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Fish Anaesthetic Set For Export Boom

A revolutionary anaesthetic used to relax fish before harvesting could bring a small Lower Hutt company a wealth of overseas orders. AQUI-S NZ Ltd has had success in New Zealand and Australia with its AQUI-S anaesthetic, and is now hoping to crack lucrative overseas markets.

"With good, solid information on the product's effectiveness and its effect on the environment, we're hoping to secure some of the big markets overseas," AQUI-S managing director Don Bell says.

"We need the data to establish the efficacy and safety of the product, and then it's a matter of convincing the market that the product will do what we say it will do." Technology New Zealand - the Government agency that helps businesses develop new products, processes and services - helped AQUI-S develop the anaesthetic with dollar-for-dollar financial investment. "The contribution of Technology New Zealand has been enormous for us," Dr Bell says.

"We could not have completed the research without them." AQUI-S is the only product in the world registered for use as an anaesthetic for fish harvesting.

It has no withholding period before the fish can be eaten because of its low toxicity.

It is used in the New Zealand salmon industry, and by Australian fish exporters who sell live fish, mainly to Asian markets. Dr Bell says the quality of fish products deteriorates if the fish are stressed when killed.

Trout, for example, can retain blood in the flesh if the fish is not relaxed when it is "bled" during killing. "In general, there are fewer gaps in the flesh of 'rested' fish, which have firmer flesh, better appearance and improved shelf life." Overseas, fish are stunned with cold water, or with CO2.

However, these methods are not always effective, and traditional anaesthetics are more toxic, posing a health risk for consumers. "AQUI-S is also a humane method of killing," Dr Bell says. The market for the product overseas - particularly in the big fish-producing countries of Norway, Chile, Britain and Canada - is huge.

"New Zealand produces about 6000 tonnes of salmon a year," Dr Bell says. "Norway produces 300,000 tonnes - that's an indication of the size of the potential market. -ends-

Caption: Don Bell of AQUI-S with a New Zealand salmon - "huge" overseas market for the company's fish anaesthetic.

Contact: * Dr Don Bell, AQUI-S NZ Ltd, Lower Hutt.

Ph: (04) 569-3852.

Email: fishtrans@compuserve.com. * Philip Mowles, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, Ph: (04) 498-7845 or 025 815-426.

Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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