In 2004, New Zealand passed the Aquaculture Reform Act , which amended several existing acts and created two new acts. The Aquaculture Reform Act amended the:
The Resource Management Act of 1991 (RMA) , as amended, provides much of the framework for managing aquaculture in New Zealand. Under the RMA, the Minister of Conservation is responsible for preparing New Zealand coastal policy statements, approving regional coastal plans and permits for restricted coastal activities, and additional monitoring activities. The Ministry for the Environment's duties include making recommendations on issues for national policy statements, setting national environmental standards, and issuing water conservation orders. The Ministry also investigates the use of levies, fiscal measures, and incentives, and other economic instruments, that may be applied under the Act.
The MFish keeps a national registry of fish farmers, and manages and advises regional and territorial authorities on management of fisheries resources. Freshwater aquaculture activities are regulated by the Freshwater Fish Farm Regulations of 1983 , under the statutory guidance of the Fisheries Act of 1983, as amended. Pursuant to the Fisheries Act of 1996, the National Fisheries Advisory Council can advise the Minister on a variety of topics, including sustainability of use of fisheries resources for aquaculture purposes.
Direct management of aquaculture occurs at the regional and territorial level through regional coastal plans. These plans define zones within which aquaculture is permissible, set limits on the aquaculture activities and related industry activities, and specify limits on the character, intensity, or scale of activities, inter alia. The Ministry for the Environment has the authority to issue a national policy statement to guide the regional and territorial policy makers in developing policy initiatives.
The RMA, establishes that aquaculture activities are restricted to designated coastal marine areas, called aquaculture management areas (AMA). An AMA is defined by a regional or territorial authority (i.e. regional council), after consultation with an array of stakeholders, including MFish and the Ministry of the Environment. The regional council develops regional plans and policy statements in order to manage coastal resources, including aquaculture, and the plans are approved by the Department of Conservation. The aquaculture legislation also provides a new process whereby the regional council can invite members of the aquaculture sector to promote a change to a regional coastal plan, and provide for a new AMA. Should the AMA be successful designated, then the proponents gain preferential access to specific aquaculture coastal permits authorised within that AMA. Among other things, the plans set limits on the aquaculture activities and specify limits on the character, intensity, or scale of activities. Regional rules created from regional plans, are treated as regulations promulgated under the RMA. At the national level, a coastal policy statement issued by the Minister of Conservation is used to guide local policy makers in developing policy initiatives. The existing coastal policy statement, dating from 1994, is currently under review.
The rules and plans of a local authority will determine whether resource consents are required to carry out aquaculture related activities in a coastal zone. Resource consents may be required to utilize natural resources in a coastal zone or to discharge pollutants. Depending upon the rules in a regional plan, a coastal permit may require several resource consents (or a certificate of compliance) granting the right to use or subdivide land, divert water, or discharge pollutants into the environment. A certificate of compliance is an authorization, stating that the aquaculture-related activity can be lawfully carried out without a resource consent. Unless otherwise specified, a coastal permit is granted for a term of five years and will not be granted for a term exceeding 35 years. Coastal permits are transferable, in whole or in part, but coastal permits may not be transferred to another aquaculture management area.
Pursuant to the Fisheries Act of 1996, MFish keeps a registry of all freshwater and marine aquaculture farms in order to track the movement of farmed products. The fish farm registry helps to define farmed fish within the meaning of the Fisheries Act of 1996. The registry collects information such as the name of the fish farmer; the location and boundaries of the fish farm; and the species of fish, aquatic life, or seaweed that may be farmed. A fish farmer must first attain the appropriate resource consents before applying to the fish farmer registry.
Inland fish farming is regulated by MFish. The Minister of Fisheries is prohibited from making decisions in designated areas, in particular coastal marine area. Therefore, “inland” fish farming is defined by the remaining area within New Zealand that is not the designated area prohibited by regulation. The Freshwater Fish Farming Regulations of 1983, as amended, control freshwater and marine fish species that are farmed on land. The MFish publishes a notice in the gazette, listing the species of fish that can be farmed in New Zealand . In order to apply for a fish farming license, one must acquire evidence of land ownership or lease, and obtain approval from the local authority in the form of a resource consent or certificate of compliance. Fees are on a sliding scale related to the “amount of time” taken to process the application and may vary from year to year. Licences must be renewed on an annual basis. Although some resource consents are transferable, a fish farmer may not transfer, lease, or assign his or her registration as a fish farmer. The fish farmer and any employee or agent of the fish farmer may take farmed fish from a site specified in the registration, and possess, sell, or otherwise dispose of farmed fish.
Access to land and water, for use in AMAs, is controlled by the policy statements and plans drafted by local and regional councils. A water resource consent and a land use consent must be obtained from the local or regional council prior to water abstraction, diversion, or use of coastal waters, and before access to land is granted. Water and land use permits are transferable, but with several restrictions.
The RMA also prohibits taking heat or energy, damming, or diversion of water, from non-coastal, freshwater. Within freshwater, an individual may reasonably divert water for domestic use, to feed animals, so long as the diversion is not likely to adversely affect the environment. Open coastal water may only be diverted subject to an express authorization in a resource consent. However, no permit is required where a rule in regional plan expressly allows water, heat or energy, to be diverted, or used within a coastal zone.
Coastal zone management
On a day-to-day basis, coastal zone management in New Zealand is administered at the regional and national level, through policy statements and plans. Regional policy statements and plans are prepared in consultation with the Minister for the Environment, other affected government agencies, local indigenous groups (e.g. the Māori), and environmental reserves that may be affected. Regional coastal policy statements or coastal plans are drafted in consultation with the Minister of Conservation, Minister of Transportation, and the Minister of Fisheries.
As mentioned above, a regional council can create an aquaculture management area in a coastal area, by designating such space in the regional coastal plan. The regional coastal plan may also allocate space to indigenous groups through the Te Ohu Kai Moana trust. The Te Ohu Kai Moana is a trust, established to advance the interests of certain indigenous groups like the Māori in the development fisheries, fishing, and fisheries-related activities. Before a regional coastal plan or a change to a regional coastal plan becomes operative, the regional council must identify 20 percent of the new space for allocation to the Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited.
The Department of Conservation licenses commercial activities in conservation areas under its authority. The Department may grant a lease, a license, a permit, or an easement for any activity, including fish farming and aquaculture. Among other things, an application must describe the proposed activity and location, and it must describe potential adverse effects and plans to mitigate the effects. For concession agreements, fees are negotiated and might be based upon a fixed fee, the market value of the activity, gross revenue, or other factors, including value associated with an areas intrinsic natural or historic resources; or result from a combination of fees. A lease, license, or easement may be granted for no longer than 30 years, including all renewals, however under “exceptional” cases the Department of Conservation may extend a lease or license for up to 60 years.
In addition to the consultation required by the adverse impact assessment, the RMA invites broad public and private participation into the development of policy statements and plans that establish guidelines and rules that local authority use to evaluate the impact assessments. The RMA requires several levels of consultation with government and private interests when drafting policy statements and plans. A regional policy statement or plan must be drafted in consultation with the Ministry for the Environment, the iwi (e.g. Māori), other affected ministries, local authorities, and the board of any foreshore reserve. In addition to the requirements of a regional plan, a regional coastal plan must consult the Minister of Conservation, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Fisheries, and other affected persons. According to the Local Government Act of 2002 (LGA) , persons affected, or having an interest in a statement or plan should be given access to information and provided an opportunity to present their views. The local authority should provide clear information concerning the purpose of the consultation and the scope of the decisions. The LGA states that affected person should be received with an open mind, and given due consideration, and provided with the local authority's decisions and the reasons for those decisions.
The Fisheries Act does not have an equivalent impact assessment regime. However, the Conservation Act of 1987 permits the Department of Conservation to require an environmental impact assessment when it receives an application to transfer fish to a location where the species does not exist or an application to carry out commercial activities in conservation areas.
At the national level, the Ministry for the Environment has certain responsibilities for enforcing the RMA. The RMA prohibits the discharge of contaminants into water, or land, including natural processes that may cause contaminants to leak into water. The Act also prohibits discharging industrial contaminants, or allowing them to discharge into air or land. The Ministry can make regulations that permit or prohibit contaminants or change limitations, quantities, components, and prescribing exemptions to prohibited contaminants.
The importation of live animals, including live fish, is not permitted in New Zealand without meeting certain conditions which may depend upon country of origin. An import permit may be required, and certain animals may be subject to quarantine by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), or prohibited from entering New Zealand if the species are designated as “protected” species. The Biosecurity Act of 1993 establishes an import health standard for all goods in order to assess the risk associated with certain “risk goods” before importation into New Zealand. The import health standard may apply to specific countries, specific locations, or all countries. When determining an import health standard, the Ministry must consider New Zealand’s international obligations and determine how likely the goods are to bring unwanted organisms into New Zealand and affect people or the environment. Biosecurity New Zealand is the division of the MAF in charge of preventing the import and export of pests and diseases.
Additional import rules are found in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Amendment Act of 2002, which regulates genetically modified organisms. The Ministry for the Environment is empowered to make decisions based upon significant cultural, economic, environmental, ethical, health, international, or spiritual effects. The Act specifies the procedure for applying to import or release new organisms into New Zealand and the development of new organisms under containment. The Ministry has adopted a case-by-case approach to considering the entire production chain of GMOs, which are not currently produced on a commercial scale or available for sale in New Zealand. However, the MAF has approved some processed foods that may be genetically modified, which could include processed fish or shellfish products.
Freshwater fish movement is regulated by both MFish and the Department of Conservation. The purchase or acquisition of fish or aquatic life is strictly regulated in the Fisheries Act of 1996, as amended. Only licensed fish farmers, fish receivers, and commercial fishermen may be in possession of fish and aquatic life for purpose of sale. The transfer or release of aquatic life, including fish, into any freshwater is prohibited. According to the Conservation Act of 1987, as amended, prior approval from the Minister of Fisheries is required to move fish between sites where the species already exists, and between the islands of New Zealand. Approval from the Department of Conservation is required where the species of fish does not previously exist, including the release of new species into existing fish farms, and the transfer of fish into other lands managed by the Ministry.
In an emergency outbreak, MFish is authorised to prohibit the harvesting of fish, restrict the taking and manner in which fish are caught, set or alter the fish season, require the disposal of fish, or impose additional reporting requirements. MFish may also take these actions if a stock or species is in serious decline or if there is a significant change in the aquatic environment. The Minister is required to give official notice in the gazette of any emergency measures taken. The Minister consults with all classes of persons having interest in the fish stock or affected area, which may include the Māori, environmental, commercial, and recreational interests. Emergency measures may be implemented up to three months and be extended for a total of nine months, prior to consultation with representatives of the classes of persons having an interest in the stock.
Imported and domestically produced food, sold in New Zealand, must comply with the New Zealand Food Standard Maximum Residue Limits of Agricultural Compounds (MRL). The MRL for New Zealand is 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed. With limited exceptions, no person may sell or use any agricultural compound unless that agricultural compound is a registered trade name product. The MAF can determine whether certain agricultural products should be registered as a trade name, or can be sold without such registration. To register a product in New Zealand, it cannot be a prohibited substance or biological compound, nor can the product be prohibited from use as an ingredient in an agricultural compound. The Animal Remedies Act of 1967 preceded the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, and may still have effect for some registered veterinary compounds and medicines that were registered before the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act of 1997.
An “agricultural compound” includes any substance or biological compound used in the direct management of plants and animals, or applied to the land, place or water where plants and animals are managed, for the purposes of:
The Fisheries Act and the RMA do not address restrictions on fish feed in any significant manner. In general, restrictions on the use of animal feed are governed by the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act. It is unlawful to sell or use an agricultural compound, which includes animal feed, unless it is a registered trade name product, or it is exempted under the statute by regulation of the MAF. A full schedule of prohibited compounds, exemptions and accepted additives may be found in the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Regulations of 2001.
The MAF is responsible for ensuring overall food safety in New Zealand. In addition, there are two other agencies that take leading roles in the implementation, and enforcement of food safety standards - Biosecurity New Zealand, and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA). Biosecurity New Zealand establishes requirements for importing consumable foods and is responsible for animal and plant quarantine. NZFSA is a semi-autonomous body attached to the MAF responsible for the administration of domestic food sales, primary processing of animal products, exports of plant products, agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines. The NZFSA combines some functions of the MAF and the food-related functions of the Ministry of Health. It also works with other ministries and with food safety and public health agencies and interest groups to raise community awareness on issues of food safety and food borne illnesses.
The MAF is authorised to set minimum requirements for quality and safety for foods sold or imported into New Zealand. Among other things, the Ministry regulates food safety and composition; production and preparation of food; genetic modification; food safety programmes, sampling and testing; packaging, storage, and handling; and regulates the maximum amounts of contaminants or residues that may be present in food. The Minister can make regulations setting the maximum amounts of contaminants or residues that may be present in food, and regulate the maximum or minimum amounts of additives or other substances that may be present in food. The Ministry of Health has the authority to make regulations for the protection of food from the infection of any communicable disease.
In New Zealand, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles are carried out by the risk management programme administered under the Animal Products Act of 1999. Primary processors of animal material must develop a risk management programme under the Act. The programme is designed to identify, control and manage or eliminate hazards related to the production and processing of animal material. Secondary processors of animal products may be authorised under a risk management programme or a food safety programme. Primary processors are a statutory class of traders and merchants, defined by the MAF, and notified to the public. The Minister defines a class of primary processors in consultation with industry traders and merchants taking into account industry practices, the risk factors involved and the degree of processing, inter alia. Secondary processors of fish or shellfish are those that process fish material beyond the primary process. A food safety programme also uses many of the same HACCP principles, but is administered under the statutory framework of the Food Act of 1987, as amended. Secondary processors that register a risk management or food safety programme are not required to register or be inspected by the local environmental health officers and can apply to be exempt from the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974. The New Zealand Food Safety Authority monitors and audits the business under either the risk management programme or the food safety programme.
The Food Act of 1981, as amended, prohibits the sale or import, advertising or promoting any food that does not comply with all of New Zealand’s applicable food standards. It is unlawful to produce any food that does not comply with all applicable food standards relating to the production of that specific food. The Act also prohibits the manufacture, preparation, selling or importing of any food into New Zealand, unless that food complies with all applicable food standards relating to food safety, composition, or manufacturing and preparation of food for sale.
An exporter of animal material or product must be registered as an exporter pursuant to the Animal Products Act of 1999. Export operations must comply with the provisions of the Act. In particular, the exporter must maintain procedures and processes to demonstrate that the record-keeping requirements are fulfilled and meet relevant animal product standards and specifications, before exporting those products. The exporter must also notify the MAF where animal material or products are not fit for export, or are no longer fit for intended purpose; or where the goods are refused entry by a foreign government, or no longer have official assurances required.
The Animal Products Act of 1999 applies to all animal material whether alive or dead, and all products derived from animal material, whether edible or non-edible. Animal material includes mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects, among other things. Accordingly, all primary processors of animal material, or secondary processors of animal products that are intended for animal or human consumption, must have a risk management programme. However, secondary processors of animal products may elect to operate under a food safety programme.
Organic foods are regulated by the Dairy and Plant Products (D&PP), in the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA). The D&PP develops and operates the Official Organic Assurances Project (OOAP) for organic plant, animal and dairy produce exported to the European Union and other international markets. D&PP also assists in the development of New Zealand's Organic Standards.
There are several acts in New Zealand that establish explicit rights protecting natural resources of indigenous groups. The government of New Zealand has established the Ministry of Māori Affairs to address and manage affairs of traditional groups, including the provision of social services, education, fisheries, etc. Some key legislation includes: