Sustainable growth is theme of the conference. (Photo: www.aquaculture.org.nz)
Aquaculture industry focuses on sustainable growth
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
Aquaculture New Zealand Chief Executive Gary Hooper says a balance must be reached between the needs of bach and boat owners and of marine farmers to reach sustainable growth.
Sustainable growth is also the theme of the NZD 400 million (USD 328.9 million) aquaculture industry’s annual conference in Nelson this week.
"People need to better understand that water space is a common resource and the New Zealand Government has to work out how it best applies that resource for the benefit of the whole country," said Hooper. "There's a bunch of people in New Zealand who - if they've got a boat or a launch or a yacht - think it's their divine right to sail into any bay, anywhere in New Zealand, moor up and not have anything in their way.”
Hooper said he fully supports marine reserves and conservation – as long as it does not cut into the profits of aquaculture, The New Zealand Herald reportss.
"We're still a country that needs to grow its economy and aquaculture has this tremendous potential to contribute to that," he said. "Balance is key.”
"It's not just a lofty aspiration - it's an assessment that's had some economic rigour applied to it," Hooper continued.
Hooper said reaching the industry’s NZD 1 billion (USD 822.3 million) target by 2025 necessitates securing additional water space, higher productivity and exporting more value-added products.
In 2011, frozen greenshell mussels made up 97 per cent of shellfish exports, while smoked and crumbed/battered mussels accounted for only 0.05 per cent, according to statistics from Aquaculture New Zealand.
"Historically, some of the ways we've sold our product has been at the lower-value end - we haven't been chasing those higher premiums and niche channels and markets," said Hooper.
He said that high-value derivatives of farmed fish and shellfish, such as omega-3 supplements and ingredients used to complement other foods, constitute a growing part of the aquaculture industry.
"These are massive catagories overseas. We happen to be growing some of the best core ingredients that can feed into those markets," he commented.
Another growing aspect of the industry is expanding into new species other than the mussels, oysters and salmon commonly farmed in NZ.
For instance, Oceanz Blue is already raising paua in Northland and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) was conducting research into farming hapuku and kingfish, Hooper said.
Still, NZ should continue to focus on the products because of which it has developed a strong reputation.
New Zealand farmed salmon was recognised by international chefs as "the wagyu of salmon," Hooper noted.
Wagyu refers to several breeds of cattle known for yielding distinctively flavoured, fatty beef.
"Our salmon has that same taste difference," added Hooper.
New legislation in NZ seeks to promote investment and slash costs and uncertainty in the aquaculture sector.
By Natalia Real