13 Oct 2022

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon to build New Zealand's first land-based salmon farm

3:40 pm on 13 October 2022
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon land-based farm concept illustration.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon land-based farm concept illustration. Photo: Supplied / Mount Cook Alpine Salmon

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon has announced it will construct the country's first land-based salmon farm.

The project was launched today in Twizel, Canterbury, with board chair Sir Bill English and Minister of Oceans and Fisheries David Parker in attendance.

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon has reached capacity in its hydro-canals but needed to expand to keep up with demand.

Chief executive David Cole said the new farm would at least double the company's annual production to between 6000 and 8000 tonnes of fish.

It would also aim to have zero waste, returning 100 percent of the water it took back to source, Cole said.

"The idea of perhaps a wasabi farm, for example, which is a good pairing with salmon, will help to purify that water and then we envisage it passing through a wetlands area before we return it back in its purest form to the lakes," he said.

The farm will cost $16.7 million to build, with the government committing $6.7m from the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

"Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high-quality, high-value product," said MPI investment programmes director Steve Penno.

"It will build on our international reputation as a producer of high-quality aquaculture products, and develop another opportunity to create a nutritionally-rich protein product that can be offered to consumers."

Global monitoring of the salmon industry by Ernst & Young suggested by 2040, 25 percent of the world's salmon would come from land-based fish farms, Cole said.

The project will take six years and will include two types of fish.

"We are also planning to introduce a new species of salmon to New Zealand, which is the sockeye salmon," Cole said.

"We don't quite know how king salmon might perform in a land-based farm so the idea of the sockeye, which we know to school very well, is a risk mitigation as well as an opportunity for New Zealand."

Mount Cook Alpine Salmon's product was originally southern sockeye salmon until its supplier changed its breed of fish, he said.

Its location is yet to be determined but Mount Cook Alpine Salmon has confirmed it will be in either the Waitaki or Mackenzie District.

The site is expected to be chosen by the end of the year.

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