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Wakatu seafood arm eyes Australia venture

NEW ZEALAND - Nelson's Wakatu Incorporation is not ruling out becoming involved in aquaculture in Australia, because New Zealand's industry is "gridlocked", its chief executive says.

Keith Palmer is going to Australia next week to look at aquaculture, in particular finfish farming.

"I'm going with a perfectly open mind," he said.

"We want to look at it and see what is happening and what is working, but also to explore their relationship with government and "bureaucracy", and what the difference is (compared with New Zealand)."

Wakatu Incorporation, a privately owned company, owns Aotearoa Seafoods, which processes about 10,000 tonnes of mussels a year.

Mr Palmer said the Australian aquaculture industry was booming but New Zealand's sector was "gridlocked" by a "bureaucratic system" and with no new aquaculture management areas created since aquaculture reforms came into effect in January 2005.

Mr Palmer said Wakatu was not ruling out also getting involved in aquaculture in Australia because of the progress there.

Wakatu wants to establish a 770ha mussel farm west of d'Urville Island, but its application for a permit was turned down by the Ministry of Fisheries last month.

Source: The Nelson Mail