New Zealand - Federated Farmers backs restarting aquaculture

January 11, 2010

Federated Farmers backs restarting aquaculture

NEW ZEALAND - Federated Farmers submission on restarting aquaculture has called for the prohibition on the commercial farming of trout to be lifted.  It has also called for a review of both the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish), to determine which Ministry is best placed to support aquaculture.

"The Federation believes there's considerable scope for land based and freshwater aquaculture and that's the thrust of our submission," says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

"We're looking to the future in order to generate opportunities to grow farming in all of its guises. This includes the farming of whitebait, fresh water mussels, eels as well as freshwater crayfish.  Even Paua can be farmed in land-based operations as is done in Australia.

"The one ‘no go' area seems to be trout, which is odd, given trout is a member of the Salmonidae family and there's no qualms about farming salmon.

"Fly fishing tourism in Scotland seems completely unaffected by Loch Etive sea run trout sold in British supermarkets.  That you can easily buy a salmon at a New World in Timaru, doesn't stop people buying licenses in the hope of catching a wild one out of the Rangitata.

"The annual European Union harvest of farmed trout is 203,000 tonnes, which is just under half of our lamb exports and trout is worth some $500 million annually to the Norwegian economy.

"I must ask why isn't New Zealand farming trout as we do salmon?  Lifting this ban creates a new business opportunity for the country.

"So instead of treating aquaculture by its fish output, we're also asking if we ought to be looking to its farming function instead.  It's why we need to establish if MAF or MFish is best positioned to restart aquaculture.

"The Federation isn't big on reinventing the wheel so we're uneasy about some of the Technical Advisory Group's recommendations.  This includes an Aquaculture Agency within MFish that would be part funded by a new levy with the formation of a stand alone Aquaculture Fund.

"The proposed Aquaculture Agency could become a precedent setting ‘mini-MAF' while a levy, if that's desired by the industry, should operate under the existing Commodity Levies Act.  Even a ring fenced fund could be established within the existing Sustainable Farming Fund.

"The Federation did feel there were positive proposals for reform of the Resource Management Act but these needed a wider airing to ensure the entire agricultural sector benefits.

"Strategically, aquaculture has major economic potential for New Zealand that needs to be harnessed in order to grow our economy.

"20 percent of the diet for some 2.6 billion people is made up of fish protein and over the next four decades, the world's human population will expand by some 3.7 billion people.  That's a big reason to give our farmers the legislative means to realise the opportunity," Mr Nicolson concluded.

Download a copy of the submission from the link below (PDF)