Government plans to boost aquaculture may allow the fisheries minister to override regional coastal plans in "exceptional circumstances", Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley said today.
Cabinet has agreed to a range of amendments intended to boost the sector's earning potential, Mr Heatley said.
While central government was committed to supporting industry growth and development, management of aquaculture would remain with regional councils, he said.
There was agreement in principle that the minister would amend regional plans "in cases of significant regional or national interest", he said.
"We want to free up regulatory bottlenecks that have kept aquaculture planning in limbo," he said.
Inflexible rules had stifled the industry, stopping companies from investing in the sector, and the creation of new aquaculture space had stalled.
Government supported the industry goal of generating annual sales of $1 billion by 2025, a three-fold increase on present levels.
"We need to create the right platform for our aquaculture sector to realise its full potential," he said.
"This is about growing the economy, creating more jobs and getting more people into work."
As part of the changes, the Resource Management Act would be streamlined, and a business unit would be created within the Fisheries Ministry.
Any changes would still protect the environment and recreational opportunities.
The Government set up an advisory group on aquaculture last year, chaired by former cabinet minister Sir Doug Kidd. It delivered its report to the Government in November and submissions on it closed on December 16.
More than 200 submissions were received, 80 of which were from the recreational sector.
Other well-represented stakeholders were the aquaculture industry, environmental interests, customary fishers.
The Government earlier announced it would contribute $1.69 million to a seafood and aquaculture research facility. The research facility was expected to cost $5.73m, including the government funding.