Hatchery International

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A first for breeding blue cod

July 11, 2017  By Quentin Dodd

Plant and Food Research, New Zealand reported early in May that scientists there have managed to successfully breed blue cod for the first time, a milestone that may eventually support the development of a new aquaculture sector for the country.

In association with Ngāi Tahu Seafood Ltd, the Seafood Technologies team at Plant & Food Research in Nelson are investigating how to breed different species of native fish in captivity, building knowledge of the conditions required for the fish to successfully reproduce.

Chief Executive of Ngāi Tahu Seafood, Joseph Thomas, says the outcomes of this programme could have real commercial benefit for the seafood industry.

“By enhancing our understanding of blue cod breeding we may be able to identify ways to replenish and strengthen our fishing stocks, which will have a positive impact on customary, recreational and commercial availability. It will help us sustain the health of our fisheries,” says Joseph.

Around 2000 hatchlings have been raised, most of which are now around 5 to 7cm long. Their parents were wild blue cod from the Marlborough Sounds.

The team has been studying both the parents and the hatchlings to determine how they respond to stocking densities, population structure, light, water temperature and different food sources, in order to develop the best protocol for raising the fish at Plant & Food Research’s new fish hatchery in Nelson.

Plant & Food Research’s Science Group Leader, Seafood Production, Alistair Jerrett says, “Having our first population of blue cod juveniles is an exciting development and shows proof-of-concept for raising blue cod for aquaculture or perhaps re-stocking. The next step is figuring out the best way to scale-up the hatchery to one of commercial potential.”

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