SPATnz aims to selectively breed high-value shellfish. Sanford subsidiary Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Limited (SPATnz) is co-investing with the Crown in this PGP programme.
Through the reliance on wild-caught spat, New Zealand's Greenshell™ mussel industry struggles to realise its full potential and deliver a consistent supply of mussels with the characteristics demanded by premium markets.
The aim of this programme is to deliver benefits by:
domesticating the Greenshell™ mussel
developing a wide range of selectively bred, high-performing breeds for industry.
To deliver what the industry and market requires, breeding of mussels in captivity is essential. Wild spat sources allow little control over the timing and quantity of spat supply or the characteristics of the crop. Selectively-bred hatchery spat can be produced year round from carefully selected parents.
Traditional selective breeding continues to deliver huge gains in virtually every primary production sector on land, and with the help of this programme, can now do the same for Greenshell mussel farming.
Research under this programme will focus on selective breeding and the development of hatchery technology to produce improved spat at the large scale required by industry.
SPATnz has operated a pilot-scale mussel hatchery since early 2015, and successfully developed methods for spat production at one-third of target scale. Those methods are now being scaled up to enable spat production at the level required to deliver benefits widely.
This technology and enhanced capability will be a breakthrough for our mussel industry, and provide significant economic returns.
Great improvement in the spat numbers through the first few months on spat farms.
Hatchery mussels have shown substantially higher crop yields than expected for wild crop.
Growth monitoring shows that hatchery mussels grow faster than wild mussels across all growing conditions tested.
A comparison of hatchery bred mussels with wild mussels from the 2 predominant sources of wild spat – Golden Bay ("GB") and Kaitaia ("K") shows the 3 hatchery strains gained 67% more length and 86% more weight than Kaitaia wild, and 36% more length and 29% more weight than Golden Bay wild mussel.
In order to meet the requirement of growing demand of hatchery bred mussels, planning for a second Hatchery is being carried out.
SPAT NZ is one of the Kiwinet award finalists in "commercial impact category".
An independent expert review of the selective breeding program declared the programmes as "compares very favourably to other aquaculture breeding programs on a global scale." and "The fundamental science and design aspects are sound, and satisfy the requirements of a modern selective breeding program."
Programme start: November 2012 Length: 7 years PGP funding: $13 million Industry funding:: $13 million Crown funding paid out to programme for work done to 30 June 2019: $10,650,426 Commercial partners: Sanford Ltd Estimated potential economic benefits to NZ: The direct potential benefit to GDP of this programme is approximately $81 million by 2026. If the technology developed through this programme is adopted more broadly throughout the sector, GDP could increase by $193 million.