Māori Name: Hāmana
Name Scientific: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Availability: Year round
Attributes Weight: 8–10kg
Attributes Length: 40–100cm
They are found mainly in the gravel rivers on the east coast of the South Island.
Variable colour. Fresh-run salmon are largely silver with a greenish tinge above, dotted with black spots. The species has a small adipose fin and an anal fin base that is longer than the longest anal fin ray.
King salmon are members of the Salmonidae family (trout, salmon). They were introduced to New Zealand early in the twentieth century. Related species: Two related, non-native Salmonidae salmon species occur in New Zealand-sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).
Spawning takes place in autumn and winter. The young fish (parr) then spend three months in fresh water before migrating to the sea as smolts. They live there for two to four years. The maturing adults return to the river of their birth, spawn and then die.
Every salmon farm in NZ must operate in accordance with a resource consent that sets strict conditions determined and enforced by the local regional council. In effect, the consent is a licence that tightly controls, among other things, the amount of fish, feed and waste permitted. King salmon farmed in New Zealand eat a diet of specially blended pellets containing fishmeal, fish oil, plant and terrestrial animal proteins. The small amount of wild fish in their diet is sourced from the well-managed Peruvian anchovy fishery. The Quota Management System does not apply to King Salmon; it is instead governed by provisions within the Resource Management Act and the Aquaculture Act.
All King salmon sold in New Zealand or exported are farm-reared initially in fresh water ponds until they are pan sized (about 30 centimetres) and then in sea cages until they weigh about five kilograms. Fish are harvested year-round to suit the market. Hatcheries release millions of smolt into the rivers annually for recreational fishing stocks.
Did You Know
The Mackenzie Basin in the Southern Alps is home to a unique system of freshwater salmon farming, using the lakes and canals associated with the hydroelectric dams there. One of the farms, at 677 metres, is the highest salmon farm in the world.
King Salmon has a full flavour with a soft, delicate "melt in the mouth" texture. It is highly regarded for its taste and texture - the result of a premium breed of salmon which stores higher levels of natural oils.It is a versatile fish and works well using any cooking method. King Salmon is ready to serve when the flesh turns opaque. Salmon can be served rare and eaten raw. It cooks quickly and will flake easily when tested with a fork.
King Salmon is available whole, filleted, portioned or smoked. Look for an even consistency of vibrant apricot colour across the salmon meat and firm, moist flesh. Keep whole salmon wrapped in clingfilm or foil to prevent it from drying out. If sealed, salmon can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Defrost slowly at room temperature.