The Greenshell mussel industry earns around $200m in export earnings each year. The seed material (spat) currently used to stock mussel farms comes from a number of sources; Ninety Mile Beach (60%) and Golden Bay and Tasman Bay (40%). There is a growing interest in hatchery grown spat.
Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) application.
The Marine Farming Association successfully lodged an application with the SSF to commence on a journey that will in the end provide quality Kaitaia spat to mussel farmers. This will occur through field sampling and the adoption of industry best practices.
The project aim is to;
- Develop a testing regime to assess the viability of spat before it leaves Kaitaia
- Develop a testing regime to assess the viability of spat when it reaches the marine farmer and when it is seeded out on the farm
- Develop a Code of Practice for the handling of Kaitaia Spat from the beach to the marine farmer
Why has the Industry done this?
- The cost of failed spat is significant for farmers and further research into spat viability and mortality has many benefits to the industry.
- To embark on a long term process of continuous improvement based on the health of spat throughout the collection, packaging, transportation and seeding processes.
- To ensure other Ninety Mile Beach stakeholders that the industry is harvesting mussel spat in a responsible and sustainable manner
- To reduce waste and cost to industry by avoiding the need to rework failed spat
- To have assurance that spat being purchased by farmers is healthy and in good condition
- To future proof the right to collect beach cast spat from Ninety Mile Beach by exhibiting responsible practices
- To better understand the variability’s around the collection and transportation of spat collected off Ninety Mile Beach
- To improve the profitability for mussel spat catchers and mussel farmers
Code of Practice
Project Update | November 2013
In November 2012 the MFA Executive Committee approved the Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa A Tohe) Weed / Mussel Spat Collecting, Storage, Transport and Seeding Code of Practice; this has been distributed to all MFA members and is available on the MFA website.
Fortunately there was a spat fall in early September 2013. A second trip was made to Ninety Mile Beach and data loggers were introduced into the transportation process. The results from these tests were presented at a workshop on 1st November 2013, this was the final wrap-up meeting and the final report has been completed. All MFA members were invited to attend.
Overall, a lot has been learnt from the project with the main realization that we have a lack of knowledge regarding spat and its retention. There is strong interest and a need for future projects to continue where this one finished. With the development and distribution of the 'Mussel Spat Stress Test Kit' testing can continue and results can be recorded. It is likely an application will be lodged with Seafood Innovations Limited to extend the work started by their project.
It is recommended that farmers enforce and put the Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa A Tohe) Weed / Mussel Spat Collecting, Storage, Transport and Seeding COP into place.
Project Update | February 2013
In August we reported to MPI that there is a risk that the project will be delayed if spat is not washed up on Ninety Mile Beach during the reporting milestones. Unfortunately, spat did not arrive and we were unable to make the second trip up North and because of this the testing at the Havelock Wharf and on farms remains incomplete. MPI have agreed to extend the project until the end of June 2013, in the hope that we can make the second trip when spat is available. The purpose of this trip is to introduce data loggers which record temperature and humidity levels during transport. Hopefully recording survival at the Havelock Wharf and on farms can then be completed.
In November 2012 the MFA Executive Committee approved the “Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa A Tohe) Weed / Mussel Spat Collecting, Storage, Transport and Seeding Code of Practice” This has now been distributed to all MFA members and is available on the MFA website. Just click on the Ninety Mile Beach Spat QA Project Page.
To date, much has been learnt from the project with the main realization that we have a lack of recorded knowledge regarding spat collection, transport and its on farm retention. There is strong interest and a need for future projects to continue where this one has had to finish. With the development and distribution of the ‘Mussel Spat Stress Test Kit’ testing can continue and results can be recorded by individuals and farmers.
It is recommended that farmers implement the “Ninety Mile Beach (Te Oneroa A Tohe) Weed / Mussel Spat Collecting, Storage, Transport and Seeding COP” in order to optimise Kaitaia spat resources.
Project Update | October 2012
The first milestone of this project has been reached and submitted to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
Project Update | August 2012
In early July 2012, 5 people (plus one addition from Coromandel) of the Ninety Mile Beach Spat QA working group travelled to Houhora to demonstrate and put in place the stain test for measuring stress levels in beach collected spat.
The group was lucky enough to experience a fresh landing of spat on Ninety Mile Beach.
A meeting with collectors and the working group was held, the stress test was demonstrated to the collectors in the field on the newly landed spat and kits were given out for future use, the testing system was adopted by the collectors and has been put into use with new spat collections.
The collection, packaging and transportation methods were observed, as a result draft protocols and procedures have been compiled to make up a draft COP for Kaitaia Spat collecting, handling, storing, packaging and seeding onto the farms.
Interest in the project has grown. Now have parties from quota owner company (GLM9 Ltd), Coromandel, Coromandel Marine Farmers Assn and Kawhai receiving information / progress reports and participating as able.
The next step of the project is for the farmers to start recording exactly what is happening to the spat from when the spat arrives at the wharf until it is seeded, data loggers will also be introduced so temperature and humidity readings can be taken during the entire process.