Scientists manage to breed Greenshell™ mussels in captivity
2017-04-11 17:12:52   copyfrom:    hits:

Greenshell mussels (Photo: Stock File)NEW ZEALANDTuesday, April 11, 2017,01:10 (GMT + 9)Through the use of ingenio

Greenshell mussels. (Photo: Stock File)


Click on the flag for more information about New ZealandNEW ZEALAND 
Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 01:10 (GMT + 9)


Through the use of ingenious methods, a team of scientists has been successful in getting Greenshell™ mussels to breed in captivity and their efforts could soon be worth NZD 200 million (USD 138.5 million) a year to the New Zealand economy.

These methods -- warm baths and vibrating devices -- have made it possible for the first crop from the SPATNZ hatchery to be ready to harvest and to eat, after years of investigative work in Nelson.

“Normally these mussels breed in the wild and we wait for their babies, known as spat, to wash up on beaches attached to seaweed or land on catch ropes. That made life difficult for New Zealand mussel farmers, who had to cross their fingers and hope they would have enough spat for their farms from year to year,” pointed out Rodney Roberts, a Scientist and SPATNZ boss.

Roberts explained that experiments have been made with lighting, different bath temperatures and sounds and they finally settled on a combination of light, temperature and small vibrations that seems to really get the mussels going, encouraging them to produce maximum quantities of sperm and eggs.

“We are now able to produce billions of mussel eggs each month and the great news is that these are growing into strong, faster growing and more consistent mussels,” the scientist stressed.

For his part, Chairman of Aquaculture New Zealand Bruce Hearn expressed hopes about what it means for the industry.

“There are a lot of aspects to wild spat, it differs in quantity and quality, you never know when it is coming and when you can get it so there is no certainty. One of the advantages of hatchery spat is that we will know when we are getting it and we can plan for it. That will make a huge difference. It may be hard to appreciate just how much difference it will make, but that is a huge advantage on its own,” Hearn said.

Moreover, Aquaculture New Zealand CEO Gary Hooper pointed out that hatchery spat is a game changer for the industry, as it opens up all sorts of opportunities around selective breeding and product development in high value areas like nutraceuticals and superfoods.

The SPATNZ hatchery and the science behind it is the result of a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and New Zealand’s oldest and biggest seafood company, Sanford, through the Primary Growth Partnership.

For his part, Sanford CEO, Volker Kuntzsch, who is a scientist himself, stressed that his firm and its contract growers will initially benefit from the research and technology but a requirement of this Primary Growth Partnership programme is that in time the technology will be shared with everyone in the industry.


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