Mussel breeding research pays off

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

A major breakthrough in breeding mussels commercially has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“The first harvest of high-value greenshell mussels from a purpose-built hatchery means the industry will be less reliant on collecting unreliable wild spat,” says Mr Guy.

“Currently most wild spat is collected from seaweed on 90 Mile Beach. This innovation gives much more certainty to growers and means they can develop a higher value product with the characteristics consumers want, like size, colour and taste.

“It also means certainty of supply which is very important for markets.

“This is a key milestone in a $26 million Primary Growth Partnership programme called SPATnz, with equal co-funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries and Sanford Ltd.

“This is a great example of industry and Government working together to develop high-end products, adding value to one of New Zealand’s most valuable seafood industries.

“It also comes nearly two years to the day after I opened New Zealand’s first purpose-built mussel hatchery in Nelson.”

The SPATnz programme is aiming to generate economic benefits for New Zealand of $81 million by 2026.

If the technology developed by the programme is adopted more broadly throughout the sector, the benefits could be worth nearly $200 million.

About the Primary Growth Partnership

  • The PGP aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary sector through investment between government and the food, beverage, fibre and other industries. It provides an essential springboard to enable New Zealand to stay at the forefront of primary sector innovation.
  • Government and industry are co-investing $759 million over time into 22 PGP programmes (3 completed and 19 underway). Once contracted, the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme will add to these figures.
  • Decisions on whether or not to approve a programme are made by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, under recommendation from the independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).
  • PGP programmes are generally long-run programmes of five to seven years’ duration and are subject to oversight and monitoring by an independent Investment Advisory Panel and MPI.
  • Monitoring requirements include programme steering groups, quarterly progress reporting, annual plans, financial audits, and progress reviews, along with an independent evaluation of the overall programme. 
  • Government funding is only released to programmes on receipt of invoices for work completed in accordance with programme plans.
  • Overall, the whole PGP is estimated to contribute $6.4 billion to New Zealand’s GDP from 2025, to assist towards reaching the goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025.
  • More information is available at: