Mussel breeding research pays off

A breakthrough in mussel breeding research could be a boon for the industry. File photo.

A major breakthrough in breeding mussels commercially has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

He says the first harvest of high-value greenshell mussels from a purpose-built hatchery means the industry will be less reliant on collecting unreliable wild spat.

“Currently most wild spat is collected from seaweed on 90 Mile Beach. This innovation gives much more certainty to growers and means they can develop a higher value product with the characteristics consumers want, like size, colour and taste,” says Nathan.

It also means certainty of supply, which is very important for markets.

“This is a key milestone in a $26 million Primary Growth Partnership programme called SPATnz, with equal co-funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries and Sanford Ltd.

“This is a great example of industry and Government working together to develop high-end products, adding value to one of New Zealand's most valuable seafood industries.

“It also comes nearly two years to the day after I opened New Zealand's first purpose-built mussel hatchery in Nelson.”

The SPATnz programme is aiming to generate economic benefits for New Zealand of $81 million by 2026.

If the technology developed by the programme is adopted more broadly throughout the sector, the benefits could be worth nearly $200 million.

About the Primary Growth Partnership

The PGP aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of the primary sector through a $759 million co-investment between the government and the food, beverage, fibre and other industries.

PGP programmes are generally long-run programmes of five to seven years' duration and are subject to oversight and monitoring by an independent Investment Advisory Panel and MPI.

There are 22 PGP programmes, of which, three are completed and 19 are currently underway, while the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme will add to these figures once it is contracted.

Overall, the whole PGP is estimated to contribute $6.4 billion to New Zealand's GDP from 2025, to assist towards reaching the goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025.

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