New Zealand’s recreational fishery industry fights to keep nationwide ban on commercial trout farms

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New Zealand is the only country in the world that specifically bans commercial trout farming. But now a former salmon farmer is trying to change the law.

While NZ salmon is arguably one of the country’s big success stories, rainbow trout farming remains prohibited under the Conservation Act and Fisheries Act. Former salmon farmer, Clive Barker is petitioning Parliament to change the laws. But the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers isn’t happy.

Bans trout farming
New Zealand is the only country in the world that specifically bans trout farming. Though between 1912 and 1920, Lake Taupō rainbow trout were bought and sold by the Tourist Department. The fish were smoked and sent to markets in Auckland and Wellington.

While salmon farming was authorised in 1973, a rainbow trout farm trial was proposed. However it was omitted under pressure from recreational interests. Though they have been farmed for recreational purposes for the last 134 years.

Rainbow trout: an expansion in real GDP of up to $48 million by 2030 PHOTO Trout New Zealand

$48 million by 2030
Barker has set up an initiative called Trout New Zealand to support new farms all across the country (starting with the Bay of Plenty, on the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island) through the Regional Aquaculture Organisation (RAO). The group said that they “conservatively estimated the value of trout farming to the New Zealand economy to be an expansion in real GDP of up to $48 million by 2030.”

In his proposal to parliament, Barker added that “lifting NZ’s ban on trout farming would create intergenerational business  opportunities in rural employment vulnerable rural  communities that allows New Zealander businesses to better compete on the world stage.”

At risk
However Graham Carter, president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) said in a press release via the site Scoop, that trout farming was of “insignificant economic value alongside the value of trout fishing.”

“Trout farming is a capital intensive, marginally economic, high risk venture that would put New Zealand’s highly valuable recreational trout fishery at risk,” he added.

Billion dollars annually
The president also worried about the financial impact of farms on the NZ sports trout fishery industry which is worth “probably today a billion dollars annually,” he said.

Carter insisted that instead of allowing trout farming, the Government and its ministries should concentrate on bringing down the price of sea fish.

“Sea fish is ridiculously highly priced compared to farm meat which required inputs of grass production and farming costs. NZFFA would be vigorously opposing the intent of the petition of a would-be, former fish farmer,” said Carter.

Barker is still seeking to develop of a commercial trout industry in New Zealand. “The proposal would align with the Government’s 2012 Aquaculture Strategy and Five-year action plan to enable the aquaculture sector to grow and achieve a $1 billion goal by 2025,” added Barker in his petition document to parliament.