High Value Aquaculture - Progress Update August 2010

The High Value Aquaculture Programme has made great progress on a number of fronts. Here, we summarise highlights for all four species: kingfish, hapuku, paua, and salmon.


  • Established the protocols and procedures for commercial production of kingfish fingerlings. Transferred technical information to allow potential commercial partners to assess business opportunities, with negotiations to supply fingerlings underway.
  • Confirmed that growth of kingfish to a market size of 3 kg in a maximum of 18 months is achievable and cost-effective. Growth models indicate that 5 g fingerlings stocked in sea-cages could reach 3 kg in as little as 12 months, with feed conversion ratios, or ‘fish-in-fish-out’ ratios, as good as those achieved for salmon.
  • In collaboration with international feed companies, designed new diets specifically for kingfish. These are currently being tested on our F1 (first generation) and F2 (second generation) year stocks during growth trials, and will be immediately available once the New Zealand kingfish farming industry becomes established.


  • Identified hapuku as the flagship new high-value aquaculture species through market research.
  • Developed the techniques to capture, maintain, and breed from wild-caught hapuku.
  • Successfully bred from F1 captive broodstock.
  • Developed a suite of standard operating procedures for hatchery production, most of which are suitable for commercial roll-out. These cover spawning and egg collection, pre-feeding and post- establishment of feeding larval stages, and production of 5 g juveniles suitable for transfer to on-growing in sea cages.
  • Applied a simple, yet novel, feeding strategy to overcome a common hurdle for marine finfish larval production: the successful initiation of first-feeding.
  • Achieved a 10-fold improvement in larval survival rates to 3%.
  • Concluded trials on the on-growing of hapuku F1’s under different temperature regimes in tank and cage environments at Mahanga Bay Marine Research Centre (Wellington) and Bream Bay Aquaculture Park (Northland).
  • Notable chefs and seafood restaurateurs assessed our farmed hapuku very positively, judging it a very versatile fish. Based on their feedback, we’re developing experiments to further enhance the product’s taste, texture, shelf-life, and freezing technology.


  • Working closely with our commercial partner, preliminary findings suggest that larger paua (50 mm to market size) require a greater degree of thermal control than small paua (< 50 mm) to optimise growth rates.
  • This information can be fed into cost-benefit analyses to assess the degree of trade-off between thermal control and cost of production and final market price.


  • Established that genetic variation exists for feed efficiency in salmon.
  • The next step is to identify DNA markers for feed efficiency that can be used in selective breeding programmes, obviating the need to conduct time-consuming family feed intake trials every year.
Research subject: Fish