new AMA space created - Anderton concedes
article was originally published in The
Independent on 20th June 2007.
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton has conceded Labour's Maori caucus
MP's have won their scrap with him over his now aborted attempt
to push fisheries sustainability legislation through Parliament
by the beginning of the 1 October, 2007 fishing year.
Anderton made the concession while being questioned by National
Party Fisheries spokesman Phil Heatley before Parliament's Primary
Production Select Committee last week.
Anderton said the walls of the Beehive cabinet room were littered
by the remains of successive Fisheries Ministers who had endeavoured
to take on the litigious fishing industry over the years.
Late last year Anderton decided to champion the Fisheries Act 1996
Amendment Bill and give fisheries officials more power in deciding
the sustainability of quota for individual fisheries.
The proposal drew strong criticism from the fishing industry - who
took Anderton and his Ministry to court over the issue late last
year - and Parliament's Labour Maori MP's alike.
The Government - acting on advice from Auckland barrister Alan Ivory
and Crown Counsel Peter McCarthy (from Crown Law) - late last year
decided not to defend the judicial review orange roughy case brought
by Antons Trawling Company Ltd.
This case was a catalyst behind Anderton's decision to amend section
10 of the 1996 Fisheries Act.
Anderton told the select committee he preferred a cooperative approach
when it came to passing legislation.
'It's better to take a bit longer to get something done rather than
bash it through and have everyone unhappy...I have discovered like
others warned me that it would be more difficult than perhaps I
thought (to get the legislation through),' Anderton said.
Heatley also questioned Anderton on the subject of aquaculture and
the difficulty marine farmers were having in their endeavours to
establish new aquaculture marine areas (AMA's) under 2004 legislation
introduced by previous Fisheries Minister, David Benson-Pope.
Anderton said he was not at the stage of giving up on the Benson-Pope
legislation - under which regional councils are required to establish
AMA's via a Resource Management Act path.
'Why is it,' Heatley asked, 'not one new AMA has been established
under the new legislation in the past 30 months?'
Anderton conceded there had been no new space created under the
AMA framework. However he said space had been created under the
previous legislation in the past 30 months.
He said he was not ready to give up on the new legislation just
He said the Government had forked out about $2million in grants
to regional councils to assist them in their efforts to establish
'We are working with four or five councils now...If we run into
unalterable obstacles...then I am willing to have a look at amendments
to the Act,' he said.
He was also asked by Heatley to comment on a report in the Marlborough
Express newspaper this week stating local Maori wanted $30 million
to help develop aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds.
Under the 2004 legislation the Labour Government agreed Maori should
be given the equivalent of 20% of all existing and 20% of all future
If this commitment could not be met by 2014 the Government also
agreed there would be a (massive) cash payout to Maori in compensation.
The requested $30 million referred to by Marlborough Maori this
week was a request for an advance payment on this 2014 treaty settlement
Anderton scoffed at the suggestion this money should be paid out
'Are they going to write out the cheque themselves,' he laughed.
Anderton said it was too early to be talking about such payments
as under the legislation compensatory aquaculture space for Maori
had to be found between 2008-14.
'That's the path we're going down,' Anderton said.
Meanwhile aquaculture industry leaders told The Independent last
week they were disappointed Prime Minister Helen Clark did not refer
to problems (in her speech) the industry was having with the 2004
legislation when she officiallly opened the new government sponsored
Aquaculture NZ industry body in Nelson earlier this month.
They told The Independent they had been led to believe by officials
Clark would make the concession to the industry in her speech at
Nelson's Boathouse - however there was no sign of the concession
in her speech, the industry leaders said.