Marlborough Community, Council and Aquaculture work together...

posted Oct 5, 2016, 11:31 AM by Dayal Phillips

The recently formed Smart and Connected Aquaculture initiative has been established to address a range of issues and reassess the 40-year-old's industry's aims, steering group chairman Brendon Burns said.  

Council has budgeted almost $500,000 to support on Smart and Connected economic development groups between 2015-2018.  Currently the aquaculture industry in Marlborough supplied the majority of New Zealand's mussel and salmon production, generated more than $160 million a year to the local economy, and provided work for almost 1000 people, he said.

Marlborough's aquaculture sector is working to connect closer to the community to help provide security of tenure for existing marine farms, and help meet future national industry targets.  

Smart and Connected groups have been successful in forging closer economic working relationships between council, and the regional forestry, and timber industries, and Picton and Renwick townships.

Marlborough's seafood production is set for increasing value growth as it contributed towards the national $1 billion revenue target for all aquaculture by 2025.  
"The industry recognised the need to be better engaged with the community and involve a wider section of groups to secure its future," he said.

Three working groups - Harmony, Value and Innovation, and Regulatory - have been formed within the Smart and Connected umbrella to help progress the industry.  A third group, Regulatory, is expected soon.

The new aquaculture group will have input from council, iwi, industry and community representatives, Burns said.

The Smart and Connected process had shown its value with similar groups set up, he said.

"Now there is an opportunity for aquaculture to enhance the value of what is produced from the Marlborough Sounds.

"It is also an opportunity for council to work with the marine farming community in a joint venture."

Burns said Marlborough was in an unique situation of having world class aquaculture and wine industries.   "No other region in the country has the same opportunity, or scale to be able to promote both farmed seafood and wine."

Securing the future productivity of aquaculture in Marlborough would rest on finding water space to expand with co-operation with interested groups, including Sounds residents, he said.

"The industry wants principally to secure space and is interested in working with council and the community to achieve this.

"We want to see the community have the opportunity to have more input into the whole process.  "Part of this will be sitting down with people to discuss views to build a broad consensus."

Harmony working group chairman Eric Jorgensen​ said the group, made up of forestry, marine farming and community representatives, would look at what issues the community related to and how the aquaculture sector could address the issues.  "There are some diverse communities in the region and the aquaculture sector cannot be introspective," he said.  

"Everyone wants to know what the future holds particularly around the re-consenting process in 2024."  With community support the industry can look outside its key requirements to overcome negative perceptions, he said.

"This is why we all need to align along a similar pathway to achieve our aims."

Value and Innovation sub-group chairman Zane Charman said the purpose of the group would be to find out how the aquaculture industry could add value by being innovative.  "We have a diverse mix of people in the group from science, wine, salmon and mussel sectors backgrounds," he said.  "We are keen to tap into the right areas of the community to build networks and ideas, and find out where we can improve on without being confrontational. 

"Good ideas are driven by participants in the group to find solutions and we will be approaching it with an open mind."

Both groups would present a range of preliminary ideas at meetings this week. 

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