Valuable fisheries and aquaculture industries for the geoduck Panopea generosa in North America, have stimulated interest in developing similar activities for geoduck species in New Zealand. The potential for establishing commercial enterprises for P. zelandica in New Zealand is reviewed. Although small fisheries for this species have existed since the late 1980s, the total annual landings have never exceeded 31.4 t. In 2006, P. zelandica was placed onto the New Zealand Quota Management System, with a total allowable catch of 40.5 t. Despite low capture rates, P. zelandica has several traits—similar to those for Panopea generosa—that may make it amenable for fisheries and aquaculture development. In terms of fisheries, it is typically found in benign coastal embayments and harbors, and it appears most dense in shallow subtidal waters (<15 m). Developing a sustainable fishery, however, will be contingent on a full understanding of the reproductive biology and ecology of P. zelandica; its unusual reproductive strategy (functional protandry) may result in a fishery that specifically targets females, which dominate the larger/older size classes in wild populations. With respect to aquaculture, adults can be readily spawned and larvae grown through to settlement. The largest impediment to fisheries development is a lack of information on the location of actual populations, and the low densities and natural mortality rates of known populations. The development of aquaculture will be hindered primarily by the ability to cultivate postsettlement individuals. Under current legislation, cultured marine organisms must be grown on structures, as a result of seabed ownership issues, although pond culture may be an alternative method for cultivating hatchery-reared stock. Despite these issues, P. zelandica shows potential for commercial exploitation, and it is a primary species identified to meet the New Zealand aquaculture sector's ambitious target of NZ$1 billion by 2025.
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Vol. 34 • No. 1