Northland is an important contributor to New Zealand’s fish and aquaculture production, providing 10 percent of the national value of the sector.
Northland has an extensive coastline and pure marine environment, with accessible coastal land, sheltered harbours, moderate offshore conditions and a mild climate that favour the production of high-value temperate water species.
The region also benefits from local processing capacity and its proximity to Auckland and export markets, and New Zealand’s reputation for food safety and sustainability.
Aquaculture is the cultivation of seafood in a managed environment, either on shore or at sea. With the decline in wild fish stocks worldwide, there is increasing global demand for high quality farmed seafood. As one of the world’s finest locations for marine farming, Northland is well placed to respond to this demand. Northland’s aquatic environment is largely free from pathogens and inorganic toxins, meaning locally grown shellfish do not require extra seawater purification before processing - a rare advantage for aquaculture operations and seafood businesses.
Northland has around 270 hectares of developed aquaculture area. Most of this is for Pacific oysters, which are predominantly farmed in Northland, with a small area for greenshell mussels and a single commercial paua farm at Bream Bay. The majority of oyster farms are located in Whangaroa Harbour, Bay of Islands, Houhora, Kaipara and Parengarenga Harbour. Mussel spat collection in New Zealand, and farms throughout New Zealand are reliant on it. There is also a large scale mussel farm on the northern side of Houhora Harbour.
Northland is also home to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) facility - a world-leading fisheries and aquaculture research centre. NIWA’s base at Bream Bay Aquaculture Park is Australasia’s largest aquaculture research and production facility. The $20 million centre boasts New Zealand’s largest team of aquaculture specialists, and supports a growing aquaculture industry throughout New Zealand. The site forms an international hub for aquaculture and marine science research and development, with NIWA and its partners hosting researchers from universities and institutes throughout the wor