Northland's major new $20 million pilot kingfish farming venture brings huge aquaculture potential for the region according to Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
Jones said the on-land aquaculture venture at Bream Bay near Whangārei focused on looking at how a commercial kingfish venture of its type could be used as a model to help others in Northland and around New Zealand to set up a similar enterprise.
He said opportunities from the new pilot could include the model being set up in areas such as Kaipara where he today opened the Ruawai headquarters of a local primary industry kick-start programme known as Kaipara Kai. The project is focused on boosting local primary industry across lower Northland, aquaculture among identified expansion opportunities.
The Government, through its Provincial Growth Fund, yesterday announced a $6 million grant for the Bream Bay pilot venture. This will take place seaside at the 8.4 hectare National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) marine farming research facility on Ruakākā north beach, south of Whangārei.
NIWA has developed aquaculture at the site for almost 20 years.
It is putting $7.84m towards the pilot. Ratepayer-funded Northland Regional Council (NRC) is also funding up to $6m contribution towards the project.
The pilot commercial kingfish aquaculture venture is to be built at what is New Zealand's largest marine research facility.
Jones said on-land kingfish production had come a long way since his iwi made a failed attempt to set up a land-based venture of this time on the shores of the Far North's Parengarenga Harbour more than a decade ago.
If successful, the new pilot will be a milestone in New Zealand's kingfish aquaculture industry development.
The pilot being heralded is based on a more-or-less self-contained operation which is dependent on fresh Bream Bay seawater. This is brought in from the sea through about 400 metre long pipes and recirculated through the land-based fish farming operation. The bulk of the seawater is recycled rather than put back into the ocean as treated wastewater.
But some of it is discharged back into the sea, via initially-underground pipes linking the site to the ocean through sand hills and down across the beach.
The 8.4 hectare Niwa site where the pilot is to happen is on land what was developed initially in the sixties by Electricity Corporation New Zealand.
Four large pipes running from the site into the sea as a result of its previous electricity industry use - and with already-existing resource consents to take seawater (a land-based aquaculture essential) – were the key reason Niwa moved into the site.