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Kina Lap Up ''NIWA’s Secret Recipe''

MEDIA RELEASE 15 July 2004

Kina Lap Up “Niwa’s Secret Recipe”

Scientists, turned chefs, have been cooking up a treat for kina - one that can treble the size of the highly prized roe.

In Japanese markets such as the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market, urchin roe can fetch between NZ$20-500 per kg wholesale, depending on quality and availability.

The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is working with Sealord Group Ltd and Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd of Japan, to develop special diets for New Zealand’s main sea urchin species (Evechinus chloroticus - kina).

The aim is to develop special diets which will increase the yield and improve the quality (colour and taste) of roe from harvested kina.

Chris Woods, scientist at NIWA’s Mahanga Bay aquaculture facility in Wellington, says they are getting dramatic improvements in the amount of roe produced.

“Depending on dietary formulation (and a suite of other factors), the gonad size of our kina can be easily doubled or tripled over a 10-week period.

“We are also making steady gains in roe colour and taste, though it’ll take more time and work to consistently achieve premium Japanese import standards. Our partners from Nippon Suisan Kaisha are helping taste-test the resulting roe from each batch of trials, as well as helping to uncover the underlying characteristics that determine premium roe. Sealord are providing the base ingredient for the kina diets, which is derived from fish byproducts” says Chris Woods.

Kina roe is a complex product. In addition to diet, the condition of kina roe is affected by a range of environmental factors. NIWA is studying the best holding conditions for kina taken from the wild. The scientists have also been working alongside the kina fishing and processing company, Sea Urchin New Zealand, to establish the best land-based roe enhancement conditions.

ENDS

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