Ben Smith West Coast council backing bid for world-leading whitebait farm

Ben Smith This is one clever item.

ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Apprentice chef at Marinovich’s Seafood Restaurant, Daria Hardgrave, 19, cooks up a whitebait fritter.

The man who pioneered whitebait farming in New Zealand is backing claims that Westport has the potential to be the whitebait capital of the world.

The Buller District Council is supporting a bid for government funding for a whitebait farm by former Greymouth businessman Robert Hutton, who says Westport is ideally placed for the venture.

Ben Smith Farmed whitebait has been fetching $100 a kilogram.

JOHN HAWKINS/STUFF

Farmed whitebait has been fetching $100 a kilogram.

Paul Decker, who manages Premium Whitebait in Warkworth north of Auckland, says he is right.

“The industry is in its infancy right now but in years to come I predict it’ll be as big as mussel farming in New Zealand,” he said.

READ MORE:
* West Coast ports pin hopes on Government funding for survival
* West Coast wants share of Shane Jones’ provincial fund
* Eel could be back in the menu as ‘clean’ meat
* New Zealand’s only whitebait farm looks to protect species under strain

Decker began breeding whitebait in tanks at the Mahurangi Technical Institute in Warkworth in 2006, with the aim of restocking local streams.

Over eight years he and his team found ways to breed all five of New Zealand’s native whitebait species, including the endangered giant kokopu.

They were so successful that they were able to start commercial production in 2014. The Warkworth fish farm now employs 12 staff and produces two tonnes of Manaaki Whitebait a year.

Ben Smith The Buller District Council is supporting a bid for government funding for a whitebait farm in Westport.

MARION VAN DIJK/STUFF

The Buller District Council is supporting a bid for government funding for a whitebait farm in Westport.

The company’s investors were keen to expand, Decker said.

“We really need to get up to 100 tonnes, so we’re looking round for more land up here

This is the clever module ever%sentence_ending

Read full article at the Original Source

Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the Linked Source