Opportunities in farmed salmon for New Zealand: Study

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

A new study has identified that a stronger focus on aquaculture, specifically salmon, will drive growth in New Zealand's seafood industry.

The October report by consultancy firm, Coriolis, noted opportunities in farmed fishing due to the country having the 10th longest coastline in the world, with only a tiny fraction of this currently farmed.

The total value of New Zealand's aquaculture industry is NZ$376m with 73% of it exported. Currently the country farms three species in quantity: mussels, salmon and oysters.

Mussels make up 86% of production, salmon 12% and oysters 3%. In 2010, these made up 99% of total seafood exports and were valued at NZ$275m.

Salmon identified as key driver

According to findings, New Zealand’s key focus should be on salmon as it is a high-value species and has successfully driven seafood industries in other countries with similar climatic conditions.

In 2008, 82% of Chile's aquaculture sector was salmon and in Norway and Denmark salmon comprised 97% of its produce.

Benchmarking with peer groups, found the research, suggests salmon is the key proven opportunity going forward.

Companies are now focusing on driving the seafood sector forward via salmon, with New Zealand King Salmon applying to increase its production to 15,000 tonnes by 2015, doubling current capacity. Others have pledged large sums of money this year to expand business, with Alpine Salmon driving a NZ$20m expansion plan, the study found.

Asia to support growth

The research noted that Asia represents huge opportunities for the country's aquaculture sector, as a growing middle-class push demand for seafood.

Growth in this market is primarily coming from China and a handful of South East Asian countries.

While the majority of New Zealand's exported seafood is frozen, the report detailed that profitability lies in fresh produce, particularly in filet form, as the fish is higher in value on the market.

Challenges

The research noted limitations, with space allocation a strong problem identified by the industry.

Industry members described New Zealand's water space allocation as a debacle and added that the task of changing farms from mussels to salmon would prove costly and difficult.

Theoretically New Zealand has huge potential in salmon aquaculture, but in practice there are regulations and red tape that will limit this success,” the report detailed.

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