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Oyster industry welcomes SFF

New Zealand Oyster Industry Association

Media release Wednesday 9 May 2012

Oyster industry welcomes SFF

The New Zealand Oyster Industry Association (NZOIA) has welcomed funding approval from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) for its Oyster Industry Modernisation Project.

NZOIA Chairman Callum McCallum said yesterday’s announcement of the funding was great news for oyster farmers and a strong show of support from Government. “The New Zealand oyster industry faces a huge challenge to overcome the OSHV1 virus that has for the past two years been causing widespread Juvenile Oyster Mortality (JOM) and thus decimated the wild juvenile oysters on which our farming has been based,” Mr McCallum said.

“Industry has worked with Government to identify the virus and find ways to manage around it since it was first diagnosed in November 2010. “We are very grateful for the continued support and cooperation from Government during this very difficult time for the industry.”

Mr McCallum, said the existing Industry and Cawthron oyster selective breeding programme had already benefited from $150,000 immediate support from MAF over the past year, to allow immediate virus resistance trials.

The SFF funding of $407,000 for the modernisation project, developed in conjunction with Aquaculture New Zealand, will allow work to continue and be scaled-up over the next three years. This is complemented by re-allocation of matching Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) funding over the next three years, plus similar inputs from industry, he said.

The work will be done primarily at the Cawthron Institute’s Nelson Shellfish Research Hatchery and on industry farms primarily in Auckland, Coromandel and Northland.

“The SFF Funding enables the oyster industry to continue and intensify selective breeding, but also bring changes to the way that oysters are farmed, so as to manage around and minimise oyster losses due to the virus,” he said.

“In a nutshell, we’re trying to breed as good or better oysters that are reliably JOM resilient plus complement that by determining ideal farm management practices for JOM resilience such as density, tidal exposure, seasonality. If, or rather when we get it right, our industry can quickly rebuild from our current production of approximately 1/3 of our 2009 production which was worth $30M annual sales, the majority as exports and which supported some 400 jobs. Indeed we believe that if all goes well, the world’s very large oyster markets will support our growth to a $100M NZ Oyster Industry, within two decades from now.”


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