August 3, 2006
New Zealand's aquaculture industry urged to go for value and high-tech
Fresh from a fact-finding mission to Chile last week, Jim Anderton, New Zealand's Fisheries minister urged the aquaculture industry to gear itself towards the Japanese markets at an annual aquaculture conference.
He said that Chile, whose number one export market is Japan has a high-tech, high-value salmon industry and hinted that New Zealand's aquaculture industry could transform the country's ecnonomic base if it follows suit.
While it seems to be the popular view that primary industries are in decline, in New Zealand it is just the opposite, Anderton said, stressing the fact that productivity in the industry has doubled in the last 15 years.
The aquaculture and seafood industries have grown 54 percent from 1997 to 2002 and seafood exports earned the country US$1.2 billion last year.
The optimistic outlook was so prevalent in the heady rush to build the aquaculture and fisheries industry that the government had to step in to regulate the market to ensure its long-term viability, Anderton said.
Saying that New Zealand has, for far too long, relied on commodity exports without harnessing its talents in science and innovation, Anderton urged the industry to walk in step with the government to add value to New Zealand's aquaculture exports.
In fact, aquaculture has been made a priority of the government. At the same time, the government would make clear its wish to maximise the legitimate use of its aquaculture resources in a sustainable way, Anderton said.
Anderton added that the statement would need to be coordinated by local councils who would be implementing the policy, he said.