King salmon is a native of the northern Pacific Ocean and the largest of the Pacific salmon family.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, numerous attempts were made to introduce it to New Zealand as a game fish, and millions of young salmon fry were released into South Island rivers, never to be seen again. However, success finally came in the late 1800s, when fish, bred from eggs imported from California, were released into the headwaters of the Waitaki, Rangitata, Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers, and eventually returned from the sea to breed.
Dwindling supplies of wild fish in the world’s oceans has encouraged the recent development of fish farming, and in the early 1970s sea farms began to be used in Norway and Scotland for raising Atlantic salmon. 1983 saw the establishment of New Zealand’s first salmon sea farm at Stewart Island, followed by others in the Marlborough Sounds. King salmon is the only salmon species sea farmed in New Zealand, with New Zealand King Salmon being the world’s major supplier of this species, contributing towards the more than 3 million tonnes of all salmon and trout now produced annually worldwide.
In New Zealand, the first commercially licensed salmon farm was the company’s Waikoropupu Springs Hatchery at Takaka, Golden Bay and the first licensed sea farm was the company’s site at Ruakaka Bay in Marlborough.