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Government pledges up to $6 million for New Zealand mussel hatchery

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
25 March 2022, at 9:30am

The government of New Zealand has announced plans to invest in a mussel spat hatchery in the Bay of Plenty.

mussel floats in a wooded bay
New Zealand's green-lipped mussel farming sector largely relies on wild spat at the moment

Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui will receive investment from the new Regional Strategic Partnership Fund (RSPF) so it can develop a hatchery and research hub near Te Kaha. Accelerating the aquaculture industry has been identified as one of the priorities for economic growth in the Bay of Plenty.

“Having a reliable source of quality hatchery spat is an important step in helping the nation’s aquaculture industry be more resilient, improving its supply chain and securing its long-term sustainability,” said Economic and Regional Development Minister, Stuart Nash, in a press release.

“The new hatchery will significantly decrease New Zealand’s reliance on mussel spat – or larvae – sourced from the wild. This wild-sourced spat is unreliable in terms of quantity and quality compared to spat bred in a hatchery,” he added.

“Despite this clear quality difference, more than 80 percent of the industry currently relies on spat caught in the wild, and it cannot guarantee sufficient supply for existing mussel farms now, let alone into the future.”

Nash also said that developing the hatchery is important in empowering Māori to help grow aquaculture in Aotearoa and improve Māori prosperity.

“Aquaculture is a regional priority for Bay of Plenty, and this investment will stimulate the local and Māori economies, unlocking the region’s comparative advantage in aquaculture,” he noted.

Nash said that the investment is also a sign of the Government’s commitment to building a robust nationwide aquaculture industry and will help unlock broader government and industry funding.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has estimated up to five new hatcheries are needed to achieve the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy goal of $3 billion in annual sales by 2035.

“The Aquaculture Strategy aims to enhance New Zealand as a world-leader in sustainable and innovative aquaculture management. This investment will contribute greatly to our long-term vision and is being supported across a wide range of government departments.”

Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit will initially invest $500,000 as equity, with up to $6 million to be subsequently released, alongside investment from iwi, hapu and other investors.