New Zealand's Waikato region aims to double its aquaculture value

The Waikato Regional Council has unveiled its ambitions to become a world-class leader in aquaculture, and to generate $180 million in export value by 2044.
Ngarunui beach in Raglan, Waikato, New Zealand

Ngarunui beach in Raglan, Waikato, New Zealand

Photo: Adobe Stock.

New Zealand's Waikato region could transform into an aquaculture industry powerhouse.

That’s the vision endorsed by the Waikato Regional Council, in an ambitious strategy aiming to double the value of the region's aquaculture exports to $180 million by 2044.

The initiative, named Growing Together – Whakatupu Ngātahi, was collaboratively developed with contributions from local industry, iwi, and government bodies.

It seeks to establish Waikato as a world-class leader in aquaculture by emphasizing high-value seafood production balanced with community, cultural and environmental wellbeing, in addition to industry diversification, including new ventures like seaweed farming.

Exploring new sustainable aquaculture methods on land and at sea

Located in the upper North Island of New Zealand, the Waikato region is known for its important coastal and wetland ecosystems. With 1,138 km of coastline, the region is also home to New Zealand’s longest river as well as the country’s largest lake, Lake Taupō.

The regional strategy outlines a growth plan that includes optimizing current aquaculture zones and exploring new sustainable farming methods both on land and at sea. Implementation will involve the council and the Waikato Regional Aquaculture Group.

“This strategy is our blueprint to grow our aquaculture industry, focusing on producing high value seafood while also being mindful of the region’s environment and communities,” said Waikato regional councillor and committee chair Warren Maher in a press announcement.

New value-added products on the agenda include seaweed

The councillors acknowledged the need for the region to consider activities that provide for new value-added products, like seaweed, and the diversification of the industry into new markets.

The council has also organized a hearings panel for submissions on the Proposed Waikato Regional Coastal Plan, with hearings scheduled from late 2024 to early 2025.

The initiative echoes sentiments expressed recently by New Zealand’s Oceans and Fisheries Minister, Shane Jones, who called growing the nation's aquaculture sector as “a win for all New Zealanders”.

“It provides jobs and economic growth for the regions and increases export potential for the country. This Coalition Government wants to see aquaculture grow to a multibillion-dollar industry,” Jones said.

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