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Politics | Aquaculture

Project to breed ‘super’ snapper gets government sign-off

A new project that Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones believes could help future-proof New Zealand aquaculture is underway to breed ‘super’ snapper that are more resistant to disease, grow faster and can thrive in warmer water.

Plant and Food Research (PFR), a Crown research institute, is taking the research to the next stage.

Under the Fisheries Act, fish caught for research purposes are not able to be used in aquaculture. However, PFR has been granted an exemption that means it can move its brood snapper stock to a pilot-scale aquaculture farm being developed in Marlborough.

Jones considers the project could help drive more economic growth through aquaculture.

“The potential here goes far beyond growing a better and more resilient breed of fish, it also supports our efforts to grow and future-proof New Zealand’s aquaculture,” Jones said on Monday.

“Climate change is affecting the condition of our oceans and this project is a practical response by a key industry to that change.”

Jones said growing the snapper faster and getting them to market faster had the potential to create new export opportunities.

“In the wild, snapper can take many years to grow to catch size. The ability to grow them faster, getting them from farm to plate in a shorter time, could open up a new export market and reduce pressure on wild snapper stock.”

The initiative is part and parcel of government efforts to grow a multibillion-dollar aquaculture industry, he says.

“Research that is focused on expanding and improving farmed fish species is very welcome and should be encouraged and supported.

“Growing aquaculture is a win for all New Zealanders. It provides jobs and economic growth for the regions and increases export potential for the country.”