Cawthron researchers win two top prizes in NZ Biosecurity Awards 

22 March 2022

Cawthron Institute researchers have won two top prizes in the 2021 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, it was announced yesterday by the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Dr Patrick Cahill, Cawthron Institute’s Manager of Biosecurity, won the AsureQuality Emerging Leader Award for his excellent work both as an individual researcher developing innovative treatment tools for invasive marine pests, and as the leader of a team that is recognised internationally for its pioneering work. 

Cawthron Institute’s Aquatic Animal Health Team, led by Dr Kate Hutson, won the Bioprotection Aotearoa Science Award for their MBIE Endeavour funded ‘Aquaculture Health Strategies to Maximise Productivity and Security’ Programme, which has developed methods for better detection, diagnosis, prediction and management of aquatic health and disease. 

The Awards announcement acknowledged Patrick’s ‘pioneering contributions to biosecurity surveillance, response, and management in the marine environment.’ 

These contributions include Patrick’s role as science Leader for the MBIE Endeavour funded Smart Idea project, ‘Next-gen Antifouling’, which is developing innovative new antifouling technology that will help to prevent boats from spreading marine invasive species. Patrick is a member of the Science Leadership Team for the Strategic Science Investment Fund platform  ‘Shellfish Aquaculture’, leading scientific research that helps to mitigate and manage the threat of invasive pests in NZ’s shellfish aquaculture industry. 

Video: Ministry for Primary Industries

Image: Cawthron Institute researchers involved in the Aquatic Animal Health Research Programme.

Finally, he works with the Ministry for Primary Industries on a number of operational research projects that underpin New Zealand’s marine biosecurity system and is a respected panel member on MPI’s Biosecurity Response and Biosecurity Surveillance Panels. 

Patrick says although he finds the spotlight a little uncomfortable, he is proud to have his work, and by extension the work of his team, acknowledged. 

“I’m really privileged to work alongside a team of incredible colleagues at Cawthron Institute who are global leaders in their fields, as well as dedicated research and biosecurity management partners across New Zealand, from central and local government and industry, to Māori, community and environmental groups,” Patrick says. 

“I’m humbled to receive the Award but want to acknowledge that I’m part of a much larger team of people who are doing really important work every day to protect Aotearoa New Zealand’s environment and people.” 

The Awards announcement also praised the Cawthron Institute’s Aquatic Animal Health Research Team for its work to prevent outbreaks of aquatic disease, which protects New Zealand’s seafood industry and marine ecosystems. 

Team Leader Dr Kate Hutson says her team has made nationally impactful advances through the ‘Aquaculture Health Strategies to Maximise Productivity and Security Programme’, and she is grateful to Bioprotection Aotearoa and the Ministry for Primary Industry for the recognition of their achievements. 

“Receiving this Award recognises the team’s work in support of the aquaculture sector which has enabled more informed and proactive farm health management,” Kate says. 

Catherine Moisan

Image: Cawthron Institute’s Biosecurity Manager, Patrick Cahill.

Cawthron Institute and Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd use Open Ocean Aquaculture Programme buoy “Kūtaicam” to provide boaties with key information for summer trips

Image: Cawthron Institute’s Aquatic Animal Health Team Leader Kate Hutson.

“We look forward to continuing that work, particularly as we prepare to open a brand new aquatic biocontainment research laboratory in Nelson.” 

Innovations from this research team, developed hand-in-hand with national and international partners (including universities, crown research institutes and government) include the development of an Aquaculture Outbreak Tracking Tool (AOTT) that predicts the movement of pathogens and pests. The research team also developed a new commercial disease surveillance service including new diagnostic tests, discovered novel infectious agents and identified biofouling risk taxa with recommendations for aquaculture farm management. 

Find out more about Cawthron’s Biosecurity Research Team > 

Find out more about Cawthron’s Aquatic Animal Health Research Programme > 

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