Aquaculture in New Zealand

Aquaculture started to take off in New Zealand in the 1980s. It is dominated by mussels , oysters and salmon . [2] In 2007, aquaculture generated about NZ $ 360 million in sales on an area of ​​7,700 hectares. $ 240 million was earned in exports. [3] [4]

In 2006, the aquaculture industry in New Zealand developed a NZ dollar business by 2025. [5] In 2007, the government reacted by offering more support to the growing industry. [2]


Aquaculture is the general term given to the cultivation of any fresh or salt water plant or animal. It takes place in New Zealand in coastal marine areas ( mariculture ) and in inland tanks or enclosures.

Aquaculture in New Zealand currently (2008) occupied 14,188 ha. Of this area, 7,713 ha is in established growing areas and is owned by the aquaculture industry, 4,010 ha is used to enhance the wild scallop fishery and belongs to the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company, [6] and 2,465 ha is an exposed six kilometer site offshore from Napier where trials are being undertaken by a private company to test the site’s economic viability. [4]

In 2005 the aquaculture industry provided direct employment for 2,500 full-time equivalents, mostly in the processing sector. A similar amount of indirect employment results from flow-on effects. The aquaculture industry is important for some coastal areas around New Zealand where there is limited employment. This Applies to PARTICULARLY Some Māori communities with traditional links to coastal settlements. [2]

Marine aquaculture, mariculture , occurs in the sea, generally in sheltered bays along the coast. In New Zealand, about 70 percent of marine aquaculture occurs in the South Island. In the North Island, the Firth of Thames is productive.

Cultured species

There are three species in the New Zealand aquaculture industry: the green-lipped mussel , the Pacific oyster and king salmon . In 2006 these three species generated $ 357 million in sales. Mussel accounted for 63 percent of this value. Pacific oysters 9 percent and king salmon 28 percent.

Value of farmed species in 2006 (NZ $ million) [4]
Common name Scientific name Domestic Export Total
Green lipped mussel Perna canaliculus 43 181 224
Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas 14 18 32
King salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha 59 42 101
Totals 116 241 357
Locality of farmed species, 2005
Species Farms
Locality [2] [8]
Green lipped mussel 550 [9] 4500[9] Particularly the top of the South Island, Pelorus Sounds , Tasman and Golden bays ; But also the Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel , with a small number around Peninsula Banks and Stewart Island .
Pacific oyster 236 [8] 928 [8] North Coast of the North Island: Coromandel, Bay of Islands and the Whangaroa , Mahurangi and Kaipara Harbors .
King salmon 29 [8] 128 [8] 7,400 Mostly Marlborough Sounds and around Stewart Island, but also in the Mackenzie Basin .

Over two-thirds of New Zealand’s aquaculture product comes from mussels and oysters. These shellfish are cultivated in two distinct stages; first spat needs to be collected, then the spat is grown in a grow-out facility.

  • Spat , also called seed , is the free-swimming larval stage of a shellfish. Spat is cultured in hatcheries , and can be grown in tanks on land. Hatcheries may also be associated with research facilities where they are selectively bred to specifications, as broodstock .
  • grow-out facility is the place where the market is located, usually in paddocks anchored in coastal waters.


Until the early 1960s, mussels were harvested by hand from intertidal rocks. Dredging was then introduced, and within a few years the mussel beds in Tasman Bay and the Hauraki Gulf were dredged clean. [10] In the late 1960s, following this collapse, the aquaculture of the New Zealand mussel began. The endemic green lipped mussel was used to growing mussel spat (young mussels) on ropes suspended from rafts. The Hauraki Gulf and the Marlborough Sounds provided sheltered environments, with clean water rich in plankton. The cultured mussels were ready for harvest after 12 to 18 months, and first went on sale in 1971. [10]

More growers entered the industry. The labor-intensive raft method was replaced by a Japanese longline system. Biodegradable stockings are packed with spat and tied to parallel rows of looped ropes, supported by buoys . Young mussels grow through the stockings, anchoring themselves to the ropes with their strong byssal threads (beards). [10] The farms are usually located in a remote area where the sea is less important. Several miles offshore, such as offshore farms from Napier and Opotiki . [8]

Initially the ropes were allowed to reseed naturally, after harvest, from the spat already present in coastal waters. However, this method was unreliable. In 1974 a marine scientist discovered mussel spat encrusted on drift kelp on Ninety Mile Beach . Locals collected the seaweed and air transported it to mussel farmers. Kaitaia spat, as it became known, is now the prime source of seed mussels. [10] There are some experimental hatcheries. [2]

Improved techniques, and bulk handling methods have been introduced. [2] By 2006 there were over 900 mussel farms in New Zealand covering about 6500 hectares, and worth about $ 224 million in annual sales. About $ 180 million was exported to the United States, with the trade name NZ Greenshell Mussels. [4]


There are two types of wild oysters in New Zealand. Bluff oysters and rock oysters . Both have been commercially harvested since the mid-19th century. Bluff oysters have never been grown, but various attempts have been made to grow the rock oyster.

Rock oysters are found naturally in the intertidal zone in the north of the North Island, and were subject to early cultivation experiments. During the 1960s, commercial farmers grew up in the North American suburbs of North Island. [11]

Then in 1970 another oyster started outgrowing the native rock oyster. This newcomer was the Pacific oyster , which had been introduced into New Zealand waters in the 1950s from a Japanese vessel or their ballast water. [11] [12] At first, farmers tried to remove it from their collecting sticks, but year by year Pacific oyster spat increased, out-competing the native rock oyster. [11]

Eventually commercial growers began to cultivate the Pacific oyster, and by the mid-1970s, it had become the main farm-raised oyster. [12] Pacific oysters have grown-up markets, grow in size and size, and are more likely to grow. [11] [13]

In 1977 Pacific oysters appeared in the Marlborough Sounds , and farming began there in the 1990s. Method of cultivating oysters on racks, Marlborough farmers using longlines, a system developed in Australia. [11]

By 2006 there were over 230 oyster farms in New Zealand using over 900 acres, and worth about $ 32 million in annual sales. About $ 18 million were exports.

Hatchery reared seed is not suitable for the rack systems which are still used by the industry. Pacific oysters on these racks are most popular in the Kaipara Harbor . However, other systems are being used, including hanging longlines and plastic trays. [2] The Cawthron Institute is the main provider of hatchery spat, and can selectively breed spat to specifications. [14]


Around 1900, different salmon were introduced as sport fish . Only the king salmon (Chinook) adapted to the environment. [12] For decades, the development of salmon and trout aquaculture in New Zealand was one of the reasons why fish caught fish and caught fish. In 1973 the government compromised by making illegal trout farms, but salmon farms legal. [15] New Zealand is probably farming in the world, but it is illegal. [2]

In 1976, the first salmon farm was established at Pupu Springs , Tasman . Salmon were raised in fresh water, growing to 25 centimeters over two years. The venture was originally aimed at ocean ranching, where juvenile salmon would be released into the sea with the expectation that some would return as adults. But few did return, so the Pupu Springs facility was converted to a hatchery , supplying stock to sea farms. [15]

In 1983, the first sea-cage salmon farm was established in Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island . It was followed by Marlborough Sounds at Akaroa Harbor on Banks Peninsula . These areas accounted for over 90 percent of the 8.500 tonnes of salmon produced in 2001. [15]

Today, New Zealand accounts for over half of the world production of king salmon (7,400 tons in 2005). [8]

Farming in the sea ( mariculture ) for king salmon is Sometimes called Expired sea-cage ranching. Sea-cage ranching takes place in wide open water net cages, about 25 meters across and 15 meters deep, moored to the sea floor in clean, fast-flowing coastal waters. Smolt (young fish) from freshwater hatcheries are transferred to cages containing several thousand salmon, and remain there for the rest of their life. They are fed fishmeal pellets high in protein and oil. [8] Most of this fishmeal is imported from Australia. [2] The salmon are harvested when they are about two years old, weighing 2.5 to 4 kilograms. Sea cages are located in the Marlborough Sounds , Akaroa Harborand Stewart Island . [8] [16]

Farming in freshwater for king salmon uses net cages placed in rivers, using techniques similar to those used for sea-farmed salmon. Freshwater raceways are located in several Canterbury rivers such as the Clutha and Waimakariri Rivers . [8] In the 1990s, a unique form of freshwater salmon farming was developed in the Mackenzie Basin . Young salmon are enclosed in the Ohau and Tekapo canals. The Tekapo site, fed by fast cold waters from the Southern Alps , is the highest salmon farm in the world, 677 meters above sea level. [15]

Before they are killed, salmon cage are anesthetized with a herbal extract. They are then spiked in the brain . The heart beats for a time when the animal is sliced ​​gills. Relaxing the salmon like this when it is killed by firm, long-keeping flesh. [8] Lack of disease in wild populations and low stocking densities used in the cages that New Zealand salmon farmers do not use antibiotics and chemicals that are often needed elsewhere. [4]

The New Zealand industry has grown to be the largest producer of salmon in the world, accounting for half of world production. [8] The New Zealand King Salmon Company , dominates the production of king salmon in New Zealand. The company has its own selective breeding programs integrated with quality control and production. Other salmon producers rely on hatcheries where selective breeding is less well developed. [2]

Other species

  • The culture of ornamental cold water species, such as goldfish, is valued at about $ 18 million. [2]
  • A small-scale freshwater prawn farm was established in 1991 at Wairakei , near Taupo , producing tropical giant river prawns . Heat from a geothermal source is used to heat water in prawn-rearing ponds (see geothermal energy and aquaculture ). [17]

Other species which have potential, but are currently small-scale or are still under investigation or pre-commercial stages, are discussed under Prospects below.

Scallop enhancement

Enhancement is the name given to the techniques of the sea or the sea. In New Zealand, scallop enhancement has been working in Tasman Bay and Golden Bay . [11]

The New Zealand scallop is a large fan-shaped shellfish, flat on one side and convex on the other. It lives on the bottom of coastal waters, 30 meters or more deep. [11] Scallop spat-collecting bags are suspended during summer in coastal areas with high natural scallop settlement. The scallop larvae settle out of the plankton onto the fine feathery surface of the plastic mesh bags. The larvae are known to grow at a convenient size and are known to be at a low density. There, they are later harvested on a rotational basis by dredges . This technique has resulted in an increase in annual stabilization. The TasmanScallop fishery, near collapse in the 1980s, was re-seeded to a level where 747 tons were harvested in 2004. [2] [11]

Legislation and administration

Marine farmers usually look for sheltered and unpolluted waters rich in nutrients. These topics are also desirable for other purposes. In the late 1990s, growing demand for coastal growing space, increasing fivefold. [18] Aquaculture consents developed haphazardly, with regional councils. By 2001, some councils were inundated with marine farm applications, and were operating with inadequate guidelines for sustainably managing the coast. [19] As the Ministry for the EnvironmentPut it: “Attempts to minimize local cumulative gold environmental impacts in marine bottlenecks, delays and high costs in processing applications for new marine farms, local moratoria, submitting fatigue and poor environmental outcomes, marine farmers, local communities, and the government wanted change. ” [18]

In 2002, the government stopped issuing consents for more marine farms while they reformed the legislation. The consents had operated under the oversight of both the Ministry of Fisheries and the regional councils. The reforms aims at streamline these applications for both freshwater and marine farms. Industry farmers objected to the moratorium, on the grounds that delaying expansion and diversification could not be in the interest of the industry. Māori groups, they have been particularly affected since they are the main applicants for coastal farms. [19]

This took three years, and in early 2005, Parliament passed the Aquaculture Reform Act 2004, which introduced the new legislation. The Aquaculture Claims Act 2004 and the Aquaculture Reform Act (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004. [20] The Legislation and Administration of Aquaculture in New Zealand is a complex for such a small industry. A more comprehensive overview can be found here .

Aquaculture is administered in New Zealand through labyrinth bureaucracies, with consequent diluted responsibilities. No single ministerial portfolio or government agency is responsible. As an example, in 2007 the government released a strategy on aquaculture. This strategy was endorsed by six government ministers with the following portfolios: fisheries, environment, conservation, local government, Māori Affairs, industry and regional development. Further, there have been five government departments directly involved in the preparation of the strategy. As another example, the access to marine and freshwater aquaculture sites are under the control of other countries. [2]

Despite many further consultations and incentives, no new aquaculture has been created. This coincided with a change in government at the end of 2008, which is being overhauled. [21] [22]

Training and research

In recent years, skill levels in the New Zealand aquaculture industry have been improved. This is largely a Seafood Industry Training Organization (SITO), an integral part of the seafood industry. SITO have developed tailored aquaculture training programs based on their experience. They now offer nationally recognized training programs based on the needs of companies involved in aquaculture. [2]

At the tertiary level, the Auckland University of Technology offers an undergraduate degree in aquaculture. Other services include the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic , the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology , and the Mahurangi Technical Institute . [2]

Government funding for aquaculture research is about two percent of the annual sales of the industry. These funds are mostly delivered through a competitive bidding process, organized and controlled by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology . [2]

  • The principal aquaculture research group is the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). NIWA is structured as a profit-making private company, although it is owned by the government. It operates three aquaculture research facilities; Bream Bay Aquaculture Park , Mahanga Bay Aquaculture Research Facility and Silverstream Hatchery . The Bream Bay Aquaculture Park includes other private aquaculture companies organized as an industrial-technology park. NIWA produces yellowtail kingfish spat, abalone seed and salmon smolts, which it sells to on-growers. [2]
  • The Cawthron Institute is a non-profit organization that does regional research around Nelson . It operates a nearby saltwater research facility called the Cawthron Aquaculture Park . [2]
  • The tertiary education sector undertakes a small amount of aquaculture research. [2] In 2007 an aquaculture center was opened at the Mahurangi Technical Institute in Warkworth . Scientists at the institute are interested in short-term goals within two years with a goal of producing commercial quantities of captivity, which would be a world first. [4]

Role of Māori

In pre-European times, the indigenous Māori of New Zealand undertakes to facilitate the development of such activities, as it is appropriate for the intertidal settlement of oyster larvae. [23] They were also thought to have transplanted abalone and other shellfish between different areas. [24]

Māori currently has a significant presence in the New Zealand aquaculture industry, and this is likely to increase to the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 are met. HOWEVER, rentals Inappropriate aquaculture and unsustainable practices-have the potential to compromise gains and significant resources to coastal whanau , hapu and iwi . [25]

In 2008, a settlement of $ 97 million was made to Māori for Crown bonds for aquaculture space that was approved between 1992 and 2004. [26]

NIWA operates at Māori Research and Development Unit, Te Kūwaha o Taihoro Nukurangi . The unit has a team of Māori scientists who undertake research and provide consultancy services, based on iwi with environmental and commercial issues.


In 2006, the New Zealand aquaculture industry published The New Zealand Aquaculture Strategy , NZ dollars by 2025. The strategy sets out to increase the number of new fishers. The New Zealand Aquaculture Council has introduced a report on aquaculture producers. [2]

In 2007, the New Zealand government responded to this issue by releasing an aquaculture development strategy highlighting existing actions and proposing new initiatives. In addition, the government has offered additional funding with five key objectives, with the main focus on improving the implementation of the new 2004 regulations. [2] At the end of 2008, it is a change in government, which announced that aquaculture will be overhauled, but reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the industry. [21]

Paua shells. Pāua is a native form of abalone , and has potential as a high-value species. Many efforts have been made to cultivate pāua, but so far

The New Zealand industry is currently growing on low-value filter-feeding shellfish (mussels and oysters) which are fast growing and relatively easy to grow. There is potential for the industry to diversify into higher value species such as pāua , kingfish and crayfish . These species need special food and are more expensive to farm, but they order higher prices. [19]

  • The native blackfoot pāua , Haliotis iris , is a form of abalone . They are wide sea snails that survive strong tidal by clinging to rocks using their large muscular foot. Wild pāua has been harvested since 1944, usually by skindivers ,. Pāua aquaculture started in 1980, but has been slow moving beyond development. They are difficult to grow, and grow more slowly than salmon, mussels or oysters. Their larva and juveniles need to be grown separately. [27] Most pāua farmers get juveniles from hatcheries, and feed them fresh kelp in land-based tanks. In Akaroa Harbor , one farmer grows on plastic barrels tethered to buoys. In 2002, farmers produced five tons of meat, worth $ 400,000. [27]
  • Another New Zealand pioneer farmer cultivates blue pearls by placing some of the flesh of the shell and its shell, where it acts as an irritant. The paua Responds by coating the grit with nacre (mother-of-pearl). This develops as a blue pearl. [27]
  • For the sake of growing seaweed , Gigartina atropurpurea , in New Zealand. Seaweed spores are grown on three meters at NIWA ‘s Mahanga Bay aquaculture research facility, and are then transferred to a mussel farm in the Marlborough Sounds. If successful, a new seaweed growing industry could spread to the mussel farms in the Marlborough Sounds. [28]
  • Bluff oysters are harvested from the wild in Foveaux Strait . However, they are more easily in Northland , and NIWA is examining their aquaculture possibilities. [29]
  • Shortfin and longfin have been trialled by NIWA. Established worldwide markets are worth over US $ 1 trillion, and a decline in some stocks has opened up opportunities for New Zealand. [30]
  • The big-bellied seahorse is a native seahorse. Seahorses are valued aquarium fish. They are also used medicinally, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. Wild seahorses have been over-harvested worldwide, opening markets to their aquaculture. [31]
  • In New Zealand sea ​​sponge , Mycale hentscheli , which grows in Pelorus Sound , may hold the key to an anti-cancer drug. Scientists are working to see how peloruside, a substance produced by the sponges, might be used as a cancer-fighting drug. Victoria University and NIWA are working with Marlborough marine farmers to develop a method for growing up on an existing mussel farm. [4] [32]

Other prospects which are being researched or trialled include

  • European perch
  • grass carp
  • hāpuku , a native wreckfish
  • yellowtail kingfish , a native kingfish [30]
  • sea ​​cucumber
  • kina , a native sea ​​urchin
  • rock lobster [33]
  • koura , a native freshwater crayfish
  • Spongia manipulatus , a native bath sponge
  • giant kelp


  • Pre-European: The indigenous Māori undertake rudimentary aquaculture activities, such as placing suitable rocks in the intertidal settlement areas of oyster larvae. [23] They are also thought to have transplanted abalone and other shellfish between different areas. [24]
  • Early 20th century: Salmon species are introduced to New Zealand as a sport fish , but only the Chinook, or king salmon adapted to the environment.
  • 1950s: the Pacific oyster is introduced, possibly from a Japanese vessel hull or in their ballast water. [11] [12]
  • Early 1960s: Dredge fisheries start operating in the South Island and around the Hauraki Gulf . Within a few years they dredge these areas bare.
  • Late 1960s: As a response to the collapse of the dredge fisheries, the aquaculture of New Zealand mussels begins.
  • 1970s: Farming of king salmon begins.
  • Late 1990s: The aquaculture industry goes through a boom period, and demand for coastal space increases. [18]
  • 2002: The government, in some disarray, imposes a moratorium on new marine farms while they attempt to develop better legislation for the environment and the environment.
  • 2005: Aquaculture Reform Act, 2004, Amending Five Existing Actors, and Creating Two New Acts. [20] However, the reform fails to streamline applications, and no further allocation of aquaculture space occurs over the next four years. [22]
  • 2006: The New Zealand aquaculture industry publishes The New Zealand Aquaculture Strategy , [34] NZ dollars by 2025.
  • 2007: The New Zealand government responds to the industry by releasing an aquaculture development strategy highlighting existing actions and proposing new initiatives including funding incentives.
  • 2008: A settlement of $ 97 million is made to Māori for Crown bonds for aquaculture space that was approved between 1992 and 2004. [26]
  • 2008: The government changes and announces that the aquaculture reforms will be overhauled. It reaffirms the government’s commitment to the billion dollar target industry. [21]

See also

  • Fishing industry in New Zealand
  • Agriculture in New Zealand


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