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Mussel Industry Upheaval

An article appeared on the NBR Website last evening that puts the cat amongst the pigeons in the always fraught mussel industry. 

It appears that Greenshell - one of the three shareholders in North Island Mussel Processors Ltd. has failed to make processing charge payments of some $1.2m, and the other two shareholders - Sanford and Sealord have pulled the plug by placing the Company (NIMPL)  into receivership.

This appears to be an endgame aimed at Peter Vitasovitch  - believed to be the principal shareholder in Greenshell, and who also happens to the Chair of Aquacuture New Zealnd - the industry organisation. The action may simply be a ploy to get Greenshell and Vitasovich out of the company before the new processing season commences, and leave it to the receiver to handle the Greeenshell debt. 

The industry is believed to have been marginal for some time with overseas markets disappearing down the drain hole along with the slowdown in the World economy. NZ greenshell mussels  don't have quite the cachet they once did, and the $24m. and I understand that the automated processing facility at Tauranga has provided more than a few teething headaches. 

The season starts again in Mid October, and it would appear that the facility will continue, probably in the hands the two remaining shareholders while the receivership problems get sorted. Unlike Greenshell, Sanford and Sealord have other strings to their bow, but just where Greenshell gets to process its new season crop is anyone's guess.

Any possibility of the facility not opening on time would be major blow for this district where the mussel industry has become the major source of revenue and jobs. Of even greater importance is the blow that will be dealt to the entire aquaculture industry plans on which so much of our Council's future is based.

With Mayor Leach out of the country, it will be interesting to see just how the new Council bureaucracy reacts to this news, and endeavours to put its usual spin on its bright new and highly active website. Scott Simpson may also have to adjust his overwhelming support for Mr Vitasovich expressed in his own releases.

Just what happens to Mr Vitasovitch and his Greenshell Company will be of considerable interest - he is a major, if not the major player at Te Kouma, and has been at the forefront of negotiations with the the Council over the aquaculture plans. There will more than a few of the smaller players in the industry at Te Kouma who will not be in the slightest bit concerned were this event to presage his fall from grace - the industry there has been riven with dissent, and has refused to fall into line with the grand plans of the big players for the re-development of the Sugar-loaf facility, and in particular the commitment to industry funding.

Watch this space for developments.




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