Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today to co-sign and celebrate the Southland Regional Aquaculture Agreement between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Ohu Kaimoana and the Crown.
Let me begin by acknowledging the passing of Sandra Cook, of Ōraka Aparima. Sandra was passionate about people and conservation and worked tirelessly on behalf of her rūnaka and iwi in various roles over the past twenty years.
The Agreement is the culmination of years of hard work and represents a fantastic opportunity for Ngāi Tahu. It is also an opportunity for the Crown to meet its obligations in accordance with the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.
I am pleased to see that similar agreements have been signed between the Crown and Iwi in the Auckland, Waikato-East, Tasman, Marlborough, and Canterbury regions.
I anticipate that the Southland Aquaculture Agreement will, over time, yield significant economic and other benefits to local communities in Southland. As the industry develops, it will also be important that we fully consider the environment, ensuring that we work together to mitigate potential adverse impacts.
The conclusion of the Southland Agreement comes at an exciting time for our aquaculture industry. The development of the industry has gained impetus following the release of the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy in 2019.
The Strategy aims for New Zealand to become world-leading in innovative aquaculture and to make the industry more sustainable, productive, resilient and inclusive.
On the latter point, the Strategy aims to build Māori and community knowledge about aquaculture and their input into growth opportunities. It will deliver the Crown’s aquaculture settlement obligations in a manner that facilities early investment in new opportunities. The Strategy also recognises Māori values and aspirations across the work programme.
Under the Strategy, the Government will work alongside the aquaculture industry to deliver economic growth and jobs for the regions as part of an ambitious goal for it to become a $3 billion industry by 2035.
The Aquaculture Strategy also focuses efforts on:
-the development of sustainable open ocean and land-based farming;
-increasing farm efficiency;
-increasing product value and environmental performance in existing inshore farming;
-building resilience to environment change; and,
-supporting the development and adoption of new technologies and practices to reduce the industry’s contribution to waste and emissions.
In a broader context, the Aquaculture Strategy sits within the Government’s other marine-related priorities, many of which are overseen by me and the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, the Hon David Parker.
Our vision is to ensure the long-term health and resilience of ocean and coastal ecosystems, including the role of fisheries.
Our shared work programme is designed to achieve three key objectives:
An ecosystem-based approach to research, monitoring and management
A spatial planning framework that gets the balance right between the protection and use of marine space and resources, and
A high-value marine economy that provides equitable wellbeing benefits.
Our priorities include considering options for progressing marine protected areas reform. Current legislation and processes are outdated and not fit for purpose to protect marine biodiversity.
Another key priority is to progress the Southeast Marine Protection Process. I am confident that the innovative work we are doing together will result in outcomes that everyone is comfortable with and will advance marine protection in Aotearoa.
Finally, I would like to say that I and Te Papa Atawhai place great importance on our relationship with Ngāi Tahu.
Te Papa Atawhai has been working to elevate the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and fulfil its role as a Treaty partner.
The Department’s Section 4 responsibilities under the Conservation Act give effect to the principles of the Treaty and this is integral to the way we undertake conservation in Aotearoa.
We know that many of the places and species in conservation lands and waters are significant to whānau, hapū and iwi. It is critical that we work together to ensure Papatūānuku thrives.
Ngāi Tahu and Te Papa Atawhai are committed to putting in the work to be great partners in conservation. Over the past year we have made strides in strengthening our strategic alignment, understanding each other’s aspirations, and identifying how to work best together from now into the future.
In relation to the Agreement we have signed today, as rangatira and kaitiaki, it is important that Ngāi Tahu has the opportunity to be integrally involved in the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry in Aotearoa.
I look forward to continuing to work together in the conservation space and to supporting Ngāi Tahu in the aspiration to become leaders in sustainable aquaculture growth.