Scientists plan mussel farms in open ocean

  • 20/01/2017
Mussel farm
Currently New Zealand's mussel farms exist in more sheltered ocean like the Marlborough Sounds (Getty)

Leading aquaculture experts are meeting in Nelson this week to find a way to farm mussels in the open ocean and inject as much as $300 million per year into the New Zealand economy.

Currently New Zealand's mussel farms exist in sheltered waters like the Firth of Thames or the Marlborough Sounds.

The plan is part of a five-year, $6m project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Project leader Kevin Heasman says it is the first project of its kind in the world and could lead to a doubling of New Zealand's aquaculture production.

He said New Zealand already had 10,000ha of open ocean available for commercial farming, but the challenge researchers faced was overcoming the difficult conditions.

"Stormy weather can harm shellfish mussel stocks and damage equipment; our project team are workshopping innovative solutions to reduce these risks," Mr Heasman said.

The project is being led by the Cawthron Institute with the support of international and University of Canterbury scientists as well as aquaculture industry experts.