Aquaculture news

Cawthron Aquaculture Park is a centre of excellence for aquaculture research and industry development
17 June 2014

Collaboration breeding success for aquaculture

Cawthron Aquaculture Park gives industry access to world-class research facilities and specialist scientific expertise in one place.

In the three years since Cawthron officially opened its purpose-built centre as a shared facility for aquaculture research, both commercial development and educational programmes for aquaculture have flourished.

"The aquaculture park was established as a centre for industry to come and work side by side with Cawthron and other commercial partners," Cawthron Aquaculture Group Manager Jacquie Reed says.

"Depending on the goals and requirements of our partners, we can help to develop their ideas, research plans, and then work with them to develop solutions through our hatchery, improved husbandry techniques or applied science. It's cutting-edge science with immediate take up by industry.

"One benefit our partners are finding is the informal day-to-day interaction with industry peers and our scientists – just having everyone sharing a lunch room makes a huge difference.

"We've got three different commercial companies, a research provider, NMIT and a whole lot of students, all sitting around talking to each other every day. This adds a huge amount to the synergies of working together."

The park is New Zealand's largest land-based aquaculture facility. Covering 20 hectares, it is home to working projects run by SPATnz, Kono, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology – as well as Cawthron's own Cultured Shellfish Programme.

Cultured Shellfish Programme leader Nick King says the park had enabled industry and Cawthron to align their research goals.

"When we began, we did a lot of work canvassing industry and stakeholders to find out what their priorities were. From there, we identified what we thought were the industry's research needs and opportunities and then industry partners have come in and started working with us," he says.

"The aquaculture park is all about having industry and research in the one location all working together. We have common objectives and share resources and work together where we can.

"When you look at the capabilities of everyone we work with out there, we have the full spectrum covered – from pure science right through to commercial application."

For SPATnz, the aquaculture park has been a vital source of tools and expertise, according to programme manager Rodney Roberts.

"It has given us a big head start, both in developing the capabilities and gaining confidence to move to the nextstage," Rodney says.

"The aquaculture park allows you to do early research in good-quality facilities without a massive investment in infrastructure.

"You're also in a building full of experts on various things and when you're having a cup of tea or lunch there's always someone who knows a fair bit about a particular aspect we're working on or having troubles with which is invaluable."

Kono's Andy Elliott says they have successfully collaborated with Cawthron for over 10 years.

"The aquaculture park gives us access to world-class infrastructure and allows us to collaborate with scientific experts," Andy says.

"We've had good support from Cawthron's Cultured Shellfish team and benefit from their expertise and resources, yet we operate virtually independently within their facility."

Kono sees Cawthron as a strategic research and development partner moving forward right across our business.

"Seeing the progress of both Kono and SPATnz has been very satisfying for Nick King who helped pioneer the technologies that their work is based on."

The Cultured Shellfish Programme works towards the domestication of various shellfish species and developing tools to improve productivity, profitability and reduced risk, Nick says.

"Our research around mussels has been picked up by SPATnz and Kono and they're building on that through their own hatcheries.

"We've also been working with Pacific oysters for the past 15 years and now AFL have taken over Cawthron's commercial spat operation and are using that to transfer the research we've been doing into commercial scale implementation.

"It's a great story to have that research happening in the lab and then going out to the industry whereit will be harvested and ready for export."

For more information please contact:

Nick King, Cawthron Culture Shellfish Programme Leader