In a flip: Pacific oyster farming technology


Friday, 25 September, 2020


In a flip: Pacific oyster farming technology

Production of Pacific oysters (tio) is expected to increase from 1.2 million dozen to two million dozen year-on-year by 2024 after Moana New Zealand received $11 million of regional funding to roll out ‘flip farming’ technology.

Oysters are usually placed in baskets and then submerged at various depths to grow, encouraged by the ocean’s natural tidal movements. Flip farming replicates these movements by semi-automating the basket flipping process, encouraging growth. This is usually a manually laborious process requiring skilled workers year-round to turn baskets by hand — no mean feat given oysters’ 18-month growth cycle.

The fully Maori-owned seafood company, Moana New Zealand, received the $11 million loan facility via the NZ government's Provincial Growth Fund. The funds will be used to remove historic infrastructure, purchase and construct ‘flip farm’ componentry, commission contractors, ensure water quality standards are met and conduct training.

Chief Executive Steve Tarrant said: “We’re really pleased to have secured regional funding, which is to be invested in sustainable marine technology, infrastructure creation and the human capital required to facilitate that long term.”

Fiona Wikaira, General Manager Operations – Shellfish and Meals, said permanent, full-time employment positions are expected to become available throughout regions in which Moana New Zealand farms and harvests oysters.

Increased processing capacity and implementation of new packaging technology — which isn’t subject to Provincial Growth Funding — in Moana New Zealand’s Wiri plant may also create more jobs.

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