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Reports to aid growth of aquaculture industry

Three desktop studies into aquaculture in the Bay of Plenty have recently been completed and have confirmed the viability of growth for the industry, particularly around Greenshell Mussels.

The studies, commissioned by the Bay of Connections Regional Aquaculture Organisation (RAO), looked at the neutraceutical value and spatfall of Greenshell Mussels in the Bay of Plenty, as well as the biosecurity risks facing aquaculture in the region.

Aquaculture in New Zealand currently generates $350 – $400 million in annual sales, with two-thirds of those sales coming from exports. The Bay of Connections, which is the economic development strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty, has a goal to grow an aquaculture industry in the Bay with export sales of $250 million by 2025.

RAO chairman Graeme Coates (pictured) says a highlight of the reports is that they show no significant threats to the growth of aquaculture in the Bay of Plenty.

“The reports unravelled some of the mysteries and potential risks to developing the industry in the Bay of Plenty and although there were risks identified, they also revealed how to combat them and no major threats to future growth were found.

“The results also reinforced other work being done within the industry by the likes of Eastern Sea Farms, the University of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

“The information provided in the reports will be of value to new entrants into the aquaculture industry in the Bay of Plenty, in particular to prospective mussel farmers. It provides insight into the potential to develop further business cases, and provides a greater understanding of aquaculture.”

Mr Coates says the biosecurity report confirmed a national “hole” in some biosecurity issues, particularly around recreational vessels and how the Bay of Plenty needs to work with neighbouring regions in order to respond. However, the report was comparable with other aquaculture regions around the country, with experienced marine farmers aware of the risks and how to manage any possible incursion.

Outcomes of the chemical and neutraceutical value of Greensheel Mussels in the region were inconclusive, due to damage of the samples used, but further tests are being carried out by Eastern Sea Farms.

The report into Greenshell Mussel spatfall in the Bay of Plenty provided a better understanding of the opportunities, and availability and sourcing of locally caught spat. Spat catching is an integral part of mussel farming and Mr Coates says although it poses a risk to the industry due to current shortages in New Zealand, there are also great opportunities around development.

Mr Coates says the next steps include the RAO continuing to work alongside and support the industry as well as councils in terms of lessening restrictions to growth and encouraging people to the region.

“With the work done to-date giving guidance on how best to proceed, the attention now moves to the community and investment – how to get more people coming into the region and establishing more aquaculture sites, as well as supporting infrastructure.”

For more information on the reports, click here.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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