The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $6 million in a land-based aquaculture pilot to see whether yellowtail kingfish can be commercially farmed in Northland, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.
A recirculating land-based aquaculture system will be built and operated at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) Northland Marine Research Centre at Bream Bay. The system is a prototype to see if it is technically and economically feasible to grow 600 tonnes of yellowtail kingfish to market size on land each year.
“If proven, this system will produce high-value aquaculture products with global appeal that are produced sustainably and efficiently. World demand for sustainable products like kingfish is increasing, particularly for the high-end sushi market. Local restaurant suppliers have also shown a demand for kingfish if its supply and quality is consistent,” Shane Jones says.
The total cost of the project is $19.8m, with Niwa contributing $7.84m and Northland Regional Council up to $6m in buildings and infrastructure. The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is contributing with a $6m loan.
Initially, 18 jobs in Northland will be created. If kingfish production is proven viable at 600 tonnes a year, it could lead to a full-scale 3000-tonne operation in five years with revenue estimated at $45 million per annum.
“Successful expansion will give the private sector the opportunity to invest in larger reticulating aquaculture operations, not only in Northland but nationwide. The knowledge gained through this initiative could contribute to the potential development of other land-based aquaculture which would complement the rest of the industry,” Shane Jones says.
Producing fish on land is sustainable, with modern recirculating systems able to recycle the bulk of water it uses.
“This is the type of innovation the PGF wants to invest in. It is testing technology that could bring major sustainable economic growth not only to Northland, but the rest of the country.
“Both central and local government supports high-value land-based aquaculture as a key driver of sustainable economic growth. The project aligns with the Government’s aquaculture strategy and its goal of reaching $3 billion in annual aquaculture sales by 2035.
Shane Jones also today opened the Kaipara Kai Hub in Ruawai, south of Dargaville.
A PGF investment of $980,000 for Kaipara Kai was announced by the Government in February last year to explore new crop and stock types and aquaculture opportunities for the region.
The initiative will also promote high-value cropping on the district’s significant fertile whenua assets by utilising existing soil and crop research and environmental best-practice. This will move farming activities further up the value chain as well as developing capability in the local farming community.
“The hub is part of the Kaipara Kickstart package which the PGF has supported with $20.39m to build or improve infrastructure and open up land resources in the region. The infrastructure package focuses on improving local wharves, ferries and roads which contribute to lifting the economic sustainability of the region,” Shane Jones says.
Notes to editors:
Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.