30 Jun 2017

Putting the kōura in Kaikōura

From Country Life, 9:23 pm on 30 June 2017
Vince Scully

Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Vince Scully and Mary Shanahan farm kōura (native freshwater crayfish) at Waikōura Springs in Kaikōura.

They started the fish farm about five years ago and, despite a lot of progress, Vince acknowledges he is still on a learning curve when it comes to the crusty critters.

"I killed some crayfish last year by feeding them wheat. I was feeding them soaked oats and then I switched to wheat without realising that they didn't like soaked wheat at all!" he says.

The kōura, that are about 12 centimetres long, sell for $80 a kilogram and are used on seafood platters in local restaurants.

Currently, Vince and Mary use three, 1000 square metre ponds. One is a nursery pond and the other two are 'grow out' ponds. Vince has built an indoor hatchery that he's hoping to have up and running later this year.

A fence, made of recycled tin, surrounds the ponds. Its job is to stop greedy eels from getting into the water. The kōura are also protected from cormorants and other birds by nets, strung up over a structure made from deer fencing.    

Fin fish farming in the ponds at Waikōura Springs is also being explored. "Mullet is my preference, there's also perch and whitebait as well, something that would fit into a pond without eating a crayfish".

Vince used to take tourists on daily tours of Waikōura Springs but, since last November's earthquake, that income stream has dried up and he's had to find extra work to help keep the business afloat.