’s interests are adequately addressed in New Zealand and other contexts affects the success of marine spatial planning. <ref name=" Howlett, M. and Rayner, J. "> Howlett, M. and Rayner, J. (2003) ‘Studying Canadian Aquaculture Policy: Issues, Gaps, and Directions’, accepted for Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, (2003), 30 May. </ref> This study does not go into depth about of the implications of stakeholder relationships on marine spatial planning, but rather the methods for managing the allocation of marine space for aquaculture. However, it does touch on the importance of stakeholders in the management of the allocation of marine space. Definitions of, and distinctions among stakeholder and ‘community’ can be found throughout the body of literature on public participation. <ref name=" Pomeroy, R. and Douvere, F." />

To view a list of some the the key stakeholders in marine spatial plannning in New Zealand see:

Methods for Managing the Allocation of Marine Space

The Combined Method of Management

Under the combined method of management otherwise known as the “dual-consent system”, the allocation of marine space for aquaculture was managed through the statutory Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA 1991) and the Fisheries Act 1996. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M."> Banta, W. and Gibbs, M.(2009) ‘Factors Controlling the Development of the Aquaculture Industry in New Zealand: Legislative Reform and Social Carrying Capacity’, Coastal Management 37 (2), 170- 196.</ref> Individuals wanting to carry out marine farming activities were required to apply for resource consent in the form of a coastal permit from the regional or district council under the RMA 1991 and a fisheries permit from the Ministry of Fisheries, under the Fisheries Act 1996.<ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> An applicant was required to submit details of the site, location, proposed activities and an assessment of any actual or potential effects that the activities may have on the environment (Environmental Impact Assessment or Assessment of Environmental Effects). <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The regional council would then process the resource consent application according to the classification of the proposed activities as defined in their regional coastal plan. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> If the effects were to be more than minor, the council would then notify the public about the resource consent application. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The notification process encouraged public submission even though the entire resource consent application process was required to be transparent and provide numerous opportunities for public consultation. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Resource consent applications that were rejected could be appealed through the Environment Court by the applicant or any person who made a submission during the time period allocated for submissions. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Under the "dual-consent system", the resource consent application process was often expensive and time consuming for applicants. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Figure 2 shows the resource consent application process.

Figure 2. Resource Consent Application Process used to Manage the Allocation of Space. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />
Figure 2. continued. Resource Consent Application Process used to Manage the Allocation of Space. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />

Regional councils were required to determine the impacts the proposed activities would have to water quality, habitat, natural character, amenity values, indigenous fauna and the physical structure of the seabed before granting a permit to an applicant. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The regional council, applicant and public had to be informed on how adverse effects would be avoided, remedied or mitigated, if there were any. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Marine farming activities were also to be in accordance with the most recent New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and any existing coastal plan that had been developed by a regional council and approved by the Minister for Conservation. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Only once a resource consent had been applied for and granted under the RMA 1991 and the Ministry of Fisheries was satisfied that the proposed activities would not have “undue adverse effects” on fishing activities or the sustainability of fisheries, could an applicant apply for a permit from the Ministry of Fisheries. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The Ministry of Fisheries permit application process sought to protect the rights of the existing users of the coastal area, particularly commercial, recreational and customary fishers with quota rights to fisheries under the Quota Management System. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />

Reasons for Changing the Combined Method of Management

  • The method relied on the assumption that consent authorities either had: the required expertise or access to appropriate expertise or had adequate time to make well-informed decisions.
  • Some of the environmental impacts of marine farming activities were not well understood (such as the effects on nutrient availability and populations of regional species).
  • Consent authorities staff were required to process a diverse range of terrestrial and marine consent applications and often did not have the time to remain up-to-date on the details of all relevant ecological processes that may be affected.
  • Regulators often had inadequate site-specific knowledge of the impacts of anthropogenic activities due to limited funding for scientific research.
  • There was little incentive for marine farmers to perform comprehensive integrated analyses of individual monitoring data sets they collect.
  • Local councils generally did not possess the expertise or funds to perform comprehensive integrated analyses of individual monitoring data sets collected by marine farmers.
  • When comprehensive research was done by individual marine farmers, it was often for commercial purposes. Local authorities and other stakeholders often did not have access to the results from the research.
  • Space occupied by mussel farms were overlapping with space required for commercial fishing and creating difficulties for the two authorities responsible for regulating marine activities. Complications occurred when marine farmers would apply for more space, as a result of expansion of the aquaculture industry and developments in technology. This was a particular issue in the Tasman and Golden Bays area.
  • The “dual-consent system” involved extending application processing times, high processing costs, the overlap of information and a significant degree of uncertainty of success for the applicant.
  • Marine farmers had difficulty with the continuation of their consent after its expiration due to the nature of the evaluation for the consent application.
  • The method rendered the regional council ill-equipped to deal with the expanding aquaculture industry and the sub-sequential potential undesirable environmental outcomes of the demand for marine space.

(Source: <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> ).

The Method of Management Post-Aquaculture Reform Act 2004

As a result of amendments to existing legislation and the introduction of new legislation, the method for managing the allocation of marine space changed. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The reform created a single process for aquaculture planning and consents under the RMA 1991. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Under the current system, an applicant is still required to apply for resource consent from a regional council, however, no longer has to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Fisheries too. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> To promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources, now aquaculture can only occur within Aquaculture Management Areas (AMA’s) as defined in regional coastal plans. <ref name="Aquaculture NZ. "> Aquaculture NZ. (2011) A quick guide to establishing and operating a marine farm in New Zealand [online] http://aquaculture.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Guide-to-establishing-a-marine-farm-in-nz.pdf [accessed: 15 September 2011]. </ref> <ref name="Maritime New Zealand."> Maritime New Zealand. (2005) Guidelines for Aquaculture Management Areas and Marine Farms [online] http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/Publications-and-forms/Commercial-operations/Ports-and-harbours/Guideline-for-Aquaculture-Management-areas-and-Marine-Farms.pdf [accessed 12 September 2011]. </ref> The RMA provides for council and privately initiated AMAs. <ref name="Aquaculture NZ. "/> Private plan changes can occur if they are a result of a regional council inviting the private plan change or not. However, if the a regional council invites a private party to initiate plan changes and the party is successful with its proposal, the party is given priority when applying for resource consent to farm in the created AMA. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> Regardless of the way in which an AMA is created, 20 percent of all space allocated must be allocated to Iwi. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The RMA also now allows for councils to define Excluded Areas - areas where space may not be allocated for aquaculture. <ref name=" Environment Canterbury."> Environment Canterbury. (2009) The Invited Private Plan Change Process for the Creation of Aquaculture Management Areas: An evaluation to inform Implementation [online] http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/Reports/InvitedPrivatePlanChangeProcessinAquacultureManagementAreas.pdf [accessed 12 September 2011]. </ref> Before a resource consent can be processed and notification can occur, AMA’s are to be tested by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries to identify whether there are any Undue Adverse Effects (UAE) on commercial, recreational or customary fishing. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> This test is in place to protect the existing rights of fishers. If there are no UAE, the outcome of the test is known as “determination” and if there are, it is known as “reservation” - in this case, the size of the AMA has to be modified. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> The Minister of Conservation is then in charge of approving the final aquaculture provisions of a regional coastal plan. All marine farmers are also required to be registered under the Fisheries Act 1996. <ref name="Aquaculture NZ. "/>

After the Aquaculture Reform 2004, all leases and licenses were given a 20 year term from enactment of the legislation and may continue if the site is within an AMA. Permits “granted under the Marine Farming Act are in effect until 2025, at which time they will need to be reapplied for” and “marine farms that have been granted coastal permits and marine farming permits have specific expiration dates”. <ref name="Aquaculture NZ. "/> Furthermore, any applications received but not notified before 28 November 2001 were frozen by the moratorium and managed under the amended legislation. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." /> In addition, under the new regime, regional or unitary authorities can apply to the Minister of Conservation to have zones in their coastal plans declared AMA’s. <ref name="Banta, W. and Gibbs, M." />

The Ministry of Fisheries is currently consulting with industry on the methodology to be established for use in UAE tests. <ref name="Aquaculture New Zealand" > Aquaculture New Zealand. (2011) Consultation on UAE Methodology [online] http://aquaculture.org.nz/2011/08/29/consultation-on-uae-methodology/ [accessed: 13 September 2011]</ref> Individuals were encouraged to enter submissions by 12 September 2011.<ref name="Aquaculture New Zealand" /> For more information, visit the Ministry of Fisheries website: http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/Consultation+UAE/default.htm

Changes to the Current Method

The method for managing the allocation of marine space for aquaculture is currently in a state of flux and how space is allocated will change after 1 October 2011. It is highly likely that applicants will still have to undergo the resource consent application process under the RMA 1991. However, it is expected that they will face less costs and uncertainty when applying for space.

After 1 October 2011:

  • There will be an Aquaculture Unit in the Ministry of Fisheries.
  • A Minister responsible for Aquaculture.
  • Give the Minister of Conservation new powers to approve alternative allocation tools in the coastal marine area.
  • The Department of Conservation will be responsible for advising the Minister of Conservation on whether to exercise the power to gazette an alternative allocation method.
  • Give regional councils and unitary authorities three new powers; they can request from the Minister of Conservation the use of an alternative allocation tool, request from the Minister responsible for Aquaculture a suspension on the receipt of new applications to occupy space for aquaculture activities and request from the Minister responsible for Aquaculture that aquaculture applications be processed and heard together.

(Source: <ref name="Aquaculture"/> ).

To read more about the changes to the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders that will affect the method for managing the Allocation of marine space, see: http://www.aquaculture.govt.nz/governments_role.php

Evaluation of method(s)

Ambiguity in the RMA

The textual ambiguity in the RMA, which can be traced back to the political agenda that stimulated the development of the RMA, is problematic because it can lead to uneven development of the environment and inadequate protection of marine space. <ref name=" Horton, S. and Memon, A." /> Section 6 (c) of the RMA requires all agencies with statutory functions (i.e. local authorities) to recognise and provide for the protection of ‘areas of significant vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna’. <ref name="Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. "> Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T.(2008) ‘Halting Indigenous Biodiversity Decline: Ambiguity, Equity, and Outcomes in RMA Assessment of Significance’, New Zealand Journal of Ecology 32 (2), 1- 13.</ref> There are difficulties in defining the meaning of “significant” and as a result developers can be granted consent to modify areas that have significant values if the effects of the modification will be adequately mitigated against .<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> It also allows for developers to exploit areas recognised to not have significant values. The difficulties in defining “significant” make managing the allocation of space for aquaculture problematic .<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> The ambiguous nature of the term “significant” can serve aquaculture developers interests and result in the loss of indigenous fauna and consequently, biodiversity.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> Although ambiguity results in general acceptance, it also can result in to undesirable outcomes. <ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " />

Edelman (1960)forwards that; “Ambiguity yields statutes and regulations obscure enough to please all parties, vague enough to be unenforcable, and so ill-defined that failures to implement the policy will be difficult to detect and impossible to litigate. Ambiguous policies sound lofty but may accomplish little”. <ref name="Edelman, M. "> Edelman (1960)’ Symbols and Political Quiescence’, The American Political Science Review 54 (3), 695–704.</ref>

We argue that for marine space, and by extension the marine environment, to receive adequate protection, the ambiguous terms such as “significant” should be addressed and a list of definitions should be provided in the RMA to ensure that the allocation of marine space is not at the mercy of debate due to varying interpretations of terms. <ref name=" Horton, S. and Memon, A." /> However, it is important to acknowledge that it is considerably difficult to achieve consensus and define terms such as these when there are various parties with differing interests and worldviews involved. <ref> Holdgate, M. (1990) ‘Changes in Perception’, in Angell, D., Comer, J. and Wilkinson, M. (eds) Sustaining Earth: Response to the Environmental Threat, London: Macmillan pp. 79–96. </ref> <ref> Armstrong, S. and Botzler, R. (1993) Environmental Ethics: Divergence and Convergence. New York: McGraw-Hill.</ref> <ref> Handel, W. (1982) Ethnomethodology: How People Make Sense. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.</ref>

The Interests of Local Authorities

Local authorities (regional and district councils and unitary authorities) are elected representatives that decide whether an applicant is granted a permit to occupy space for aquaculture purposes. <ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> Many people expect them to act in the interest of the public and reject development proposals which undermine biodiversity.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> However, in reality, the interests of local authorities often coincide with those of developers.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> Local authorities are often in favour of development because it is easier to measure, unlike biodiversity, and often contributes to a regions economic growth.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> Consents may also function as “political steam valves” that dissipate pressures on agencies from vested interests. <ref > Salzman, J. and Ruhl, J. (2000) ‘Currencies and the commodification of environmental law’, Stanford Law Review 53, 607–694.</ref> Local authorities are also often interested in simplifying assessment and minimising the scope of what is “significant” so that they can reduce their assessment, conservation, protection and monitoring duties.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> These interests can lead to inadequate protection of New Zealand’s marine space.<ref name=" Walker, S., Brower, A., Clarkson, B., Lee, W., Myers, S., Shaw, W. and Stephens, T. " /> It is concerning that the agencies responsible for protecting marine space and all other resources are often in favour of allowing them to be exploited. We argue that elected representatives should not represent a narrow spectrum of interests so that of marine space is allocated appropriately.

Public Consultation

The RMA and resource consent application process appears to foster the rights of public participation and equitable access for all, as autonomous individuals however, in practice, actually restricts New Zealander’s ability to act collectively vis-á-vis the government. <ref name="Gunder, M. and Mouat, C. "> Gunder, M. and Mouat, C. (2002) ‘Symbolic Violence and Victimization in Planning Processes: A Reconnoitre of the New Zealand Resource Management’, Planning Theory 1 (2), 124- 145.</ref> By maximising New Zealander’s opportunity for individual resistance, rather than collective, reveals that the RMA and associated processes, by nature, favour the interests of institutional and corporate stakeholders. <ref name=" Gunder, M. and Mouat, C." /> By discouraging collective action against proposals, it is easier for applications to be processed. <ref name=" Gunder, M. and Mouat, C." /> Grundy (1997) and Lovell (2000) reveal that institutional and corporate stakeholders, rather than average community residents, are best positioned to partake effectively in the public participatory process to establish accepted community standards and that these stakeholders “tend to act in their own strategic interests”. <ref> Grundy, K.J. (1997) ‘Empty Promises? Public Participation under the RMA’, Resource Management News VI(2), 3–7. </ref> <ref> Lovell, A. (2000) ‘Power, Politics and Planning: The Eden Park Case Study’, Unpublished MPlan Research Project, University of Auckland, New Zealand. </ref> This discourages local people from participating in environmental decision-making. Public participation is also discouraged in a number of other ways.<ref name="Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. "> Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. (1996) Public Participation under the Resource Management Act 1991: The Management of Conflict. Wellington: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. </ref> It is clear that the method for managing the allocation of space for aquaculture, and other natural resources, victimises the majority of New Zealanders through only maximising people's opportunity for individual resistance and it is likely that the legislative changes set to take effect on 1 October 2011, which will alter the method for managing the allocation of space, will allows for marine farm developers to access space for aquaculture purposes with ease.<ref name=" Gunder, M. and Mouat, C." />

To read more on the public consultation process and the contention around it, see: https://geog397.wiki.otago.ac.nz/Community_Consultation_%282011%29

The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS)

"The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) established a coastal management regime based on a partnership between the Crown and local government." <ref name="Young, D. "> Young, D. (2003) “Monitoring the Effectiveness of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement: Views of Local Government”. Unpublished report prepared for the Reviewer/s of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement. Department of Conservation, Head Office, Wellington, 54: 9.</ref> "The Act requires that at all times there shall be a New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) to guide local authorities in their day-to-day management of the coastal environment, including the preparation of policy statements and regional coastal plans, which are mandatory under the Act." <ref name="Young, D. "/> The first NZCPS was gazetted in May 1994 and the current NZCPS guiding local authorities day-to-day management of the coastal environment was gazetted in 2010. <ref name="Young, D. "/>

In 2003, the NZCPS 1994 was independently reviewed and there were a number of issues raised about the NZCPS’s effectiveness in dealing with current, emerging and other issues. <ref name="Young, D. "/> The expansion of aquaculture was the most frequently stated emerging issue and councils identified that “the NZCPS did not provide them with sufficient guidance for addressing the adverse effects of the aquaculture boom”. <ref name="Young, D. "/> The central concern for councils was the NZCPS’s inability to provide guidance on the allocation of space. However, there were a number of other issues councils had in relation to the allocation of space (Table 1). One other key issue identified was that the NZCPS's policy on public access provided little guidance on how to manage the increasing incidents of conflicting uses, which were arising from the demand for marine space, particularly for aquaculture. <ref name="Young, D. "/>


Table 1. Other issues, in relation to the allocation of marine space, identified by regional councils. <ref name="Young, D. "/>

Nzcps resize.jpg


From the responses produced by councils about the allocation of space for aquaculture, it is apparent that there was a need for better intergovernmental collaboration in order to ensure that the method for managing the allocation was consistent across different regions in the country and with policy and the expectations of central government. <ref name="Young, D. "/> It is also evident that there was a need for the NZCPS to provide sufficient guidance for councils on how to manage the allocation of space and conflicting uses, which had particularly arisen as a result of the demand for space for aquaculture, in order for the potential adverse outcomes of these issues to be mitigated. <ref name="Young, D. "/> It is important to note that there were a vast number of other issues identified by councils about the NZCPS such as issues with defining ‘natural character’ and the ‘coastal environment’. <ref name="Young, D. "/> <ref name="Rosier, J. "> Rosier, J. (2004) “Independent review of The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement”, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University: Palmerston North, pp. 2- 135. </ref> Issues such as these affect the way in which marine space is allocated, therefore it is important for them to be acknowledge in order to address the allocation of space issue.

Were the issues with the NZCPS 1994 addressed in the NZCSP that was gazetted in 2010?

It is debatable whether the issues councils had with the NZCPS 1994 have been adequately addressed. The NZCPS gazetted in 2010 does have a policy on aquaculture, which is likely to provide guidance for councils on how to manage the allocation of space for aquaculture and help to ensure that the decisions made by councils are appropriate. However, based on the language used, we argue that it will not provide for ecologically sustainable development of marine space because it does not explicitly prioritise ecological considerations and attempts to balance competing social, economic, ecological and cultural considerations. <ref name=" Armstrong, B. "> Armstrong, B. (2001) The Resource Management Act 1991: Has it delivered on its objectives? Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand, Resource Management Journal 9 (3), 8-11.</ref> <ref name="Department of Conservation. "> Department of Conservation. (2010) New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 [online] http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/conservation/marine-and-coastal/coastal-management/nz-coastal-policy-statement-2010.pdf [accessed: 21 September 2011].</ref> We argue that for ecologically sustainable development of natural and physical resources in the coastal environment to occur, the RMA regime and NZCPS should give priority to ecological considerations. <ref name=" Armstrong, B. "/> By doing this, the RMA and subsequent NZCPS would be explicitly acknowledging that both society and the economy are embedded within the bio-physical environment and that the well-being of both is ultimately dependent on the sound management of natural and physical resources. <ref name=" Armstrong, B. "/>

To view the aquaculture chapter of NZCPS 2010, see: http://doc.org.nz/publications/conservation/marine-and-coastal/new-zealand-coastal-policy-statement/new-zealand-coastal-policy-statement-2010/

Were the reasons for changing the Combined Method of Management addressed when the method changed?

There were a number of issues with the combined method of management which were supposed to be addressed when the aquaculture legislation and method changed in 2004. There has been some research which looks at some of the issues. For example, there are studies which show that some of the environmental effects of mussel farming activities are still not well understood. <ref> Wong, K. and O'Shea, S. (2010) 'Sediment macrobenthos off eastern Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand', New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 44 (3) 149–165. </ref> <ref> Wong, K. and O'Shea, S. (2011) 'The effects of a mussel farm on benthic macrofaunal communities in Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand', New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45 (2) 187-212 </ref> However, there is a general lack of research done on a number of the issues. Regardless of the fact that the method will change after 1 October 2011, we argue that it would be useful for more research to be done on whether the issues with the combined method were addressed. This research would help improve the method for managing the allocating marine space.

Are the economic predictions made by Government and the aquaculture industry accurate?

It is important to question whether the predictions related to the economic output of aquaculture expansion are accurate and whether the potential revenue outweighs the environmental costs that could result as a consequence of the growth desired. It has been suggested that economic predictions such as the one made by the Government and aquaculture industry can be treated as gospel, when in reality they should be questioned because it is difficult to make such bold predictions in a relatively unpredictable and changing economic environment. <ref name="Gibbs, M."> Gibbs, M. (2009) ‘Implementation barriers to establishing a sustainable coastal aquaculture sector’, Marine Policy 33 (1), 83- 89. </ref>

Conclusions & recommendations

Conclusions

Allocation of marine space for aquaculture in New Zealand falls heavily under the RMA 1991 and its relevant amendments which outline methods as to who are responsible for, and the terms for allocation of aquaculture management areas as well as other allocation criteria. Despite the legislation and associated methods being ever-changing, similar problems continue to exist among stakeholders due to changing practices and increased demand for aquaculture space. Much similar to many other processes in the RMA 1991, it is important that clear economic incentives of aquaculture in the short term not overwhelm the unclear environmental repercussions of the future. Until aquaculture and marine farm management becomes a clear cut science, ambiguity in legislation will continue to exist; therefore, caution should be taken in the location and size of developments.

Although recent legislation is designed to streamline the process of space allocation for aquaculture and will likely increase development in the aquaculture industry, it is important that government at all levels create and follow appropriate protocol in order to not overlook environmental factors because of financial incentives. Time will tell whether the new aquaculture legislation and method for management will be effective in balancing the interests of all parties in a desired environmentally, economically, socially and culturally beneficial manner.

Recommendations

Foremost, the team suggests that the current NZCPS and RMA – the legislative documents which provide councils with guidance on how to manage the allocation of marine space, advocate for ecologically sustainable development of marine space. Currently, neither documents explicitly prioritise ecological considerations but rather attempt to balance competing social, economic, ecological and cultural considerations. We argue that for ecologically sustainable development of natural and physical resources in the coastal environment to occur, the RMA regime and NZCPS should be amended to give priority to ecological considerations. We believe that the RMA and subsequent NZCPS should explicitly acknowledge that both society and the economy are embedded within the bio-physical environment and that the well-being of both is ultimately dependent on the sound management of natural and physical resources. However, we acknowledge that this sort of change is unlikely to occur due to the fact that we are operating in a capitalist society that’s overarching concern is to develop the economy.

We also recommend that the ambiguous terms such as “significant” should be addressed and a list of definitions should be provided in the RMA to ensure that the allocation of marine space is not, or less frequently, at the mercy of debate due to varying interpretations of terms such as this one. In spite of the considerably difficultly with achieving consensus on what terms such as “significant” mean due to conflicting opinions, we argue that providing a list of definitions should at the very least be considered. In addition, we advocate that research into whether local people are aware of the implications of the elected representative they select and the possible ways in which communities can become more aware of the importance of electing representatives could help to ensure that the local authorities making decisions about the allocation of marine space represent a broader spectrum of interests.

Also, we propose that the RMA should be amended to allow for groups and communities to make submissions rather than only allow for submissions made by individuals. This would improve local people’s opportunities for collective resistance – essentially the resistance necessary to influence the political leaders who have significant decision-making power. The promotion of or allowance for collective resistance, through group submissions, would ensure that marine space allocated for aquaculture would be fair and not only serve the interests of parties with economic interests. In addition, we think that it would be useful for the NCPS that was gazetted in 2010 to be independently reviewed to assess whether the issues with the previous NZCPS’s have been sufficiently addressed. We also argue that more research should be conducted to find out whether the reasons for changing the combined method of management addressed when the method changed. This research would help improve the method for managing the allocation marine space and ensure better protection of the marine space and consequently, the coastal environment.

References

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