Areas designated for Undaria farming

19 January 2012

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is announcing three small geographical areas where farming of Undaria (Undaria pinnatifida) will be allowed, creating a new commercial opportunity.

The three areas where farming of Undaria will be allowed, subject to MAF approval, are in waters of Wellington, Marlborough and Banks Peninsula.

Undaria - also known as Japanese kelp - was accidentally introduced to New Zealand waters in the 1980s. It is now widespread around most of New Zealand’s eastern and southern coastlines from Auckland to Bluff, including the Snares Islands.

Undaria is firmly established in many areas, but it is still officially designated an unwanted organism and is the subject of local elimination programmes in Fiordland and on the Chatham Islands.

The fact that it is an edible seaweed, able to be used for fertiliser and fish food, means it has potential commercial value.

Until mid last year, it could be harvested only as part of an official Undaria control programme or as a by-product of operations such as marine farming.

Following a review, the Government decided to allow a broader range of commercial uses and as part of this to legalise farming of Undaria for the first time.

The revised rules released in May 2010 allow Undaria to be farmed in selected, heavily infested areas and to be harvested from artificial surfaces such as marinas, as beach cast, and from natural surfaces when part of a specific control programme.

“MAF has since undertaken a robust process to identify suitable areas for farming, including consulting with Iwi, technical experts, central and regional government, industry and environmental groups,” says Abi Loughnan, manager of MAF’s Environment and Marine Response team.

MAF has assessed that in allowing farming in these particular areas, there will not be increased risk of new or increased infestation in other areas, she says.

Media contact:

Jackie Bedford, ph (04) 894 0654 or call the MAF Media phoneline: 029 894 0328. Email: Jackie.bedford@maf.govt.nz