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A Geography of Marine Farming Rights in New Zealand: Some Rubbings of Patterns on the Face of the Sea

Sustainable development of global marine resources has been the focus of various United Nations' agencies and coastal nations since World War II. As capture fisheries resources have come under pressure and perhaps reached their sustainable limit concern has been expressed over the ability to continue to meet the protein needs of expanding populations. One potentially significant contributor to addressing the food needs of the world is marine farming (mariculture). The expansion of marine farming in developing countries has been well-addressed in the literature, but marine farming in developed countries has received less attention. The traditional biophysical requirements of marine farming (sheltered clean water of appropriate depth) have led to conflicts with other users of the coastal environment. In the developed countries in particular, suitable sites are contested places of consumption (recreation, tourism) as well as production (capture fisheries). Moreover, the adjacent terrestrial land and water uses can significantly affect acceptability of marine farming. The avoidance of conflicts and the achievement of sustainable development in such settings are largely dependent on the systems of governance. In developed countries, these are often articulated through planning regimes and associated 'rights'. The global terrestrial planning response in the first two thirds of the 20th Century was dominated by a modernist approach to planning. In the later stages, a post-modern challenge coincided with the rise of neo-liberalism in many developed countries. Planning in New Zealand has shown a similar pattern. The extent to which modern, postmodern and neo-liberal approaches might have been manifest in the marine environment, especially with regard to marine farming, has received little attention. In most developed countries there has been an institutional separation between terrestrial and marine administrative agencies that has resulted in conflict between these agencies and between the regimes they work within and help create. Integrated Coastal Management emerged as a response to this situation and had become the dominant planning regime for coastal resources by the last decade of the 20th Century. It was largely uncritically promoted and accepted, especially by United Nations and coastal state government agencies. These themes provide the broad theoretical and practical context for this thesis. Since the 1970s, there has been a revolutionary break in New Zealand's resource management from a centralized command and control style of modernist planning to a neo-liberal, planning regime characterised by elements of modernism and postmodernism. Concurrently it has revamped, but failed to integrate, coastal and fisheries management and planning. Ironically, each of the resulting primary marine resource management statutes (the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Fisheries Act 1983/1996 (FA83/96)) is considered to implement a world-leading model. Marine farming lies at the interface between the regimes created by these and preceding Acts and the nature of the regimes is explored in relation to marine farming. The development of the regimes and the rationale for them is set out with the aid of Scott's (1989, 2000b) axial model of the characteristics of a property right. The thesis groups the development of the New Zealand planning regimes for marine farming into four era: pre-modern (1866-1964), proto-modern (1964-1971), modern (1971-1991), and transitional (1991-2001). The evolution of the industry is shown largely to follow a generalized model of the industry in developed countries. This suggests that the nature of the property rights available for marine farming in New Zealand is not of great significance in the general development of the industry. The planning regime, however, significantly affects the spatial pattern of development of the industry. An analysis of provisions for marine farms in various plans suggests quite different planning 'styles' and approaches have been adopted in different parts of the country at different times. A Geographic Information System of all individual marine farms in New Zealand is developed to the stage where it can be combined with other data to investigate the spatial patterns that have evolved in New Zealand. A typology of patterns of farm arrangement in relation to other farms is apparent from the resultant mapped information. These patterns are shown to represent the outcomes of a combination of competing rights and the responses of and to the contemporaneous planning regimes. The consequences of adopting different styles of planning are apparent. This macro-level research is extended to the micro-level by an exploration of variables affecting the individual farmer's locational decisions. A national postal questionnaire survey of marine farm owners yielded 148 usable responses (32% response rate). Inferential statistical analytical tools were used to test the significance of relationships between particular variables. Multivariate analyses were used to cluster the respondents and the variables and to search for latent factors. These analyses supported field interview findings with regard to the importance of particular variables, especially planning regimes in directing the location and nature of marine farming. The results enabled development of a descriptive model for exploring and comparing the quality of different means of acquiring marine space for marine farming. The analyses also confirmed that significant changes were occurring within the structure of the industry. Analysis of the field interviews, maps, policy documents, Environment Court decisions and other secondary material shows the major capture fishing companies are increasingly dominating the industry. There was a notable presence of a category of 'entrepreneur site developers' exploiting the neo-liberal nature of the planning regimes of the 1990s to open up new areas for marine farming on scales unprecedented in the rest of the world. The consequent race for space has met with stiff resistance from the capture fishing industry, but more especially from the recreational sector. This has led to significant transaction costs. The Government response, a partial moratorium on marine farm development in November 2001, is shown to emulate the modernist command and control style of planning of twenty years earlier and to signal a failure of neo-liberal ideology to meet the needs of the industry and the public at large.
Type of thesis
Rennie, H. G. (2002). A Geography of Marine Farming Rights in New Zealand: Some Rubbings of Patterns on the Face of the Sea (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2525
The University of Waikato
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