Whangarei aquaculture development attracts overseas interest

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Dr Brendan Gara from the Isle of Man, and Australian Ian Cameron have seen a lot of fish in their 35-plus years working in the aquaculture industry.

The two have just begun work at Bream Bay Aquaculture, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s (NIWA) new aquaculture facility at Bream Bay, Whangarei.

Dr Gara moved half way round the world from the Isle of Man to take up the position of hatchery and site manager at Bream Bay. He has developed and run a commercial seawater hatchery for finfish such as turbot, and also spent 3 years in Scotland working on the commercial rearing of halibut – the largest flatfish – and the economically important cod.

Bream Bay Aquaculture is situated at the site of the old Marsden A power station and is the largest aquaculture production and research facility in New Zealand. It will specialise in the research, commercialisation of research, and commercial production of a number of species, including kingfish, snapper, oysters, eels, rock lobsters, and seahorses. Other species will be added in the future.

Ian Cameron, the new production supervisor at Bream Bay Aquaculture, has lived and breathed aquaculture for the past 25 years. He has successfully reared a western Australian seahorse species through three generations, and helped to construct and operate the first abalone hatchery in western Australia. This new position will give him the opportunity to focus on his oyster production and finfish skills.

Dr Gara and Mr Cameron will be based permanently at Bream Bay, and more staff will come on board in the new year. Nearly one-third of New Zealand’s total seafood workforce is employed in the aquaculture industry, and there will be local employment opportunities at this new facility, both directly and indirectly, through related tourism and food and beverage ventures. There will also be a strong educational focus to the site, with many opportunities to train students and industry at all levels from research through to commercial production.

World demand for seafood is increasing, but the wild fishery cannot meet this demand. Aquaculture, however, can. It is predicted that half the world’s seafood production will be farmed within 25 years. This facility will help ensure that New Zealand can compete internationally in what is now the fastest growing primary production industry in the world.

Construction on the Bream Bay site is now well underway and is expected to be completed by the end of January 2002. All resource and land-use consents, as well as fish farming permits have been issued. Staff will move on to the site in early December, and the official opening is set for April next year.

For further information contact:

Dr Simon Hooker,
Manager, Aquaculture and Marine Ecology
+64 9 375 2054
s.hooker@niwa.co.nz

Farmed Hapuku. [NIWA]