Koura industry interest grows

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NATIONAL and international interest continues to grow in New Zealand’s fledgling freshwater crayfish industry. Forestry company Ernslaw One diversified into farming koura five years ago, sparked by the drop of log prices during the global financial crisis.
A brainstorming session was held at a staff meeting to identify what else could be done on forest land to create income and raising koura emerged as a feasible possibility.
The company now has permits to farm koura in thousands of existing fire ponds and new ponds in its forests spread throughout Southland and Otago. The slow-growing koura, which take three to four years to reach maturity, are sold locally and exported.
At the recent Southland Community Environment Awards in Invercargill, Ernslaw One won the top award in the commercial category for the initiative.
Receiving the trophy was ‘‘very unexpected and very humbling’’ and it was nice to be acknowledged for all the hard work that had been involved, aquaculture manager John Hollows said.
A Sustainable Farming Fund grant helped with more in-depth scientific research on ponds, including identifying ways of significantly increasing the carrying capacity, and enabled development of a best-practice guide for koura farming.
The guide, for those interested in getting started in koura farming, was recently released and there had been a ‘‘fantastic’’ response already to it, Mr Hollows said.
It covered all aspects of koura farming including biology, pond design, harvesting and regulatory requirements. Already, there was interest from at least two other parties looking at koura ventures and he was excited about that, saying the potential of the industry was huge.
The more support there was, the greater the ability to possibly work together and supply overseas markets. Consistency of supply was important, he said.
Koura were being dispatched next week for judging in the New Zealand Food Awards. The winners will be announced at a function in Auckland in October.
— Otago Daily Times

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