6 May 2009

$97 million fishery settlement signed off

8:31 pm on 6 May 2009

The Government has signed a $97 million Treaty settlement with more than 20 iwi to give them a decade of historic fisheries rights.

About 300 people were at Te Papa's marae in Wellington on Wednesday afternoon to witness the event.

In a settlement four years ago, the Maori tribes of the Hauraki Gulf and the South Island were promised 20% of all so-called "pre-commencement space" which is the new marine farming areas created after 1992.

But when it was clear there were many problems with handing over the farms and quotas, the 21 iwi approached the Crown for a cash equivalent.

This was due by 2014, but the then Labour Government last year agreed to bring the payment forward to enable Maori to develop the fisheries.

The $97 million sum covers the aquaculture areas of the Coromandel and Firth of Thames and the whole of the South Island.

Hauraki tribes will get about $20 million, and Ngai Tahu more than $5 million.

Seafood industry's huge potential

Aquaculture New Zealand says growing international demand for sustainable seafood means the industry has the potential to grow to a billion-dollar business.

It's currently worth $360 million a year.

At the Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington on Wednesday, Aquaculture New Zealand's chief executive Mike Burrell said the industry has learned from the misakes of other countries.

The government has identified 19 sites for potential aquaculture development and in a few months is expected to pass the Aquaculture Amendment Bill Number 2 to relax industry regulations.