Mount Cook Alpine Salmon

New Zealand’s Mount Cook Alpine Salmon to build the country’s first land-based salmon farm

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The New Zealand company Mount Cook Alpine Salmon will be the first in its country to build a land-based salmon farm. The project has just been launched in Twizel (Canterbury), in the presence of the chairman of the board of directors, Bill English, and the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker. The fish farm will cost NZD 16.7 million (about USD 9.6) to build, while the government will allocate NZD 6.7 million from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

The company had reached its maximum capacity in its hydroelectric channels and needed to expand to meet demand. The goal of the new farm, which will take six years to build, is to double the company’s annual production to 6,000 to 8,000 tons of fish, David Cole, CEO of Mount Cook Alpine Salmon, told reporters. The company’s intention, moreover, is to generate no waste, returning 100% of the water used to the source.

In Cole’s words, the plan is to create a 1,000-metric-ton sustainable hybrid structure that will use a partial-flow system to emulate the unique conditions of glacier-fed channels. The facility will be designed to optimize energy use by gravity-feeding the water and integrating renewable and energy-efficient solutions.

Demand continues to grow

“The demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to boost the supply of this high quality, high value product,” said MPI’s director of investment programs, Steve Penno.

According to Penno, the initiative “will build on our international reputation as a producer of high-quality aquaculture products, and develop another opportunity to create a nutrient-rich protein product that can be offered to consumers.”

Harvesting two types of fish

The new project was officially unveiled in Twizel, the largest town in the Mackenzie District in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island, and was attended by the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker, who took the opportunity to visit freshwater salmon farms and learn about the company’s plans to build the prototype.

“Although it is not yet known exactly where the new farm will be located, which could be in either the Waitaki or Mackenzie districts, it is known that it will be dedicated to the farming of two types of fish, the company said.”

“We are also planning to introduce a new species of salmon to New Zealand, which is sockeye salmon,” Cole told Radio New Zealand (RNZ). “We don’t quite know how the king salmon might behave in a land-based farm, so the idea of sockeye salmon, which we know breeds very well, is a risk mitigation as well as an opportunity for New Zealand.”

International experience

For his part, Penno explained to Stuff.co.nz that “Mount Cook Alpine Salmon already has international experience in building land-based salmon farms within its aquaculture division and will draw on this knowledge. They will also consult with global experts to design the advanced water management system.

Penno detailed that the project will generate new employment opportunities at Twizel. “This new approach to salmon farming could lead to significant employment and career opportunities in both aquaculture and applied technologies in a remote area of the country.”

“Demand for healthy, sustainably produced aquaculture products continues to grow, and land-based salmon farming will enable New Zealand to increase the supply of this high-quality, high-value product,” Penno said, adding that the project is in line with the Government’s aquaculture strategy, which outlines a sustainable growth pathway for an additional NZD 3 billion in annual revenue.

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