The international project team with New Zealand experts. Photo/Supplied.

International team search for industry break through

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A team of world-class science and engineering minds have been in Nelson this week, 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.

Cawthron scientist and project leader Kevin Heasman. Photo/Supplied.
Cawthron scientist and project leader Kevin Heasman. Photo/Supplied.

Project leader Kevin Heasman says 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…but the open ocean is a very demanding environment. This research project should open up possibilities and remove some hindering factors”.

Adult green lipped mussels on the line. Photo: Cawthron Institute.
Adult green lipped mussels on the line. Photo: Cawthron Institute.

The top international scientists, University of Canterbury scholars, and aquaculture industry experts are workshopping solutions to reduce the risk of harm to shellfish mussel stocks and equipment damage in stormy weather.

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

Mussel farming in action. Photo: Cawthron Institute.
Mussel farming in action. Photo: Cawthron Institute.

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.