Farmed snapper could be on our tables in just a few years, according to an award-winning scientist.
Associate Professor Maren Wellenreuther from Plant and Food Research and the University of Auckland has been awarded the 2018 Hamilton Award, an Early Career Award, for developing snapper as an aquaculture species.
Dr Wellenreuther’s research has involved bringing snapper into tanks, getting them to spawn and successfully rearing the eggs and larvae to breeding maturity at three years old.
She says that although commercially farming snapper is still five to ten years away, she is pleased with progress so far.
“For the early life stages of snapper we were able to double the growth rate already, so we are quite confident that we can get them to grow to, say, 700 grams or one kilogram much faster.”
Dr Wellenreuther and her colleagues have also developed a novel way of identifying individual snapper, which is like a visual fingerprint and can be used instead of tagging.
“We take an image of the fish, and using that image we can actually identify each individual in our hatchery,” she says.
“And I’m talking about thousands of different fish. With a very high accuracy – 99 percent accuracy. So the colour pattern of snapper, we’ve found, is absolutely unique to each individual and it’s also stable over time.