Severe storm causes millions in damage to mussel farms in New Zealand

Published on
August 13, 2021
Mussel farmers in New Zealand have suffered significant damages from a severe storm.

Mussel farms on New Zealand's South Island were recently hit by a severe storm that caused damages estimated in the millions of dollars.

Nelson, New Zealand-based MacLab ’s operation was impacted during the storm, with half of its 270-hectare farm damaged, according to Radio New ZealandMacLab General Manager of Aquaculture Scott Gillanders said the storm was the worst experienced by the company in its 15 years in operation.

“We are still in the fix-up phase of the operation but, to put it in perspective, we have around about 140 mussel lines on that particular farm in Tasman Bay and 76 of those lines suffered substantial damage,” Gillanders said. 

Mussel farms in Golden Bay, Marlborough Sounds, and Tasman Bay were also damaged, according to Marine Farming Association President Jonathan Large. He said the storm waves were bigger than what was experienced during Cyclone Gita.

“It was a one-off event really, I’ve never seen anything like it, just consistently big seas that went through Tasman Bay,” Large said.

Gillanders said the storm tangled up fences with the mussel crops still attached. Untangling the fences will be an additional cost for the farmers as they recover from the storm.

“The quantum is unknown in terms of the crop loss, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it runs into the millions, and then there is the time it takes. It takes a hell of a lot of time to pull these lines back into place and reset new anchors,” Gllanders said.

New Zealand produces a large volume of farmed mussels, and exports to a number countries including Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. In 2012, according to the FAO, New Zealand mussel farmers exported 34,000 metric tons of green-lipped mussels, worth a total of NZD 190 million (USD 134 million, EUR 114 million).  

Photo courtesy of MSVIVIENNE/Shutterstock

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500