Aquatic Animal Health Research Programme

Cawthron’s highly collaborative MBIE programme, ‘Aquaculture Health Strategies to Maximise Productivity and Security’, contributes to the resilience of the aquaculture sector through informed and proactive health management. This programme is dedicated to solving some of the industry’s most challenging animal health problems and provides expert advice to enhance industry practice.

Consumers have come to expect that food is grown in the best possible conditions for health and welfare. We have developed new tools and surveillance programmes to help solve disease syndromes that impact the aquaculture industry’s resilience. This programme is ensuring confident, robust economic growth so that industry will meet Government targets of a 3-billion-dollar Aquaculture sector by 2030. Highlights to date include:

  • A farm-based disease surveillance programme has now been established and is being used by the salmon industry
  • New disease diagnostic methods and commercial disease testing capability has been developed
  • Diagnosis of emergent pathogenic disease organisms has redirected industry priorities
  • A tracking tool has been developed and is being used by shellfish and finfish aquaculture industry to identify appropriate biosecurity zoning and management areas
  • We have designed and built biocontainment facilities to conduct research investigations of direct value to NZ’s aquatic primary industries
  • We have grown the active aquatic animal health research and development community in New Zealand, bringing together world class expertise for synergised outcomes

This programme enables ethical and sustainable production of animal protein. Our dynamic team is committed to supporting our food industries against emerging disease threats so that New Zealander’s prosper from our unique location and seafood products.


Funder: The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment through the Strategic Science Investment Fund

Partners: Auckland University of Technology, University of Tasmania, University of Waikato, University of Melbourne, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Kono, New Zealand King Salmon, Sanford Ltd, Tio Point Oysters, MPI, Marine Farmers Association, Kaiaua Farms Ltd, Paua Industry Council, Ocean Beach Ltd.

Case Studies

Cawthron Institute Aquatic Animal Health team staff, Cawthron Aquaculture Park, 2022. From left: Deborah Long, Javier Atalah, Norman Ragg, Paul South, Nick King, Alaric McCarthy, Xavier Pochon, Ben Knight, Anne Vignier, Ulla von Ammon, Gareth Nicholson, Chaya Bandaranayake, Steve Webb, Chris Chamberlain, Karthiga Kumanan, Isaac Hine, Zoe Hilton, Joanna Copedo, Kate Hutson and Serean Adams.


Kate Hutson
Aquatic Animal Health Team Leader

Kate Hutson

Other aquaculture research projects

BeNeZe: A kingfish parasite diagnosis and management tool

BeNeZe: A kingfish parasite diagnosis and management tool

The Cawthron Institute has developed BeNeZe – a decision support tool for managing skin (Benedenia seriolae, Neobenedenia girellae), and gill fluke (Zeuxapta seriolae) infections in kingfish and amberjacks (Seriola species). The tool helps to determine the best time to treat parasites based on local conditions. It also helps recognise signs of ectoparasite flatworm infections.

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Shellfish Aquaculture Research Platform

Shellfish Aquaculture Research Platform

The national Shellfish Aquaculture Research Platform is the hub of shellfish aquaculture research in Aotearoa. Delivery of the Platform’s research objectives has required a collaborative effort between its leaders at Cawthron Institute and a range of partners including Māori, crown research institutes, universities, international researchers and companies within New Zealand’s shellfish industry.

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