NIWA opens $2.5 million aquaculture facility in Northland


New Zealand’s largest aquaculture facility – Bream Bay Aquaculture – opens tomorrow, 24 April, in Ruakaka, just south of Whangarei.

The $2.5 million R&D facility aims to bridge the gap between small-scale research and commercial-scale production of high quality products to help New Zealand meet the growing demand for seafood. Research into a variety of fish and shellfish species, including kingfish, eels, and Pacific oysters, will provide important information to existing and new aquaculture operators, and help them to create new sustainable ventures. Partnerships with the aquaculture industry will be a key feature of the facility.

NIWA chose Bream Bay as the site of the new facility because it was close to its researchers and clients in Auckland and had existing infrastructure, particularly the large pipelines that were previously built to draw cooling water from the sea for the Marsden Power Station. These same pipelines will now supply high quality seawater to the facility.

Aquaculture is New Zealand’s fastest growing seafood industry sector and has the potential to earn $1 billion in export revenue by 2020 according to the latest New Zealand Seafood Industry Economic review. World demand for seafood is increasing but the wild fishery cannot meet this demand. Aquaculture, however, can.

The Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, who will officially open the facility, said New Zealand’s future prospects as a top quality source of seafood for global markets will depend to a large extent on our ability to bring new species into aquaculture production.

“The growth of aquaculture will benefit the entire New Zealand economy,” he said.

“Bream Bay’s focus on warm-temperate aquaculture and its ability to test new techniques at near commercial-scale production will help ensure New Zealand remains at the forefront of aquaculture development.”

In addition to the Hon. Pete Hodgson, seafood industry representatives and local and regional councils will be among the invited guests. The guests will be welcomed on to the site by Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust before the official opening, a seafood-themed lunch, and tours of the new facility. In line with the partnership approach, Te Ohu Kai Moana and Moana Pacific are sponsoring the day.

The new Bream Bay facility is described in Fisheries and Aquaculture Update and is operated by our National Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture.

NIWA Hatchery Technician Dave Mcqueen and NIWA Chief Scientist (Aquaculture) Andrew Forsythe at a hapuku tank at Bream Bay. [Irene Van de Ven]