Peter and Una Rockliff, the husband and wife founders of Australian salmon and trout producer Petuna Aquaculture, sold their 50 percent stake in the company to their existing business partner, New Zealand's Sealord Group, the company announced Wednesday.

The Rockliffs retain full ownership of their wild fisheries operations.

New Zealand-based Sealord has owned 50 percent of Petuna Aquaculture for the past decade and expressed a vision more invested in aquaculture production to IntraFish back in September.

Sealord Chairman Whaimutu Dewes paid tribute to the Rockcliffs, who diversified into aquaculture in 1990.

“Their contribution to the industry and to the principles of sustainable aquaculture are a matter of historic record,” he said. “Their pioneering spirit will always remain at the heart of Petuna’s culture.”

Sealord is committed to "significant" investment in the Tasmanian business, Dewes said, which will help stimulate the economy and create more jobs.

Petuna Aquaculture CEO Ruben Alvarez said that from the company’s perspective, it is business as usual.

“We have made significant gains over the past few years and the prospects for future growth and development are very encouraging,” he said.

“Petuna already has plans for expansion in Tasmania’s northwest and in the south, which are subject to continuing community consultation and regulatory approval.”

The Rockliffs said the decision to sell their half of the company was in the long-term interests of the business, but said the decision was "like parting with a family member."

Sealord is half owned by New Zealand's Maori people via Moana New Zealand (Aotearoa Fisheries), and half-owned by Japanese seafood giant Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui).

Sealord has primarily been a harvesting and processing operation, but also operates Sealord King Reef, a barramundi farm, in Queensland.

Sealord's revenues are in excess of NZ$450 million ($293 million/€266 million).