Investigating patterns and predictability of fouling on mussel farms
Marine pests and diseases are a significant threat to the aquaculture industry, impacting production and increasing processing costs.
The biosecurity team at Cawthron Institute in Nelson are leading a research programme that is trying to better understand and predict the occurrence and impacts of aquaculture pests and diseases, and develop better management solutions for them.
Marine fouling and mussel farms
One of the projects involves research on marine fouling associated with mussel farms in the Marlborough Sounds. This work aims to help the aquaculture industry identify patterns in biofouling, predict the outcome if any new pests invade and plan effective management responses.
Cawthron scientists are identifying patterns in the way fouling pests grow and spread in Pelorus Sound. The location and density of fouling organisms including sea squirts, seaweed, tube worms, barnacles and blue mussels, has been recorded over a range of mussel farms throughout Pelorus Sound.
Large-scale patterns evident so far suggest that hard fouling species, such as blue mussels, might be more common in the outer Pelorus, with more soft-bodied foulers, such as sea squirts, in the inner Sound. Additionally, the potential influences of water temperature, salinity, sedimentation and seasonal variation on the development of fouling communities are being investigated.
Analysing blue and green mussel spat
Another Cawthron project involves the analysis of data collected by the Marine Farming Association on the settlement of blue and green mussel spat. This is an impressive and valuable historical dataset, representing over 40 years of settlement information.
Cawthron scientist Dr Javier Atalah is conducting preliminary statistical analyses and, subject to additional funding, will extend the study with a goal to better predict the extent of blue and green mussel spat abundance in the Marlborough Sounds.
If you have any interesting observations or require additional information about this research, please contact Javier Atalah.