Aquaculture breeding services

With the growing global demand for protein and increasing demand for high-value food products from the sea, there is great economic opportunity to provide environmentally responsible and sustainable aquaculture.

To help meet this demand New Zealand's aquaculture industry aims to be a $1 billion industry by 2025. NIWA supports this aim through its National Centre for Aquaculture, which brings together world class facilities and the largest team of aquaculture specialists in New Zealand.

This blend of facilities, science and expertise provides industry with the unique science support to underpin current and developing operations and innovation. Under the Centre one of NIWA's core areas of research and consultancy services is its aquaculture breeding. 

We are using selective breeding and genomics – the study of gene sequences in DNA – to establish high-performance hapuku, kingfish and abalone broodstock, and to enhance the performance of established species such as Chinook salmon, working closely with commercial partners.

Our breeding services (PDF 2.7 MB)

Our successes

We are using selective breeding and genomics – the study of gene sequences in DNA – to establish high-performance hapuku, kingfish and abalone broodstock, and to enhance the performance of established species such as Chinook salmon, working closely with commercial partners.

Kingfish (Seriola lalandi)

After ten years of research we can reliably manipulate kingfish to spawn on demand year round, and have developed methodologies for generating individual family crosses. DNA markers allow us to accurately determine parentage and track family performance to select the elite for future breeding.

Hāpuku (groper, Polyprion oxygeneios)

After eight years of intensive research developing hatchery technology for hāpuku, we now have over sixty hāpuku families that are currently undergoing evaluation and selection. For example, our best performing F1 family grows 15% faster than the worst family from the same year class.

Paua (abalone, Haliotis iris)

NIWA scientists developed techniques for hatching abalone in the 1980s, and have established multiple family lines to determine the heritability of key performance traits. For example, from our analysis of growth traits we estimate performance can be improved by as much as 10–20% per generation.

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

We have successfully completed X-radiography feed intake and feed efficiency studies, and demonstrated that feed efficiency is heritable and can be improved through selective breeding. 

Our services

Our team can help you with all aspects of broodstock development and management, from acquisition, set-up and advice on nutrition and husbandry of new brood, right the way through to detailed troubleshooting and managing the genetic make-up of your existing broodstock to optimise performance to meet your business needs.

Our process

By working closely with you we can develop a broodstock selection and development programme, tailor-made for your operation, and designed at an appropriate level to meet your specific business needs. This is done through a staged process:

Stage 1 – Consultation

We begin by carrying out a comprehensive review of your operation to identify the resources you have available and your current constraints.

Stage 2 – Definition

After consultation we will define your specific needs and develop a range of options to meet these, based on your current requirements and future goals.

Stage 3 – Implementation & Support 

We will help you to manage the roll-out of your selected option and can provide you with on-going support and advice as
defined in Stage 2.

Our expertise

  • Broodstock husbandry, nutrition and spawning advice
  • Development of broodstock management and selection plans appropriate for the resources available and individual goals of the farmer
  • Breeding programme design and implementation protocols
  • Development of methods for the accurate analysis of commercially valuable traits
  • Genetic evaluation of performance traits and selection index development
  • Data management and analysis
  • Application of DNA markers for the determination of parentage
  • Application of techniques such as hormone induction to enhance broodstock management and selection. 


Dr Jane Symonds 


Paua family individuals with spring tags. Credit: NIWA


Hapuku F1 feed intake ballotini beads X-ray. Credit: NIWA


Hapuku egg development. Credit: NIWA