Mussels promoted to fight toxic algae bloom

2:17 pm on 14 December 2022

By David Hill, Local Democracy reporter

Green-lipped mussels.

The mussels idea is based on the Revive the Gulf project, which Auckland Council supports in the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: NIWA/Rebekah Parsons-King

Mussels could soon be used to fight algae bloom in Canterbury's waterways.

Christchurch company Kōrure New Zealand plans to run a campaign next year to promote the farming of green-lipped mussels to address the issue of toxic algae bloom in Canterbury's waterways.

In a presentation to an Environment Canterbury meeting today, Kōrure New Zealand chief operating officer Sam Park said studies had shown mussels could help clean up waterways.

The idea was based on the Revive the Gulf project, which Auckland Council was supporting in the Hauraki Gulf.

Mussels were also used in Europe and the United States to fight algae bloom.

A mussel farm with 670,000 mussels could help a river or small lake return to safe water standards, she said.

A number of waterways around Canterbury, including the Waimakariri River, Lake Pegasus and Lake Rotorua (near Kaikōura), have issues with algae bloom.

Algae bloom, also known as cyanobacteria, is poisonous to humans and to animals, with pet dogs known to have died.

''This project is a much bigger project than a small, private company can handle on its own, so we are looking for council support.''

Park said Kōrure New Zealand worked with green-lipped mussels to develop its mussel oil products, but studies showed any breed of mussels could be used to tackle algae bloom.

Mussels were able to be used in freshwater and in marine environments.

Park said the mussels could be removed when a waterway returned to a safe level to avoid the displacement of other species.

While the mussels could be treated to be safe for consumption, she said the intention was to not allow harvesting during the treatment process.

Mana Whenua would be consulted with before the project was launched.

Kōrure New Zealand was founded by Park and her brother Ron Park, when they were students at the University of Canterbury.

The business runs environmental projects alongside its commercial activities.

Councillors instructed council staff to prepare a report.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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