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Student Helps Boost Paua Prospects

Paua lovers will soon benefit from research that is helping Abalone New Zealand Ltd grow greater numbers of better-quality shellfish. The Southland firm has increased densities of paua larvae and boosted post-larval survival rates with the help of Otago University marine science graduate Andy Elliot. Mr Elliot applied for a research position with the company through the Technology for Industry Fellowship scheme.

Abalone NZ director Allan Arnold says his company had a lot of money committed to set-up costs on its Stewart Island site “and we couldn’t afford to pay someone to do research and development for us”.

He sought the help of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, who funded Mr Elliot’s research. The Technology for Industry Fellowship scheme encourages students to use their scientific research skills in business and helps develop links between industry and research institutions.

“It was an opportunity to use my qualifications and work within the aquaculture industry at a commercial level,” Mr Elliot says.

The project looked at improving the productivity of existing systems within the business. It also helped to develop and integrate a new tank system for on-growing paua up to 60mm in size.

“Millions of larvae go into the settlement tanks,” Mr Arnold says. “But usually only about 7000-10,000 survive. As a result of the research, we’ve found that by increasing the water flow within the tank through the use of pumps, our survival rate can get up to 50,000.”

The company can now produce more paua by using existing tanks and has reduced many of the labour and maintenance costs of the previous set-up.

Abalone NZ is also using a new “surfboard” style tank, a concept being investigated by others within the industry.

“We had a lot of difficulties at the beginning – anything involving livestock requires gradual change,” Mr Elliot says. “It was a lot of trial and error and on a commercial scale, mistakes can be very costly. The system is working well now, and as a result we are getting good growth rates, but you’re always looking at ways to improve efficiencies and make things easier.”

Abalone NZ is aiming for an annual production of two million paua.


Contact: · Allan Arnold, Abalone New Zealand Ltd. Ph: (03) 213-0500. Fax: (03) 213-1011.
Email: ·
Andy Elliot, Ph: (03) 219-1226. Email: ·
Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand (Christchurch Office) at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (03) 377-9340.

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

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