Aquaculture will not fill the Tiwai-shaped gap in the Southland economy, the export minister says.
The industry's future was discussed during a breakfast with Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker and the local business community yesterday.
During a question and answer session, Southland aquaculture working group member Rex Chapman said it had worked for years to encourage aquaculture growth and the 2019 Aquaculture Strategy was "tailor-made" for the region.
However, the regulatory framework impeded growth.
"The RMA has not worked for many parts of New Zealand and that is very true of aquaculture."
He asked Parker what the plan was. The minister responded there was progress being made, which included the National Environmental Standards on renewals for existing in-shore aquaculture.
However, Parker said an issue to be "worked out" was if aquaculture participants using public space would be required to pay for it.
"I think if they come forward with some ideas as to a rent they might pay, that will prevent the risk of land banking, or sea-bed banking, and some of the other things will flow more easily."
That rent could be based on revenue or profit, but the minister was having discussions with those in the industry.
"It is true there is significant potential for deep-sea aquaculture and, done well, it will bring jobs and earn export revenues and it won't have a significant impact on the environment."
The Westpac Economic Bulletin from August describes aquaculture as an industry that was identified as Southland's "best near-term economic opportunity", although it was doubtful whether it could fully compensate for the loss of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.
"I wouldn't pitch aquaculture as being a substitute for Tiwai.
"I know of no plan to build a replacement factory that would produce something else that would employ the same number of people."