16 Sep 2020

NZ First promises to fund marine farms and science

5:49 pm on 16 September 2020

New Zealand First is pledging $100 million to support marine farming and $25 million for a new Marine Biology Facility in Tauranga, if elected into government.

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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters at a campaign event in Tauranga. Photo: RNZ/ Simon Rogers

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the new marine biology facility would enable scientific research that would benefit the country.

"This will allow us to learn, grow and develop skills that create opportunities to add value to exports," Peters said.

The announcement follows a pledge by the party last week to provide $100 million to Aquacorp to support off-shore marine farming. This money would come from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund or the Provincial Growth Fund.

"Aquaculture has demonstrated immense potential and we need to back it with the science and people too," said Peters.

"The science and innovation with seaweed as an agri-feed to reduce carbon emissions or used as a biofuel or fertilizer is being worked on and is critical for this sector to grow and develop."

The government's Provincial Growth Fund has invested $37.9m into aquaculture over the past three years.

The industry made $600m in annual sales in 2018 and provided more than 3000 jobs, Peters said.

This could grow to $3 billion by 2035 with innovations to maximise value through products such as premium salmon and mussel oils and powders, extending land-based hatcheries, and expanding aquaculture in the sea with open-ocean farming, he said.

"New Zealand First Policy is for the Crown to underwrite the expansion into deep sea aquaculture of offshore marine farming in collaboration with other stakeholders.

"It will ensure that off-shore marine growing areas are not privatized for the benefit exclusively of private or foreign investors.

"This will ensure that the Crown gets a return on behalf of the public for commercial use of this marine open space," Peters said.

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