A BLUFF paua farm could evolve into an aquaculture facility for education, research and development.
A five-year memorandum of understanding has been signed by Bluff Ltd, which owns the Ocean Beach site, and Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
Bluff Ltd chief scientist and AUT marine biologist Professor Andrea Alfaro said aquaculture was a growing industry.
While at present the New Zealand aquaculture industry generated $600 million in revenue per year, the Government’s Aquaculture Strategy, released last year, set a target of increasing this to $3 billion in revenue by 2035 Prof Alfaro said this was achievable.
More than 500,000 juvenile paua were growing and the farm was on target to produce its first major harvest in 2023. The first group of students would visit the site in coming months.
The site was hoped to be developed further than a paua farm to include other species such as a salmon hatchery and Bluff oysters, which would provide jobs to the region, as well as a future in eco-tourism, with accommodation and hospitality.
“If we can continue to develop the production with research underpinning it, we’ll continue to grow in this specialty market.”
Research would enable sustainable growth and innovative practices and technologies.
She said Bluff’s water provided cold and clean water – ideal with the thermal stresses of global warming – and the region could be revolutionised as an aquaculture hub.
The Ocean Beach-AUT collaboration included education, research projects, staff and student exchange programmes, internships, post-doctoral research fellowships and funding applications.
Ocean Beach managing director Blair Wolfgram said there was a need for industries such as aquaculture to sustainably grow export earnings and create high-skilled jobs and opportunities.
Prof Alfaro said it was about re-igniting the history and roots of the area.
“The people who live there are intimately familiar with these industries, it would make sense for the growth to happen where you can utilise that historical capacity.”