Kaitangata’s salmon hatchery is invested in upgrades as New Zealand aquaculture grows for a global market.
Last month the hatchery had metres of heavy-wall PE pipe installed between their facilities and the Clutha river, enabling a greater draw of water for an increasing number of fish.
‘‘We’re currently taking about half the water allowed by our permit but the new pipes can increase that,’’ site manager Trevor Slattery said.
‘‘Water is pumped continuously from the river through the farm and so it’s always clean and fresh. We have Otago Regional Council test the discharge and found Kai (hatchery) has zero impact on river water quality.’’
The Kaitangata farm originated with ICI Watties food company and has been on-site since the infancy of New Zealand salmon farming in the early 1980s.
Presently, most of Kai’s production is infant fish or smolt which are transported when they weigh about 25g to facilities including sea-pens in Stewart Island.
Salmon’s life cycle lasts three years and most of the mature fish are harvested for the market at about 4.5kg but many become brood stock and return to Kaitangata full of eggs.
‘‘We collect the roe and fertilise it and it takes about 49 days for them to hatch in ten degree water.’’
The fry spend about another 50 days in the hatchery until their yolk sac is finished and they are consuming feed which is graded to fish bite-size to reduce waste and water pollution.
‘‘The better we can mimic nature in optimum conditions the better the end product. Research and development into that is basically continuous as well as improving operational sustainability.’’
Successive governments have been encouraging salmon farms like Sanford Kaitangata towards ambitious aquaculture goals, and developments at the site are moving towards retaining more stock for on-site breeding to contain the entire life cycle.
‘‘I’d say the industry has been a bit secretive and jealous but over the last 10 years we’ve been working together to improve New Zealand’s presence in the market. Right now Kai has four full-time staff but there’s a newer plant coming up in Southland and I’d say the workforce might have to double or triple around the country as the industry expands.
‘‘I like the variety of work from the different stages of the life cycle. It’s really rewarding to manage growth just from eggs through to high numbers of big healthy fish. I still love that after 30 years.’’
‘The better we can mimic nature in optimum conditions the better the end product. Research and development into that is basically continuous as well as improving operational sustainability.