July 22, 2020


New Zealand's Golden Bay aquaculture sector sees threefold growth


The mussel industry in Golden Bay, New Zealand is expected to increase threefold and is tipped to require over 100 new employees in the next seven years, Stuff reported.


Aquaculture New Zealand technical director Dave Taylor said mussel production was set to triple over the next few years, requiring improvements at the Tasman District Council-owned Port Tarakohe.


"Tarakohe is essential to the growth of that area," he told councillors this month. "That area alone, within Golden Bay, requires Tarakohe to grow."


The council in 2019 lodged an application for just over NZD22 million of Government funds for a proposed NZD28.3 million redevelopment of Port Tarakohe. It is awaiting the outcome.


Taylor told councillors that aquaculture nationally, already a NZD600 million industry employing more than 3,000 people, had a promising future with a "light touch" on the environment.


Fuelled by increasing global demand for seafood, the sector globally surpassed wild fisheries in 2019, producing about 80 million tonnes, he said.


"The potential for growth is great, given that to feed our projected global population, in the next 40 years we need to produce as much seafood as we have in the last 8,000 years."


In recognition of that "bright future", the Government last year announced the development of an aquaculture strategy with the goal of increasing global sales of New Zealand products to NZD3 billion by 2035.


Greenshell mussels, Pacific oysters and king salmon were the "three champions" at the heart of the industry in New Zealand with production of high-quality artisan foods.


"For example, we produce less than 1% of the world's salmon but command the highest prices for our premium products," Taylor said.


The potential was great. Salmon farming was poised to use open-ocean environments, which "could see the industry more than treble in size over the next 10 years".


"Aquaculture is at the heart of our regional communities and, in many cases, we are the lifeblood of coastal towns," Taylor said, adding that Māori participation in the sector was significant.


While the industry was young compared with its "terrestrial counterparts, we are coming of age".


However, that growth came with some challenges.


"One of those is working with old and sometimes unsuitable infrastructure, like wharfs and roads," Taylor said. "As our industry looks to grow, we are looking to support improvement in essential infrastructure in our regions and Tasman [District] is no exception."


Finding staff was another challenge such as the 100 workers for Golden Bay and similar projections for other regions.


"We are, however, poised to take advantage of the new world we find ourselves in, and we are looking to train organisations to help people pivot into our industry," Taylor said.


Councillor Anne Turley said there was a shortage of accommodation for workers.


"The horticulture industry has looked at providing on-site housing for their workers," Turley told Taylor. "Will you do the same?"


Taylor said the industry was looking at trying to bring workers into the regions and finding accommodation was part of that plan.


"I know that in Twizel, for example, they are supplying accommodation for their workers in the salmon farms there," Taylor said. "I'm not sure entirely what the plan is for Golden Bay but I imagine that it will be part of the plan to provide suitable accommodation for workers there."

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