Marlborough is home to more than half of New Zealand’s production of both Pacific Salmon and Greenshell™ Mussels, and is also a major producer of oysters. As a result, the aquaculture sector is a significant economic driver within the Marlborough business community, and across the Top of the South Island.
Based predominantly in the Marlborough Sounds, the industry provides significant employment and holds a great deal of potential for positively impacting communities, particularly in Picton and Havelock.
The Aquaculture Smart+Connected Group was formed in 2016, with the Marlborough-based Marine Farmers’ Association (MFA) acting as a secretariat. The group is primarily industry-driven, with major corporate members playing an active role. Aquaculture New Zealand (AQNZ), the national industry body, is also an active member.
The Group’s structure comprises two Working Groups, with the Value and Innovation Group focused on facilitating industry research and innovation, value addition and diversification into new species, while the Harmony Group is engaged in community consultation, the promotion of seafood consumption and the management of the industry’s social and environmental footprint.
Some notable successes that have been achieved since 2016 include:
- Blue Mussels - the development of a blue mussel processing facility in Havelock, including a successful application for funding from the Provincial Growth Fund. Prior to this initiative, Blue Mussels were a zero-value by-product of Greenshell Mussel farming;
- Aquaculture Week - the creation of a week-long festival leading up to the Havelock Mussel Festival, held annually in March and incorporating food festivals, industry showcases and aquaculture science exhibitions.
- Signature dishes - the development of signature Marlborough dishes, incorporating locally-produced seafood.
- Aquaculture New Zealand Annual Conference - the hosting in 2018 of the national Aquaculture New Zealand Conference at the Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim.
Initiatives under development include:
- Aquaculture in Marlborough (AIM) - the development of a balanced scorecard approach to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts (both positive and negative) arising from the aquaculture industry
- Polyculture – the promotion of commercial cultivation of new species, and the integrated management of multi-species aquaculture on marine farms