NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand’s government has introduced a bill to extend existing marine farm licenses by up to 20 years, a significant move to support its aquaculture sector.

This bill, announced by the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry, aims to alleviate the industry’s substantial regulatory burden and ensure stability and long-term planning for marine farms.

The proposed legislation, which will only apply to current licenses and will not extend beyond 2050, includes provisions for local councils to reassess the conditions of these licenses.

The select committee stage, scheduled for this month, will involve public consultations. The bill, anticipated to be approved in July, promises a more streamlined process for the industry.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones emphasized the benefits of this legislative change after its first reading in Parliament on June 1st. “The existing resource consent process is overly complex, expensive, and time-consuming,” Jones noted.

Data from the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry reveals that approximately 1,200 marine farms in New Zealand require resource consent under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Of these, around 200 farms need to renew their licenses by the end of 2024, facing renewal costs ranging from NZD 20,000 (US$12,255) to NZD 100,000 (US$61,2750 with the process averaging six months.

In April, the Coalition Government announced measures to reduce bureaucratic hurdles for fisheries and aquaculture, acknowledging these primary industries as crucial to New Zealand’s prosperity.

Among various initiatives, there has been research into commercial snapper breeding, efforts to address kina barrens, and support for projects to improve mussel survival rates.

Minister Jones reiterated the importance of aquaculture to New Zealand, highlighting its role in regional employment and export growth.

In 2023, the aquaculture sector generated NZD 575 million (US$352M) in export revenue and employed 3,225 people.

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