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The primary ministries involved in the management of aquaculture are the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment for coastal marine aquaculture, and the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) for freshwater aquaculture.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and agencies under its mandate, regulates food standards and safety for all animal products and materials, including fish feed and fish products.
New Zealand has not adopted a specific code of conduct for fisheries or aquaculture.
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.
In addition, the Ministry of Māori Affairs has an interest in some part of New Zealand's broad aquaculture regulatory system, although its role is not as prominent as the other ministries.
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.Freshwater aquaculture activities are regulated by the , 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.
Aquaculture activity does not include activities where the fish or aquatic life is not in the exclusive and continual possession of the aquaculturists, and activities where fish or aquatic life cannot be distinguished from those that are naturally occurring.
“Aquatic life” includes any species of plant or animal that must inhabit water, during its life history, including seabirds.