The Greenshell mussel industry in Marlborough earns around $170m in export earnings each year. The oversettlement of blue mussels on mussel farms is detrimental to the mussel farming industry in the region and it will be of great benefit to the industry if a productive model for oversettlement can be established, farmers could then adjust their farming techniques to avoid these oversettlements.

Download Sampling Reports here
Pelorus Sound Trip 1
Pelorus Sound Trip 2
Pelorus Sound Data Graphs (xls)
Pelorus Graphs 2012-2013 Year to Date Results (xls)
Port Underwood & East Bay Trip
Port Underwood & East Bay Graphs (xls)
Port Underwood & East Bay Graphs 2012-2013 Year to Date Results (Word)

Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) Application.
The Marine Farming Association lodged an application with the SFF to further enhance our current spat programme. This application was successful in attracting government funding. The project will increase the sampling areas for blue mussels to better predict the extent of blue mussel abundance in the Marlborough Sounds.

Throughout the project the Association will be better able to advise its members of the abundance of blue mussel spat in the water column which will in turn enable farmers to avoid over settlement by temporarily adjusting their farming methods.

FOLLOW OUR PROGRESS: Click here to read regular project updates.

Why has the MFA done this?

To develop a practical tool for mussel farmers to enable them to better manage their farming activities by reducing costs, rework and loss of growing space.
The collection of baseline data will overtime show trends which may be related to changes in environmental conditions.
An added benefit may be the identification of Greenshell mussel spat collection sites outside of the current collection areas.
At the conclusion of the three year project the MFA will better understand the distribution, abundance and farming implications associated with the over settlement of blue mussels. A review of the project with options for further work/continuation will be undertaken in the third year of the project.
What are the foreseeable benefits to MFA and its Members?
The data collected in the Blue Mussel Over-Settlement Project aims to help understand the abundance of blue mussels in the Marlborough Sounds by;

Not seeding greenshell mussels at peak blue mussel spawning times
Sinking spat and growing lines to avoid blue mussel settlement
Reducing on-vessel and factory grading out of blue mussels, thus reducing the level of blue mussels being dumped in landfills
Trialling of innovative methods to manage blue mussel over settlement
Increasing the production of Greenshell mussels using the same farming space
Reducing the level of vessel use for rework and operational inefficiencies
Increased knowledge through the collection and build-up of blue mussel spat collection data will allow the scientific experts to develop trends and understand further the behaviour of blue mussel spat.
The information from this programme will be shared with all members of the Marine Farming Association (representing 95-98% of mussel farmers) in the Top of the South.

The Greenshell mussel industry earns around $200m in export earnings each year. The seed material (spat) currently used to stock mussel farms comes from a number of sources; Ninety Mile Beach (60%) and Golden Bay and Tasman Bay (40%). There is a growing interest in hatchery grown spat.
Ninety Mile Beach (Kaitaia) spat is vital to the mussel farming industry throughout NZ. It is essential that these supplies continue and that the resource is sustainably managed to ensure future supplies. It is also important that the quality of spat received by the farmers is in the best possible condition for on growing. It is a major cost to mussel farmers if spat is purchased, seeded out and fails to grow.

Spat on Ninety Mile BeachSustainable Farming Fund (SFF) application.
The Marine Farming Association successfully lodged an application with the SSF to commence on a journey that will in the end provide quality Kaitaia spat to mussel farmers. This will occur through field sampling and the adoption of industry best practices.

FOLLOW OUR PROGRESS: Click here to read regular project updates.

The project aim is to;

Develop a testing regime to assess the viability of spat before it leaves Kaitaia
Develop a testing regime to assess the viability of spat when it reaches the marine farmer and when it is seeded out on the farm
Develop a Code of Practice for the handling of Kaitaia Spat from the beach to the marine farmer
Why has the Industry done this?

The cost of failed spat is significant for farmers and further research into spat viability and mortality has many benefits to the industry.
To embark on a long term process of continuous improvement based on the health of spat throughout the collection, packaging, transportation and seeding processes.
What are the foreseeable benefits to industry?

To ensure other Ninety Mile Beach stakeholders that the industry is harvesting mussel spat in a responsible and sustainable manner
To reduce waste and cost to industry by avoiding the need to rework failed spat
To have assurance that spat being purchased by farmers is healthy and in good condition
To future proof the right to collect beach cast spat from Ninety Mile Beach by exhibiting responsible practices
To better understand the variability’s around the collection and transportation of spat collected off Ninety Mile Beach
To improve the profitability for mussel spat catchers and mussel farmers