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Confidence growing in BOP aquaculture industry

Confidence around the Bay of Plenty’s aquaculture industry is soaring after a recent Bay of Connections delegation to Australia’s aquaculture capital of Port Lincoln in South Australia.

The Bay of Connections Regional Aquaculture Organisation (RAO) delegation of 18 included representatives from local government, investors and the science sector. The purpose of the Port Lincoln trip was to share the knowledge and challenges faced by the local aquaculture industry, with a view to further developing the industry in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Team Blue - the delegation to Port Lincoln

Opotiki is currently home to a developing aquaculture industry, including the development of New Zealand’s largest deep water marine farm, with port and harbour developments also planned. Port Lincoln features world class tuna, mussel, kingfish, oyster and abalone operations, with conditions and species that are similar to the Bay of Plenty, making it the perfect location to see what can be done to develop the region’s blue economy.

RAO chair Graeme Coates says the field trip yielded some extremely valuable information for the Bay of Plenty industry, particularly around mussel processing, kingfish hatcheries and tuna fisheries operations, with the trip also cementing the potential value of the industry for the wider region.

“We went with open minds about what we would learn on the trip and it surpassed all expectations. We saw so many varied operations in a very small geographical area, and learnt that you don’t have to be a big operation in the first instance – there is always room for growth.

“Seeing Port Lincoln and how such a humming industry town can develop around aquaculture reinforced that developing the likes of Opotiki is not just a pipe dream.”

Mr Coates says local government representatives on the trip were encouraged by the overall positivity within the industry and potential for continuing growth. He says it also “opened a lot of minds” in terms of social licensing and permitting.

“There was good discussion around the importance of involving the community and reinforced that the way the Bay of Connections is currently doing things in the region in that space is right on track.

“There were also key examples of permitting and planning where differences could be made in the Bay of Plenty, such as considering the likes of oyster farms in estuaries and inlets such as we saw in Port Lincoln. Currently the Bay of Plenty doesn’t allow that, but perhaps we need to think about reviewing things to encourage growth.”

Bay of Connections chair Doug Leeder who was also part of the delegation, says Port Lincoln is 20 years ahead in its development of the aquaculture industry.

“This gives us the perfect opportunity to learn a great deal from local operators, including the challenges they face day-to-day, and how we can apply that knowledge to developing the aquaculture industry in the Bay of Plenty.”

The fieldtrip itinerary covered everything from inspiration and innovative thinking, to science and education, environmental management and industry development. The group were warmly welcomed by the region, including a meet and greet hosted by the Port Lincoln mayor, his councillors and industry reps, with a 90 second story on the New Zealand delegation also featuring on South Australian TV news.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

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