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Research Adds Value To Seafood Industry Exports

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

8 JULY 1999

Food and Fibre Minister Hon John Luxton today applauded the innovation and enterprise of Crop & Food Research seafood scientists, while touring their Seafood Research Unit in Nelson.

"As we embrace the new millennium, it's more evident that tomorrow's market is in new products and new ideas. For a food producing nation, the key to the future lies with industry investing in research and technology. Our ability to develop world beating products is what will stand our primary industries in good stead in the knowledge economy of the future."

"It's exciting to see the application of innovative research contributing to increased export earnings in the New Zealand seafood industry, while maintaining sustainability".

"Cutting edge research is not only vital to the seafood industry, it is essential to the whole economy. In the Nelson region the local scallop industry alone employs 200 people in the processing area and approximately 180 crew on the 60 scallop vessels. One thousand full-time equivalent jobs are provided by the Nelson-Marlborough mussel industry."

"Our natural resources are limited. It is therefore vital that the seafood industry together with Crop & Food Research continue on the successful path of innovation" Mr Luxton concluded.

RESEARCH WITHIN THE SEAFOOD INDUSTRY

Hoki

New Zealand's hoki business is now a $300 million annual earner. Research led by Crop & Food Research, Nelson, and funded through the Public Good Science Fund, has identified that rapid and complete chilling immediately after harvest, is essential for producing high quality hoki. As a result hoki processors have installed rapid chilling systems on-board their vessels and are already reaping the benefits. Hoki has turned from a low quality fish into a premium quality product

Cockles

A new patented cockle freezing process which stops cockle shells cracking, and stabilises their enzymes has been developed. The freezing process maintains the quality of cockles for restaurant markets, primarily in the United States.

The research funded jointly by Westhaven Marketing and Technology New Zealand, increased Westhaven Marketing's cockle exports by 23% to $2.1 million last year. The unique cockle freezing technology is also proving attractive to French and United Kingdom cockle buyers with plans to begin exports there next year.

Salmon

A new product has been developed that improves the succulent fresh taste of salmon. AQUI-S is a natural product that allows fish to be sedated before handling and harvest while minimising stress and exhaustion. It has been developed by Crop & Food Research, again with assistance from the Government's Public Good Science Fund.

AQUI-S Ltd is the joint venture company already trading in New Zealand and Australia. It is seeking regulatory approval for AQUI-S sales in several countries where salmon farming is a major industry.

The New Zealand salmon industry has grown significantly in the last 10 years. In 1989 it produced 2,000 tonnes and this year it will produce approximately 7,500 tonnes. Of this industry exports 70 % at a value of $40 million.

Scallops

Research with funding support from the FoRST, is currently assessing ways of improving scallop spat survival rates. Already significant improvements have been made to the seeding process. It is estimated that an extra 1% of surviving spat would yield an additional 100 tonnes of scallop meat each year.

About 2400 tonnes meatweight of seeded scallops have been recovered by commercial fishers over the last six years at an export value of more than $50 million.

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