Ben Smith This is one clever item.
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.
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.
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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.
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
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