Protecting aquaculture from biosecurity risks

We want everyone working in aquaculture to help protect New Zealand against harmful pests and diseases. Find biosecurity resources and guidance, and learn about our work and research on aquaculture biosecurity.

Preparing for aquatic pests and diseases

Compared to other countries, New Zealand is relatively free from aquatic pests and diseases. However, it's important that we're ready for possible biosecurity threats. Once pests and diseases are introduced into waterways, it can be difficult to stop them spreading.

We're working with the aquaculture industry to improve biosecurity management to:

  • prevent the introduction of pests and diseases
  • respond quickly and effectively if they do get into our waterways.

Biosecurity guidance for aquaculture farmers

The Aquaculture biosecurity handbook is a quick guide to reduce the risks of pests and diseases affecting fish farms and the environment. The handbook has 7 steps you can use in your daily fish farming operations.

The handbook covers aquaculture for:

  • food
  • fisheries enhancement (such as adding trout to the natural environment)
  • research facilities holding and moving aquatic species
  • ornamental fish, corals and aquatic plants.

Biosecurity handbook for farmers [PDF, 7.2 MB]

More detailed information on aquaculture biosecurity management

Our technical paper has more detailed aquaculture biosecurity management options and background information. It covers salmon, mussels, oysters, pāua, and trout.

Technical paper: Options to strengthen on-farm biosecurity management form commercial and non-commercial aquaculture [PDF, 2.7 MB]

Another document, Managing biosecurity risk for business benefit summarises:

  • current farming practices
  • on-farm biosecurity management
  • farmer awareness of biosecurity management
  • areas needing improvement.

Managing biosecurity risk for business benefit [PDF, 3.4 MB]

Research to help prepare industry against future pests

From 2010 to 2011, we ran the Aquaculture Readiness Data (ARD) project. This project collected information on marine and freshwater (land-based) farm:

  • locations
  • stock
  • water movements.

We used the information to model how aquatic pests and diseases might spread in our waterways over time.

Identifying areas where pests and diseases could spread (called "defined dispersion areas") will help us manage future biosecurity threats.

Find out more

Fact sheet: Aquaculture – biosecurity preparedness [PDF, 720 KB]

Fact sheet: Defining dispersion areas for aquatic pests and diseases [PDF, 599 KB]

Fact sheet: The need for quality data [PDF, 692 KB]

Aquaculture Readiness Data project report – phase 1 [PDF, 222 KB]

Aquaculture Readiness Data project report – phase 2 [PDF, 8.6 MB]

Partnering with industry to manage biosecurity

The Government Industry Agreement (GIA) brings government and industry groups together to manage pests and diseases. Aquaculture NZ is a member of the GIA.

The GIA focuses on pest and disease threats that could badly damage our primary industries and the environment. Under the GIA, industries agree to joint decision-making and cost sharing with MPI for biosecurity readiness and response activities.

Government Industry Agreement: Biosecurity

Who to contact

If you have questions about aquaculture biosecurity, email

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