On Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, (subject to weather) Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd will harvest their first commercial load of mussels for the domestic market, including supermarkets throughout the North Island.
These mussels have been raised in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and represent the very first commercial harvest of shellfish from the Eastern Seafarms Ltd waterspace situated eight kilometres off the Ōpōtiki coast.
Early Tuesday morning, the Northern Quest, will depart Whakatane to harvest mussels and return to Whakatane to dispatch our product to Foodstuffs Ltd. The mussels will then be distributed and sold in the Foodstuffs Ltd stores throughout the North Island.
These mussels, from the Eastern Bay of Plenty will be available through New World and Pak’n’Save supermarkets as well as at Ōpōtiki Seafoods Ltd on Wednesday and Thursday – as long as their stocks last!!
Chairman Ian Craig, along with the Board of Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd have decided that there was a better opportunity to showcase our mussels on the domestic market, instead of exporting them as previously planned.
He said “the current crop of mussels have grown larger than expected, and although still okay for export, they are not optimum size as they are larger than preferred in the export market. The new product will be sold under the OPEN OCEAN brand and will be marked in the supermarkets”.
Working collectively with Foodstufffs Ltd it was decided to market the mussels through their stores.
The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board has, after seventeen years, realised the beginning of their dream of “Being the Food Bowl that feeds the World”, starting with aquaculture here in Ōpōtiki. Their strength, against many challenges and resource management appeals, has held firm as we see this first return to the Eastern Bay.
Tuesday will start with a blessing on the farm by Kaumatua of Whakatohea Iwi before harvesting starts. Chairman of Eastern Seafarms Ltd, and Chairman of the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board Robert Edwards, will be present to see the first mussels blessed and returned to the sea before harvesting starts in earnest. He says “it has been a long road, with many potholes, but our resolve and determination has seen us through to this day. We will be here for generations to come, providing food for the world – as well as other value added products!”
Spokesman for WMOL, Selby Fisher would like to thank the community of the Eastern Bay for their support. He says “the support of the local person, in the street, in both Ōpōtiki and Whakatane, has meant that we have been able to concentrate our efforts on expanding the farm. We are extremely proud of our team and suppliers who have made this possible in a difficult winter.”