Aquaculture news

The international project team with New Zealand experts
19 January 2017

International team gathers in New Zealand to innovate a new frontier in food production

A team of world class science and engineering minds collaborated in Nelson, applying their expertise to the challenge of making open ocean shellfish farming viable. If successful, the project could significantly increase New Zealand shellfish production and exports by up to $300 million a year in the long term.

“We have a real opportunity here to more than double New Zealand’s aquaculture production. It is the first research project of its type in the world to look at developing new shellfish technology suited to the high energy offshore environment.

“At present there’s over 10,000ha of consented open ocean water-space in New Zealand, some progress has been made into developing this space but the open ocean is a very demanding environment.  This research project should open up possibilities and remove some hindering factors”.

“Stormy weather can harm shellfish mussel stocks and damage equipment; our project team are workshopping innovative solutions to reduce these risks,” said project leader Kevin Heasman.

This Cawthron Institute project is combining the knowledge of top international scientists and University of Canterbury scholars, with the know-how of aquaculture industry experts. Together they hope to develop novel, robust, efficient, and low maintenance systems.

Inshore mussel harvesting in action

“We’re innovating systems to work deep under the water’s surface where culture structures holding the shellfish are better protected from stormy weather. Here they also have plenty of space to grow in harmony with other wildlife,” said Kevin Heasman.

German Hydraulic and Coastal Engineer Dr Nils Goseberg is feeling positive about the week’s progress, “It’s unusual to have such an international grouping together to focus on aquaculture solutions. I am confident we will get there.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are funding the project and have committed $6 million over 5 years.

Major aquaculture industry players including Sandford Ltd and Whakatohea Mussels Opotiki Ltd are supporting the project by providing insight and resources.

“Cawthron is really pleased to have pulled together a world leading team from different engineering and science disciplines. We have globally leading marine research institutes working alongside our brilliant New Zealand researchers and industry experts,” said Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason.

The project is benefitting from the expertise of international participants including Norwegian Aquaculture Technology Research Director Dr Arne Fredheim from the Scandinavian SINTEF research organisation, German Professor of Applied Marine Biology Dr Bela H. Buck from the Alfred Wegener Institute, and ‎University of New Hampshire Director of Coastal and Ocean Technology Programs Professor Richard Langan.


Media contact: Nicole Taber

Phone: 03 539 3212| Email: