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New Zealand’s aquaculture industry can reach its goal of $1 billion in sales by 2025 if it expands into new high-value finish, chief executive of NIWA John Morgan says.

The New Zealand cabinet has agreed to a range of amendments that will help boost the sector’s potential to generate sustainable economic growth for the industry in New Zealand. Morgan welcomed the New Zealand government’s regulatory reform announced by Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Phil Heatley. NIWA is a crown-owned research consultancy.

The proposed reform includes a range of measures to help aquaculture reach its potential, such as streamlining the Resource Management Act, encouraging investment by injecting certainty into the system, and a central government commitment to support industry growth and development.

Regional councils will have regulatory responsibility for the management of aquaculture  but the reforms include agreement in principle to establish a power for the Minister to amend regional coastal plans in exceptional circumstances where it is in significant regional or national interest.

“Salmon farmed in New Zealand have been a tremendous success story, and we think New Zealand companies can achieve similar success with high-value fish like hapuku (groper) and kingfish,” Morgan says in a press release.

A recent market tasting of NIWA’s farmed hapuku with leading Australasian chefs confirmed it has the potential as a premium product in the global super- fine dining sector.

“One of the chefs said it was the best white-fleshed farmed fish he had tasted,” Morgan says.

NIWA has successfully produced commercial quantities of juvenile kingfish, and similar success with hapuku is not far off. Research now includes selective breeding, to ensure stock quality continues to improve, and understanding the requirements for optimal growth of the fish to market-size.

“Research & development of this nature is not a trivial exercise – it has taken 6 years of innovative work, but we now have the infrastructure, knowledge, and skill to support start-up ventures,” says Morgan, “so the future is very promising.”

This research and development has been funded by NIWA and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.


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