Research to find out whether sea cucumbers grown by the iwi are palatable to the Chinese market has come back negative, the Te Whakatohea Maori Trust Board says.
The board owns 54% of Eastern Seafarms Limited, which holds resource consents for the development of a multi-species marine farm 8.5km off the Opotiki coast.
Mussels are being trialled at the site, with the development showing positive signs.
The iwi is also trialling growing sea cucumbers on the seafloor - the first time that stage has been reached in New Zealand, board chief executive Dickie Farrar says.
But market research done on whether there is demand in China has come back negative because there are many different varieties, she says.
Sea cucumbers are scavengers of the seafloor, so a trial is underway to see if there is potential for them to be under the mussel farm to improve its environment.