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NZ leads way in shellfish farming quality

NEW ZEALAND - As the Marlborough Sounds become busier, and people become more conscious of what they eat, it is vitally important to ensure the region's farmed shellfish are safe, says the woman ensuring they are.

CLEAN, GREEN MUSSELS: Mussel companies such as Aotearoa Seafoods can feel secure that their product is safe, says Marlborough shellfish quality programme executive officer Helen Smale.

Marlborough Shellfish Quality Programme executive officer Helen Smale says New Zealand is already leading the way in some technologies, but she would like to see ever better monitoring and more public awareness of the importance of keeping the country's waterways clean.

Next week Marlborough will host the Molluscan Shellfish Safety Conference, a biennial meeting where experts from all around the world meet to share research, management systems and experience.

More than 200 delegates from as far afield as Norway, France and Canada will gather in Blenheim for the conference, to be opened by Minister for Food Safety Annette King on Monday.

Mrs Smale said it had not been difficult to convince the researchers, industry and regulators to come to Marlborough, with many eager to see New Zealand.

With most delegates bringing along partners, the five day conference was a great opportunity for Marlborough to show off all its attributes, from pristine waterways to cellar doors, she said.

The Marlborough shellfish quality programme currently checks all its sites once a week, has telemetered rain gauges and river level metres, and spends nearly $1 million a year in Marlborough alone, ensuring the mussels and other shellfish farmed here are safe to eat.

The work they do now, and the future potential of research and development, meant farmed seafood was in fact one of the safest foods people could eat, Mrs Smale said.

Source: Marlborough Express