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New investment a positive sign for oyster industry

media release

14 February 2013

New investment a positive sign for New Zealand oyster industry

One of New Zealand’s largest seafood companies will soon become the newest addition to the Cawthron Aquaculture Park.

Cawthron Institute and Aotearoa Fisheries Limited (AFL) have signed an agreement which will see AFL take over and expand Cawthron Institute’s commercial oyster nursery and spat growing operation at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park at Glenduan, north of Nelson. Cawthron Institute will continue to produce and supply oyster larvae to industry.

“Cawthron Institute has developed a scientific selective breeding programme for oysters over the last ten years,” Cawthron Institute Chairman Ian Kearney says. “Three years ago we established the outdoor nursery to grow and supply increased volumes of selectively bred spat to the industry.”

“It is now appropriate to allow our industry partners to take over this expanding spat production activity and for Cawthron Institute to focus its expertise on scientific research for the aquaculture industry.”

The new agreement means that from March this year, both New Zealand’s largest Pacific oyster (AFL) and Greenshell mussel (SPATnz) hatchery operations will be based at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park.

"SPATnz have been based at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park since 2010,” Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Charles Eason says. “Bringing in AFL alongside their operations supports our vision for the Cawthron Aquaculture Park as a centre of excellence for aquaculture, and a place where scientific research and development underpins industry for the benefit of our economy.”

AFL owns New Zealand’s largest oyster export companies, Pacific Marine Farms and Kia Ora Seafoods, which specialises in the export of Pacific oysters that are grown at 11 harbours which stretch from Parengarenga Harbour in the far north to the Marlborough Sounds.

AFL aquaculture general manager Don Collier says AFL have plans to significantly expand the existing facility. It has already employed additional staff to work at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park.

“Cawthron Institute is a world leader in aquaculture research, and we are excited to be strengthening our longstanding partnership with them to support the future development of New Zealand’s oyster industry,” Mr Collier says.

Professor Eason says it is an exciting initiative for AFL, Cawthron Institute, the oyster industry and the Top of the South region.

“We established the country’s first commercial oyster spat hatchery as an extension of our research into selective breeding of shellfish and to support the development of the New Zealand oyster industry,” Professor Eason says.

“Now we are passing this part of the process on, we can intensify our focus on selective breeding to enhance desirable traits in oysters such as taste, texture, appearance and survival – all of which help underpin production and support the industry.”


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