Inside Info: SPATnz

SPATnz is pioneering the natural, selective breeding of New Zealand Greenshell mussels at a world-first purpose-built hatchery in Nelson, New Zealand. The SPATnz hatchery opened in 2015 at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park and employs 23 people. SPATnz has developed hatchery facilities and methods capable of producing spat for around 30,000 tonnes a year of adult mussels.

SPATnz, which stands for Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Limited, runs a Primary Growth Partnership Programme. A Collaboration between industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). SPATnz’s aim is to produce innovations to advance New Zealand Mussel/Aquaculture industry and deliver benefits for New Zealand’s economy.

The technology used to breed the mussels is natural and sustainable. There is no genetic engineering involved, but modern techniques like DNA fingerprinting are used to make sure that the breeding population remains genetically diverse. The spat are kept in clean saltwater and fed natural algae, just like they would eat in the sea. Scientists at SPATnz use a wash of cold water to encourage their mussel parents to spawn. It’s a deceptively simple process, but it took a lot of time and some painstaking research to perfect.

Breeding Better Mussels – the story of SPATnz – YouTube

Greenshell mussels (Perna canaliculus) are unique to New Zealand making them one of our most iconic seafood heroes. Until now, New Zealand’s mussel growers have relied on catching wild spat (baby mussels) around our coastline. We are pioneering natural, selective breeding of Greenshell mussels so our growers have the spat they need to grow the best mussels in the world. The initial financial benefits are expected to be around $80 million a year by 2026, or up to almost $200 million per year if the technology is adopted throughout the industry in New Zealand.

Benefits for working at SPATnz

  • Attractive remuneration and allowances dependent on your role
  • Discounts on available seafood and shellfish
  • The beautiful Nelson region is an amazing place to work
  • Providing you a safe and enjoyable workplace is paramount
  • A role with plenty of variety, a chance to learn new skills through internal Learning and Development
  • A career pathway working in an innovative industry where opportunities are endless