30 Years Of Salmon Farming In New Zealand
Takaka Hatchery – 30 Years Of Salmon Farming In New Zealand
The Takaka Hatchery in Pupu Valley, Golden Bay, is celebrating 30 years of salmon farming.
The New Zealand King Salmon hatchery also holds the distinction of being the first salmon farm in New Zealand, having been granted MoF licence No. 1 in November 1978.
The Company, local residents, stakeholders and dignitaries are attending a commemorative celebration on 19 December.
The site was first identified as having potential to farm salmon as early as 1974 when Clive Barker was granted a water right to pump from the Waikoropupu River for experimental salmon farming.
Bubbling Springs Salmon Co was then formed. The original concept was for ocean ranching with juvenile salmon (smolt) released into the river to swim out to sea and then be recaptured two or three years later when they returned as maturing adults. By the time the first licence was granted in 1978 the process was reasonably proven and expansion began to rear breeding fish and juveniles.
By 1984 more than 500,000 smolts had been released into the river but returns were insufficient to make it a profitable venture and a change of focus was needed. Increased water permits were obtained to draw water from Waikoropupu Springs and the site developed in order to rear salmon to harvest size in ponds.
In 1987 Southern Ocean Salmon emerged as a new venture and the first full harvest of freshwater-reared salmon took place in 1989. During the next 10 years nearly 3,500 tonnes of salmon were harvested for processing in Nelson with smolt being supplied for grow out in the company’s expanding marine farms within Pelorus Sound.
In July 1996 Southern Ocean Seafoods merged with Regal Salmon to form NZ King Salmon. The new company had a production capability in the Marlborough Sounds of 5,000 tonnes a year and it needed an increased number of smolt to supply the sea farms.
The Takaka facility’s annual production of 350 tonnes became uneconomical; it was a logical step to turn it into a hatchery, producing eggs and smolt. Takaka teamed up with the old Regal hatchery in Canterbury to become the freshwater focus for NZ King Salmon.
Today, the old rearing ponds and raceways are used to produce the best quality Chinook broodstock in the world, as well as top quality smolts for the sea cages. Whilst the biomass on site is now half of what it used to be, it enables the company to grow fish at very low densities. The results are premium quality eggs and smolt that provide the best starting points for NZ King Salmon’s production process. They also support the strategies of year round harvest of the highest quality enjoyed by consumers in New Zealand and around the Pacific rim.
Since 1974 a total of two trillion litres of water has passed through the farm, 75 million eggs have been spawned and 30 million smolts either reared at Takaka or transferred to sea cages.
As the company continues its measured expansion, the Takaka hatchery will continue to play a key role in meeting that growing demand.