NZ mussel farms count cost of storm damage

Many of New Zealand’s mussel farms are cleaning up after huge storms wreaked havoc across the South Island.

The cost of the damage is reported to run into millions of dollars and the weather has left a trail of devastation that could take weeks to clear.

Extreme bad weather poses one of the biggest threats to fish farming operations as salmon companies in Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands can readily testify over the past two years.

This time the storms, which brought 25 feet high waves and were the worst in over 15 years, hit the Tasman Bay area at the top end of the South Island, leaving a trail of tangled mussel lines and building damage.

One Tasman bay company, MacLab which is located near the port of Nelson, said more than half of a 670 acre farm was torn out of the seabed.

The company said it was now in the repair phase of the operation but around half of its mussel lines had been seriously damaged. Most of the crop affected was half way through its growth cycle which has added to the cost.

A number of vessels have been working to untangle the lines.

The country’s Marine Farming Association president Jonathan Large said a number of farms in Golden Bay and the Marlborough Sounds also suffered severe damage, but those in Tasman Bay bore the brunt of the weather.

“It was a one-off event really, I’ve never seen anything like it, just consistently big seas that went through Tasman Bay,” he added.

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