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Rosewarne: Continued progress in biosecurity vital

Monday 18 December 2017

New Zealand King Salmon believes that the holistic approach achieved by the former Ministry for Primary Industries was positive for the New Zealand primary sector. We believe that this resulted in a coordinated, prioritised and structured approach for all primary industries. 

NZ King Salmon sees itself and aquaculture in general, as being more aligned with farming and agriculture than with the wild capture fishery. We respect our colleagues in the wild fishery industry, given they operate to a Quota Management System which is at or close to best practice, however our philosophy and approach is much more aligned with farming than with hunting. Therefore to be part of the Ministry of Agriculture would be positive from NZ King Salmon’s perspective. 

Having said all this, a separate fisheries and aquaculture ministry has the potential to bring strong focus to the aquaculture sector which we believe has a disproportionately large part to play in sustainably producing healthy food and creating green jobs. 

New Zealand King Salmon has only 17 surface hectares to produce $150 million worth of salmon a year and support approximately 500 regional green jobs. Unfortunately, more than half of this space, nine surface hectares, was historically awarded and is suboptimal. If it were moved, on a no-increase basis, and often as little as a few kilometres, an outstandingly good environmental outcome could be achieved together with a better social outcome and the creation of 300 additional regional green jobs at NZ King Salmon plus significant flow on employment benefits in other regional industries. The Ministry for Primary Industries conducted a thorough investigation into moving these nine surface hectares. NZ King Salmon believes the Government should prioritise this initiative because of the improved environmental outcome, industry growth and the 300 regional families that would benefit. 

New Zealand biosecurity has dramatically improved over recent years, so our country is generally in a better place. Salmon aquaculture in New Zealand has strong biosecurity practices with one important exception, which we would like the new Government to address.

The requirements for salmon aquaculture biosecurity are well-known, having been pioneered and developed by such advanced countries as Norway. Each salmon producer requires a minimum of four separate production regions, ideally about 35km apart to achieve best practice biosecurity. In this way an “all fish in”/“all fish out” practice can be achieved with the separation of year classes. 

Adequate space and separate regions have never been made available in New Zealand to allow for proper biosecurity. It is sometimes naïvely believed that merely reducing production could achieve a good biosecure outcome but this is not the case, as it would not allow year round harvest and thus protection of current branded premium business. We would like the new Government to properly address this issue as we have the opportunity to put our industry on a solid biosecure footing before some sort of incursion occurs.

-  New Zealand King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne

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