The Marine Farming Association (MFA) and its members are committed to the environment and since the 1990s the MFA has operated an active Environmental Programme.

In the early days this was focused on cleaning up and recording industry and recreational debris collected on the beaches in the Marlborough Sounds.

This programme was later extended to include Golden Bay and Tasman Bay and the scope was widened to include all ‘on water’ marine farming activities, including minimising the impact on the environment from:

Debris from marine farming activities
Noise levels from marine farming activities
Pollution and emissions from industry vessels
Waste taken to landfill
The Environmental Programme is guided by the ‘Top of the South Environmental Strategy’ and managed by the MFA’s Environment Committee. The Guiding Principles are:

To minimise the impact of marine farming activities on the wider environment and community in which we operate
To minimise generic concerns which from time to time may be expressed by other stakeholders and users of the Marlborough Sounds, Golden Bay and Tasman Bay in respect of marine farming
The programme includes a large number of volunteers from the marine farming industry. Also the MFA employs environmental mentors in Marlborough and Tasman Bay/Golden Bay. These mentors work with farmers to ensure they are complying within the industry standards.

The ‘army’ of volunteers are made up of MFA members and marine farming companies that donate their time, vessels and equipment to monitor on a roster basis ‘collector’ areas in the Top of the South, they also participate in regular beach clean ups.

The MFA also employs an Environment Programme Manager who oversees the implementation of the Top of the South Environmental Strategy and works with industry operators and other stakeholders to ensure the objectives of the Strategy are met. This work includes reporting on the activities of the participants and monitoring and cleaning up key areas of the Top of the South.

Because we know how much Kiwis love the outdoors and how important the environment is, the beach cleans extend further than marine farm debris and we collect all debris including recreational debris.

The MFA also operates an Environmental Hotline for use by members of the Association and the general public. If you have any matters of concern in respect to the marine farming industry’s environmental performance in the Top of the South Island please call this number.

Marlborough Shellfish Quality Programme (MSQP)
New Zealand’s aquaculture industry has built its reputation on seafood produced in a clean safe environment and leads the world in its quality management programmes.
When we take food from the ocean there are risks arising from the biotoxins, bacteria and viruses. We promote our seafood as being healthy and produced in pristine water. Therefore we have an obligation both commercially and morally to ensure that claim is backed by a rigorous food safety programme. Our programmes are considered the most robust in the world and we regularly host overseas industry representatives looking to learn from our systems and leading edge technologies.

Many shellfish such as mussels, cockles and scallops are filter feeders meaning they literally filter their food from the sea water by pumping the water through their gills. A typical mussel filters 360 L of water each day. As a result it concentrates any micro organisms, chemicals or toxins present in the environment. To ensure food safety both shellfish and water are monitored for
Heavy metals – (industrial pollution – more of a concern overseas)

The industry funds just on $1,000,000 of sampling and testing each year in the top of the South Island, and that’s before the product reaches the processing plants and under goes additional testing.

There are two unique factors that distinguish our programmes from others around the world. The first is the co-operative approach between industry, scientists and regulators – resulting in continuous improvement, efficiency gains and very high compliance. The second is that the programmes are 100% industry funded in contrast to competing industries overseas where the programmes are funded and operated entirely by Government agencies. New Zealand is divided into 26 delivery centres that are responsible for operating the programme in their own areas. The MSQP delivery centre covers the growing waters from approximately 80% of New Zealand’s aquaculture exports are produced and extends from Port Underwood, Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds and Golden Bay.

Marlborough Shellfish Quality Programme (MSQP) is an incorporated society and is governed by seven elected members of industry plus representatives from the regulatory authority.

Each year we collect and test approximately 6000 water and shellfish samples. Our testing officers are on the water throughout the year in all weather and sea conditions. The programme operates 365 days a year.

For all the testing that is carried out the greatest opportunity for assuring the food safety and acceptable water quality, is to not contaminate the water in the first place.

The MSQP programmes monitor for contamination of both the water and the shellfish.

The aquaculture industry in New Zealand has representation at a number of levels.

The overarching organisation is the New Zealand Aquaculture Council which comprises representatives from the four major specie groups. Other organisations which have an interest in aquaculture, either at a national or local level, have non-voting observer status.
As the body representing the interests of the marine farming industry in the top of the South the MFA is such an associated organisation.

New Zealand Aquaculture Limited
Chief Executive – Gary Hooper

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NZ Salmon Farmers Association Inc (NZSFA)
Chair: Mark Gillard

NZ Abalone Farmers Association Inc (NZAFA)
Chair: Jimmy Miller

NZ Mussel Industry Council (NZMIC)
Chair: Peter Vitasovich
Executive Officer: Rebecca Clarkson

NZ Oyster Industry Association Inc (NZOIA)
Chair: Callum McCallum

Associated Organisations (Non-voting Observers)
Marine Farming Association Members (MFA) Contact: Graeme Coates,
Executive Officer

Te Ohu Kai Moana (TOKM)
Contact: Craig Lawson,
Seafood Resource Analyst

NZ Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) Contact: Nici Gibbs, Policy Manager

Coramandel Marine Farmers Association (CMFA) Contact: Gilbert James, Chair

NZAqC Water Quality Committee
Contact: Dorothy-Jean McCoubrey, Food Safety Adviser, Aquaculture New Zealand

Seafood Industry Training Organisation (SITO)

The Queen Charlotte College Aquaculture Academy (QCCAA) was initiated during 2002 as a partnership between Queen Charlotte College and the Marine Farming Association. The mandate of the Academy is to advance the skill levels and understanding of students attending and, when possible, to carry out meaningful research on issues relating to the aquaculture industry.

To download a brochure about the Queen Charlotte College Aquaculture Academy Click HERE

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The aquaculture industry in New Zealand has a bold future – and not just because of our ideal coastal topography, weather conditions and clean, unpolluted water. The industry’s commitment to training is a key part of future growth and development. Seafood Industry Training Organisation (SITO) ensures that opportunities for training and ongoing research and development abound, keeping up with the exciting pace of marine farming. SITO is strongly focused on responding to the aquaculture industry’s skill needs and works closely with industry representatives. This means individuals, businesses and the industry all benefit from relevant, industry-specific training. And the industry can move forward readily to meet ever-increasing market demands.

SITO and Aquaculture – where to find out more
If you want to know more about what training is available for you or for your business, visit the website at


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Jobs in the New Zealand Aquaculture industry
People in the industry work as farmers, harvesters, divers, biologists, water systems engineers, hatchery technicians and managers, marine biotechnologists, biotoxin monitoring specialists, spat collectors, seaweed gatherers, marine ecologists, aquaculture nutritionist, aquatic health specialists, breeding technicians, researchers, product designers, marketing, suppliers, retailers, processors…to name a few! There are also people who work for aquaculture businesses in administrative and support roles, marketing and management or within the processing plants that bridge the gap between the ocean and the market place.

And the great thing about SITO and industry training is that there are opportunities to grow and develop your role in aquaculture while you’re at work. No student loans here!
Contact SITO today and catch your future now

Mussel Harvesting, Havelock circa 1960