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New Zealand set for major mussel aquaculture expansion

14 June 2020, at 3:00am

The New Zealand government has announced a $19.95 million infrastructure investment that will allow a 20,000 tonne increase in the country’s mussel farming capacity.

The funding should help New Zealand's mussel sector reach 42,000 tonnes a year - up from its current level of 25,000 tonnes
The funding should help New Zealand's mussel sector reach 42,000 tonnes a year - up from its current level of 25,000 tonnes

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced the investment, which comes from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), and will expand Sugarloaf Wharf, which handles 90 percent of the North Island’s mussel production.

“The aquaculture sector in Thames-Coromandel contributes $70 million to the district’s GDP and is responsible for 350 jobs,” said Peters.

“But the sector has long been significantly constrained by a lack of capacity at Sugarloaf Wharf.”

The PGF funding will build an extended, raised wharf platform to account for rising sea levels, with four new berths to allow for increased commercial activity and a separate facility for launching recreational boats.

“The new wharf, Te Ariki Tahi Sugarloaf, will accommodate up to 42,000 tonnes of mussels a year, to meet increased demand from recently granted consents that have extended mussel farming space in the Hauraki Gulf by 775 hectares,” said Peters.

“It’s essential we continue to invest in infrastructure, job creation and sectors which will do the heavy lifting as regions recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19,” he continued.

“Construction will generate around 25 new jobs. Long-term, the new wharf will enable an estimated 170 new jobs in the marine farming sector, whilst supporting the employment of over 800 people in the North Island’s aquaculture industry,” he added.

Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash said the investment is closely aligned with the Government’s strategy to grow the aquaculture industry to $3 billion by 2035.

“An upgraded wharf at Sugarloaf is critical infrastructure that will enable aquaculture growth and help realise meaningful jobs, wellbeing and prosperity for the people of the region,” said Nash.