Plant and Food’s research develops new methods and technologies to ensure the sustainability of the seafood industry.
Plant & Food Research works closely with New Zealand’s major seafood companies to develop new methods of production, harvest and postharvest management to ensure long-term sustainability of the industry.
Our research works with capture and handling of wild fish, culture and husbandry of farmed fish, as well as research into the postharvest management of live shellfish and rock lobster.
Some of the products and systems developed by Plant & Food Research for the seafood industry include –
Production Methods: We are working on the breeding, nutrition and production of new aquaculture species. Our current trials, including those on butterfish and snapper, are providing the fundamental understanding of fish physiology and behaviour required for the commercialisation of these as new species – a key strategic objective for the aquaculture industry.
Harvesting Technologies: AQUI-S® is an aquatic anaesthetic that was developed by Plant & Food Research to give flexibility and control in animal husbandry, transporting and harvesting operations. The ingredients are approved for use in foods and AQUI-S® is safe for use in food and aquarium fish. Fish that are harvested using AQUI-S® have improved flesh quality, yield and shelf life. The use of AQUI-S® during the transportation of live fish and during health management practices lowers stress and reduces mortality.
Building on its success with rested harvesting technologies, Plant & Food Research is also working with the major seafood companies to modify trawling gear and methods to provide a more gentle catch. The equipment being created by this research will, in time, offer commercial fishermen improved species selectivity and more sustainable resource management, as well as significantly enhanced seafood product quality.
Postharvest Live Handling and Storage Systems: We are working on improved methods and new technologies for handling and storing live seafood after harvest. Our designs are ensuring that products reach the market in the best possible condition and delivering increased value to the industry. AirLift, a system designed for the storage and preservation of Greenshell™ mussels, is an example of one such technology. The lightweight system uses air and foam to create a transport and storage environment that protects the mussels from shell damage and enhances product quality by addressing the physiological needs of the shellfish meat.
We have also developed industry-oriented best practice guidelines for the postharvest treatment of several fish and shellfish species.