Debate on Annual Reviews 2013/14 - Primary Sector - Committee stage

Thursday, April 30, 2015

STUART SMITH: Well, it is great to have an opportunity to speak on the primary industries appropriation tonight, and I would like to start by talking about fishing, which seems to have been raised by the previous speaker. In fact, some really good news came out overnight. Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd’s subsidiary has just got the first business agreement with the Dubai Government, which is fantastic news. It goes from very good investment by the Ministry for Primary Industries into that area.
I would also like to talk about shellfish and the production technology company that has just set up in Nelson, which the Minister touched on earlier. That is a Primary Growth Partnership in conjunction with Sanford Ltd, and I have had the pleasure of being out with Sanford Ltd and looking at its aquaculture industry in Marlborough Sounds not so long ago. It was really interesting, only a few weeks ago, to talk about the opportunities that that particular project will bring to the industry.

It is phenomenal. In the wild, there are 30 to 40 million eggs released by a female mussel, but only two of those mature through. The opportunity to do it in a controlled environment, with a controlled gene stock, really, is what is the opportunity here. Because at the moment the industry gets its spat from two sources, and it is really just relying on these spat either coming washed up on shore in seaweed up in Northland or on to racks in Golden Bay. It really is not reliable, and the source is not very top-quality either. So this gives a real breeding programme opportunity. So it is a fantastic opportunity.

The other Primary Growth Partnership I want to talk about this evening is Precision Seafood Harvesting. That is a wonderful innovation that is driven by the Primary Growth Partnership. It has developed new fishing technology, which is going through the patent process as we speak. It gives an opportunity to be much more selective from what is caught in the net. If smaller fish escape from the net they are landed on the boat in much better condition, and it gives an opportunity to return bycatch over the side. Most fish land alive and are in much better condition, and that gives an opportunity to make a lot more money by selling high-quality fish through to our export markets. So it is a great result for the fishing industry.

Turning to biosecurity: one of the big issues, as far as biosecurity goes in the KaikĊura electorate, is Chilean needle grass. A group of people got together—it was one of the top issues—during recess week, I had the pleasure of hosting the Minister for Primary Industries and the Prime Minister at Te Mania in the Conway area, and that had over 400 farmers there. They were concerned about such things as Chilean needle grass, and how to double primary sector exports by 2025 while operating within environmental constraints that we are operating under.

I note that my colleague was talking earlier about Overseer and that the Ministry for Primary Industries put a lot of money into Overseer. It is an iterative programme, and it will take time. It would not matter how much money you threw at it today, tomorrow you would want to be putting some more at it, because it just develops over time.

One of the problems we have is that the science and the regulators are having trouble keeping pace with the change. But farmers on that day at Te Mania were there to really discuss all those issues and to really drive home, to the rest of New Zealand, that while they and the primary industries are the economic engines for the New Zealand economy, they are also guardians of the land, care very deeply about the environment, and realise that their lifestyle and their income is dependent on a good environment and a good environmental result.

The other big announcement that was, I think, briefly touched on by the Minister earlier, is the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas—[Bell rung] Thank you.