Protecting aquaculture from biosecurity risks

Find out how MPI is working with the aquaculture industry to help protect our fisheries and the environment from pests and diseases.

Preparing for aquatic pests and diseases

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

MPI is 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.

Aquaculture Readiness Data project

The Aquaculture Readiness Data (ARD) project looked at New Zealand's readiness if an unwanted aquatic pest or disease was introduced.

From 2010 to 2011, MPI collected information on marine and freshwater farm locations, stock, and water movements. The information was used to model how aquatic pests and diseases might spread in our waterways over time.

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

Find out more

Biosecurity guidance for fish farmers

MPI has guidance material available for fish farmers to help manage biosecurity risks.

Biosecurity handbook for farmers

The Aquaculture biosecurity handbook is a quick guide for fish farmers to reduce the risks of pests and diseases affecting their farms and the environment. The handbook has 7 steps for farmers to use in their daily 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]

Biosecurity management technical reference

This document has more detailed aquaculture biosecurity management options and background information. It covers salmon, mussels, oysters, pāua and trout. MPI is developing similar documents for other aquaculture species.

Technical reference document [PDF, 2.7 MB]

Current status of aquaculture biosecurity

Managing biosecurity risk for business benefit summarises current farming practices, on-farm biosecurity management, farmer awareness of biosecurity management, and areas needing improvement.

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

Sustainable management system – A+

A+ is a sustainable management system for the New Zealand aquaculture industry that ensures farms are operating in a healthy, sustainable way. A+ was developed by Aquaculture New Zealand under MPI's Sustainable Farming Fund. The A+ system provides the industry with:

  • standards and procedures for sustainable farming
  • tools for assessing farm performance
  • independent audits of farm performance.

Find out more

Government Industry Agreement

The Government Industry Agreement (GIA) brings government and industry groups together to manage pests and diseases 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.

Aquaculture NZ is negotiating a GIA with the government on behalf of the aquaculture sector.

Who to contact

If you have questions about aquaculture biosecurity readiness, email

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