Bream Bay’s Moana New Zealand Blue Abalone has earned a first for aquaculture businesses in New Zealand – the farming operation has become the nation’s premier Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification holder.

The company, which worked for two years to garner its certificate, is only the fourth abalone producer globally to have earned ASC accolades. Moana New Zealand Chief Executive Carl Carrington anticipates the hard work will pay of for the company.

“It’s an incredibly rigorous process with auditors taking into account everything from what the abalone are fed to how it is handled, what impact the farm has on the environment, and even how we treat our staff,” Carrington said in a prepared statement.

Moana New Zealand is the only abalone farm in New Zealand, a country that is also home to aquaculture operations producing other species such as salmon, oysters and mussels. Moana farms its abalone via land-based means, using a sea water recirculation system withboth incoming and outgoing filtration.

The species of abalone produced by the company is Haliotis iris, a native New Zealand species. The farm’s abalone product, due to the filtered water environment, presents with a blue shell and clean, white meat. Moana New Zealand has a capacity to produce up to 120 metric tons, or 2 million individual shells, of Haliotis iris; the product can either be delivered live or frozen through cryogenic techniques.

The company follows a precise breeding regimen, which traces the blue abalone through the full life cycle from spawning to spat, then to market size as a cocktail size abalone (of approximately 75m length) after about three and a half years, it said.

“Our business is built on a respect for natural resources and people. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do both out in the environment and in our own operations,” Carrington said. “As the country’s largest Iwi-owned (Māori) seafood company our values of whakatipuranga and kaitiakitanga – of being true to nature and to future generations – are the essence of our efforts in this area.

Moana New Zealand has also been working on its environmental footprint, partnering with the Northland Regional Council and the Department of Conservation in an effort to restore the dunes in front of its operation in Bream Bay, which act as homes to important bird species such as Fairy Terns.

Third-party certifier SCS Global Services conducted the ASC assessment for Moana New Zealand.

"We congratulate the facility on this important achievement,” said Sabine Daume, SCS Global Service’s regional fisheries certification representative.