Growfish News Article - Niwa to study fish farming  - New Zealand - May 20, 2003


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new zealand - May 20, 2003
Niwa to study fish farming

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) has received a $1.5 million a year grant for six years to study how to farm new species of fish.

Niwa plans to spend the cash from the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology to study how to farm kingfish, groper, kina, lobsters and eels.

"This research will be done in collaboration with leading industry partners and developed into viable and profitable commercial culture," Niwa principal scientist Andrew Jeffs said in a statement.

Niwa expected the research to generate more than $10 million in new products each year, with about 80 per cent of that income coming from exports, Dr Jeffs said.

Focusing on five high value species was deliberately done to reduce reliance on New Zealand's three main farmed fish species greenshell mussels, chinook salmon and Pacific oysters.

"Aquaculture is New Zealand's fastest growing rural industry, but the overall value of our product is only about $1500 a tonne, whereas the value of the Australian aquaculture product is about $30,000 a tonne because they culture higher value species such as tuna and prawns," Dr Jeffs said.

He estimated finfish farming could generate up to 800 tonnes of fish per hectare.

"This would be worth about $10 million and would create more than 50 jobs."

Niwa's research facility at Bream Bay, near Whangarei, was already producing kingfish, mussels and oysters and would be the site of New Zealand's largest paua farm, Dr Jeffs said.

Kina research would be carried out at Mahanga Bay in Wellington, he said.

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