Greenshell mussels worth $200 million to NZ economy

Close to 500 tonnes of SPATNZ mussels will be harvested over the coming months Close to 500 tonnes of SPATNZ mussels will be harvested over the coming months

Scientists have used some surprising and ingenious methods to get Greenshell mussels to breed in captivity and their efforts could soon be worth NZ$200 million a year to the New Zealand economy.

Warm baths and vibrating devices are just two of the clever tricks New Zealand scientists have employed to get the mussels to breed on cue.

Rodney Roberts, scientist and SPATNZ boss, said: “Normally these mussels breed in the wild and we wait for their babies, known as spat, to wash up on beaches attached to seaweed or land on catch ropes. That made life difficult for New Zealand mussel farmers, who had to cross their fingers and hope they would have enough spat for their farms from year to year.”

Gary Hooper, CEO of Aquaculture New Zealand, said: “Hatchery spat is a game changer for our industry, it opens up all sorts of opportunities around selective breeding and product development in high value areas like nutraceuticals and superfoods. New Zealand mussels are already world famous but the hatchery unlocks a new level of innovation to take our industry to another level.”

The SPATNZ hatchery and the science behind it is the result of a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and New Zealand’s oldest and biggest seafood company, Sanford.

Sanford and MPI are each investing NZ$13 million into this PGP programme over its lifetime.

SPATNZ hatchery mussels are at harvest size now in the Marlborough Sounds and close to 500 tonnes of them will be harvested over the coming months.

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