Aquaculture and value-adding will drive NZ seafood industry

Date: 1/2/2002

Aquaculture and value-adding will drive NZ seafood industry

The first major overview of New Zealand’s seafood industry in four years suggests the future is positive and points to further growth in aquaculture and increased value-added processing.

The NZ Seafood Industry Economic Review 1997-2001 was released November 21 at Auckland’s Heritage Hotel. It states seafood is New Zealand’s fourth biggest exported product sector (after dairy, meat and timber), earning $1.4 billion and supporting more than 26,000 full-time equivalent jobs around the country. Also recent economic growth in Europe, USA and China has spurred seafood sales worldwide and NZ seafood export sales have increased by 24% over the last three years. It also points out that volumes of seafood traded have declined as companies move towards more value-added product forms, thereby reducing bulk.

NZ Seafood Industry Council trade and information manager, Alastair Macfarlane said that adding value to the raw material has been a key strategy over the past four years and companies have invested heavily in equipment and marketing with a particularly noticeable commitment to staff training. This reflects companies’ recognition that well-trained, skilled workers are critical in moving seafood products higher up the value chain. Industry training levels are three times the national average, and the Council expects companies’ investment in staff and training will only grow in the years ahead.

Mr Macfarlane also said that around a quarter of world seafood production is farmed and predictions are this will more than double by 2025 and that New Zealand can be part of this. The Aquaculture Council announced in May this year that within twenty years,, sales of farmed, NZ seafood would equal those of NZ’s wild catch sector. Already Greenshell™ Mussels have shown some of this potential with predictions of mussel production expanding a further 50% over the next five years. Future developments can add significantly to economic growth – particularly in Northland and the East Coast of the North Island. But Mr Macfarlane believes that to reach full potential, marine farming must be identified as an important economic activity by key policy and decision-makers at Local Authority and Central Government level. Adding that further investments will enable NZ seafood companies to hold their own in world markets and put them in strong position for when the global economy begins growing again.

The review also states aquaculture will provide another major direction of future growth. It suggests that total exports of NZ seafood should remain stable over the next five years, the prediction is for changes in the mix of species and products.

For more information, contact Alastair Macfarlane at the NZ Seafood Industry Council on 04 385 4005 or 021 687 537.

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