Aquaculture spurs on NZ seafood export earnings

Published on
June 19, 2018
NZ mussels

New Zealand’s export earnings from seafood are rising with aquaculture leading the way, according to the country’s Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook report for June 2018 predicts New Zealand’s seafood export earnings will grow from NZD 1.8 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) to NZD 2.1 billion (USD 1.5 billion, EUR 1.3 billion) by June 2022.

“Aquaculture is set to be the main driver for the forecast growth, thanks largely to increased mussel harvests, and higher prices as demand continues to grow in key markets,” said Nash. “We expect hatchery-bred spat to be a boon for mussel production. We are already seeing better mussels as a result of hatchery spat produced through the SPATnz Primary Growth Partnership program."

“We are also seeing salmon production increasing with three new farms operating in the Marlborough Sounds," he added.

Aquaculture export earnings are forecast to reach NZD 430 million (USD 301.8 million, EUR 259 million) this year and reach nearly NZD 600 million (USD 421.1 million, EUR 361.4 million) in 2022. Export earnings for New Zealand’s wild capture fish products are expected to reach NZD 1.4 billion (USD 982.6 million, EUR 843.3 million) this year and climb to NZD 1.5 billion (USD 1.1 billion, EUR 903.7 million) in 2022.

Nash said the expectation is to see higher prices as a result of more people wanting to eat fish and reduced global supply due to China’s plans to reduce its catch.

“It is clear the environmental credibility of our seafood products will be a vital factor in our export success. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified many of our fisheries as sustainable," he said.  "Further certification of this kind will support export prices.”

Innovative approaches to harvesting will also play their role, Nash said. 

In this regard, Fisheries New Zealand this month approved the use of new trawl technology for commercial operations in some deepwater fisheries, called the Precision Seafood Harvesting Modular Harvest System (MHS).

MHS is the first new trawl technology to be approved under amendments to the commercial fishing regulations introduced last year. 

The regulations now provide opportunities to achieve better quality of catch, add value across the sector, and ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources, said Stuart Anderson, director of fisheries management at Fisheries New Zealand.

MHS’s performance was tested in trials over the last six years in deepwater and middle-depth fisheries. In approving the new trawls, Fisheries New Zealand was satisfied it performed at least as well as a traditional mesh trawl net in the hoki, hake, and ling fisheries.

Approval was also sought for alfonsino and silver warehou but this was not given at this stage.

An application for approval to use the MHS for inshore fisheries has also been lodged, which Fisheries New Zealand is now assessing.

Precision Seafood Harvesting is a NZD 48 million (USD 33.7 million, EUR 28.9 million), seven-year PGP program between MPI and industry partners Moana New Zealand, Sealord Group and Sanford Limited. It aims to assist fishing vessels to target specific species and sizes of fish, and to enable crews to bring the fish on board better condition.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

 Twitter at @SeafoodGuruSome

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