New hatchery to boost mussel industry

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a major milestone for the aquaculture industry today with the opening of the country’s first ever hatchery specially designed for mussels.

The mussel hatchery and nursery facility in Nelson is part of the SPATnz Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, which was established to develop selectively bred, high-value Greenshell™ mussels.

“This hatchery is the culmination of years of research and development by a team of scientists from Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) and the Cawthron Institute,” says Mr Guy. 

“It has the potential to generate nearly 200 million dollars per year to New Zealand’s economy.

“Currently the mussel farming industry relies on baby mussels (spat) collected from the wild, which means there can be inconsistency with the supply and quality.

“New Zealand Greenshell™ mussels are already highly regarded by our premium markets. This facility will allow SPATnz to selectively breed from many of the best mussels that nature has to offer, to enhance desirable traits such as a faster growth rates, increased resilience and vibrant colour.

“This will mean that mussel spat can be produced reliably and affordably on a commercial scale, and industry can breed mussels with the qualities expected by all consumers around the world.”

The Government is investing a maximum of $13 million into the SPATnz programme, with the other half funded by industry partner Sanford Limited. SPATnz is a 7-year programme, launched in November 2012.

“This is another success story for PGP and shows what an impact it is already having, helping to boost the value of primary sector exports.

“It builds on our reputation for premium seafood and is delivering innovation that will improve mussel crops for decades to come,” says Mr Guy.

About the Primary Growth Partnership:

  • Government and industry are co-investing $720 million over time into 20 PGP programmes (2 completed, 16 current, and 2 pending) involving the red meat, dairy, horticulture, viticulture, forestry and seafood industries.
  • The PGP aims to boost the productivity, value and profitability of our primary sector through investment between government and industry. It provides an essential springboard to enable New Zealand to stay at the forefront of primary sector innovation.
  • PGP programmes are generally long-run programmes of five to seven years’ duration and are subject to oversight and monitoring by an independent panel (the Investment Advisory Panel) and MPI.
  • Monitoring requirements include programme steering groups, quarterly progress reporting, annual plans, audits, and progress reviews, along with evaluation of the overall programme. Funding is only released to programmes on receipt of invoices for work completed in accordance with programme plans.
  • A recent report by NZIER shows that the PGP could return up to $6.4 billion to the New Zealand economy by 2025, and up to $11.1 billion if the aspirational stretch of programmes is realised, the innovations are taken up widely and the research and development is successful.
  • More information is available at