Aquaculture for all

Salmon Farm Expansion to Drive New Zealand's Seafood Industry Growth

Economics Politics +2 more

NEW ZEALAND - Aquaculture is expected to be the key driver for the forecast growth of New Zealand's seafood industry. It is expected to grow in the next couple of years through the planned expansion of salmon farming.

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Aquaculture export earnings are estimated to increase by 14.6 per cent to NZ$289 million in the year to June 2014. This is due to strong prices and a rebound in mussel and oyster production stemming from more favourable climatic conditions, states the Ministry for Primary Industries 2014 Situation and Outlook report.

Mussels, oysters and salmon are the three main species farmed in New Zealand with green-lipped mussels accounting for 69 per cent of export values in 2013.

Aquaculture export earnings are forecast to increase by 9.8 per cent per year over the outlook period to reach NZ$402 million in 2018. This growth will be underpinned by the planned salmon production increases by New Zealand King Salmon from 2016. The Supreme Court confirmed resource consent approval for New Zealand King Salmon’s three new farms in the Marlborough Sounds on 17 April 2014.

Aquaculture export volume is expected to bounce back after a decrease in 2013. Export volumes experienced a significant decrease (15 per cent) in year ended December 2013, due to a fall in mussel farming productivity related to La Niña climate conditions. Such conditions limit food supply in the water column. The situation has improved in the latter part of 2013. An improvement in green-lipped mussel production and export volumes in the coming years is expected, as further production extensions are planned. On top of this, green-lipped mussel prices have rebounded and shown an increasing trend over the past 12 months.

Salmon export earnings increased by 20 per cent in 2013 compared to the last year. Prices were slightly down in 2013 but have rebounded in recent months. Production growth is expected in 2016 when New Zealand King Salmon Limited’s three new farms come on line.

Oyster production is expected to grow at a modest pace while prices will remain stable. Oyster virus issues in Northland, causing the loss of up to 80 per cent of juvenile oysters on some farms in 2010, affected oyster harvests in 2011 and 2012. However, oyster production is starting to recover alongside a selective breeding programme with improved juvenile oyster survivability. In 2013, oyster production rebounded by 26 per cent, and is expected to increase further, albeit slowly. With increased global supply, oyster prices were slightly down in 2013.

There is scope to increase aquaculture production through development of new farms and new aquaculture species. Development of new farms will depend on the availability of suitable space and willingness to invest in new farms. Various research trials and innovation initiatives into the new aquaculture species are underway in collaboration between industry, research providers and the government.

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