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HRH Prince Charles enjoyed finding out all about Cawthron's world class science when he visited in November 2015.
15 November 2015

Whirlwind royal tour showcases world class science

Nelson research organisations, Cawthron Institute and Plant & Food Research, showcased how their science is helping produce sustainable seafood to feed the world when His Royal Highness Prince Charles visited Cawthron in November.

"For the past 20 years a key focus for our scientists has been farmed seafood - that's because it's a route to quality food production and a sustainable solution to feeding the world," Cawthron aquaculture group manager Jacquie Reed says.

"We're working alongside farmers from source to export to ensure growing waters are safe and pure, minimising environmental impacts, breeding stronger, healthier and higher value fish and shellfish, and proving the health benefits in everything from mussels to algae."

Interactive and entertaining tour

It is well known that Prince Charles is a supporter of environmental research of the sort Cawthron excels at. During his hour-long visit of Cawthron's Halifax Street site and laboratories, the Prince enjoyed an interactive and entertaining tour of the science behind sustainable seafood, and met some of its leading scientists working in the marine science, algae and aquaculture space.

The power of algae

In the lab with Dr Mike Packer, Prince Charles found out about the power of algae as a superfood, biofuel and source of food for aquaculture species. He looked through microscopes at energetic algae, chuckled at the aptly named mutli-coloured algae disco, and learned how algae used solar power to generate electricity. 

Virtual tour of coasts and oceans

Once out of the lab, marine scientist Dr Chris Cornelisen took the Prince on a virtual tour of New Zealand's coasts and oceans and explained how Cawthron scientists are using satellite data and live data from Cawthron's hi-tech buoys to understand and monitor ocean health and ecosystems.

Revolutionary fishing technology

Next stop, Plant & Food Research showed the Prince the award winning revolutionary fishing technology, Precision Seafood Harvest (PSH). The Prince met with PSH technology inventor, Alistair Jerrett, and heard first-hand how the idea developed from concept to reality. He also met Raymond Armstrong, skipper of the Sealord vessel FV Aukaha, who discussed the benefits of the PSH system from a fisherman's perspective. Some of the young snapper reared at Plant & Food's Maitai Finfish facility were also on display.

Up close with mussels

Finally, the Prince met two of Cawthron's leading aquaculture scientists, Drs Serean Adams and Kevin Heasman and got up close with New Zealand's iconic Greenshell™ mussel. He watched 2-day old baby mussels dart around under a microscope, found out about Cawthron's work with new aquaculture species and watched the world's first New Zealand scampi raised in a hatchery. He laughed when told the world-first scampi was named 'Camilla' – in honour of his visit.

Time for a 'cuppa'!

Once the science tour was over, the Prince enjoyed a cup of tea and mingled with guests including representatives from New Zealand's leading seafood companies and Nelson business leaders.  

Cawthron Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason says was extremely proud to host the Prince and share his team's exciting science with him.

"It's not every day you get a royal visit, so we wanted to make sure it was one the Prince remembered and, most importantly, enjoyed."