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New Farm Meets Increased Demand For Salmon

News release
14 February 2008

New Farm Meets Increased Demand For Salmon

Healthy eating habits grow market for Omega-3 rich fish

Changing nutrition habits and consumers’ recognition of the health benefits of eating oily fish are the driving forces behind increased demand for salmon and the opening of a new farm in the Marlborough Sounds.

New Zealand King Salmon’s new $4 million seawater farm at Clay Point in Tory Channel north of Picton has today (Feb. 14, 2008) been opened by the Prime Minister.

The farm, the company’s fifth, has been developed in partnership with local Iwi Te Atiawa Manuwhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu Trust.

Holding grow-out salmon costing $12 million, it is expected to help raise the company’s production by 10 per cent during the next two years.

The new 1.15 ha farm, while providing 20 per cent more capacity, also enables NZ King Salmon to lower stock densities as it continues its programme of reducing its eco impact, chief executive Paul Steere says.

“While New Zealand consumption of salmon is up 20 per cent in the past year, the biggest factor in our growth strategy is to ensure we keep production as natural as possible.”

No chemicals, vaccines or antibiotics are used in the company’s production and NZ King Salmon’s advertising stresses the natural environment of the Marlborough Sounds where the fish are farmed.

Demand for salmon has been strong not only in New Zealand but also in export markets. Australians are eating 30 per cent more salmon today than a year ago while the company’s overseas sales climbed 10 per cent in value last year.

NZ King Salmon says the Clay Point site provides a unique salmon growing environment.

Sea temperatures are up to two degrees cooler in summer than those at farms elsewhere in the sounds, leading to better growth rates and healthier fish.

The fish are raised in sea cages and the cool Southland originating current running through the area also helps to reduce Clay Point’s environmental footprint, washing away salmon food and waste that would normally settle on the sea floor.

Clay Point also uses a mooring system adapted from that employed on wire bridges in North America. Operators can monitor mooring line tension so any unusual strain can be picked up before damage can occur.

Other new technology includes surface and underwater cameras that wirelessly transmit pictures of salmon feeding enabling the above-the-surface operator to gauge when the fish have had sufficient.

The Clay Point marine farm licence was originally issued in 1994 but was not exercised as in the interim NZ King Salmon wanted to grow its business by adding value to its products. The strategy ensures reliance on market pull rather than increasing production volume with a high risk product push strategy Mr Steere says.

“We simply couldn’t put ourselves in a position where we were at the mercy of global market prices,” Paul Steere says. “With consumption now increasing and a new emphasis on healthy eating, the time is right to invest in new facilities.”

NZ King Salmon’s partnership with Te Atiawa has enabled the Iwi to replace lost customary access in the Sounds with a sustainable resource for the future.

Te Atiawa management company director Jane du Feu says the Iwi looked at options “and NZ King Salmon was willing to explore those options with us”.

The opening of the Clay Point sea farm will create 32 new jobs and its production will generate $25 million every year in revenue at current selling prices. The farm will hold around 1.7million salmon in two year classes at peak holding.

NZ King Salmon produces the popular Regal Salmon brand as well as Seasmoke and Southern Ocean.


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