General news

Emerging organic contaminants research receives MBIE funding (photo: Tim Cuff)
14 September 2017

Cawthron Institute research proposals to receive over $20 million from MBIE

Cawthron Institute's important role in supporting aquaculture health and managing the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s environment and people has been recognised in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2017 Endeavour Round, announced by Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith today.

Minister Goldsmith announced funding of more than $20 million over five years for two of Cawthron Institute’s proposed programmes of research.

“We are delighted by the announcement from the Minister,” says Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Professor Charles Eason. “It represents a real endorsement of our scientists and partners and the outstanding work that they do together. In both cases, the research that will be undertaken will make a real contribution to our understanding of key science. That will in turn have a very positive impact for New Zealand.”

One of the proposals to be funded will test whether emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) pose a risk to New Zealand’s unique aquatic ecosystems, and their potential to accumulate in New Zealand’s highly-valued food exports. EOCs are natural or manufactured chemicals in household and personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and agrichemicals. The use and discharge of EOCs is largely unregulated at present despite the fact that they are used daily by individuals and industries globally with substantial amounts released into the environment. “Regulators worldwide are concerned about the impacts of EOCs in the environment and in our food,” says programme leader Dr Louis Tremblay.

Listen to Dr Tremblay talk about the role and use of chemicals in modern society

The second proposal to be funded will enable industry-relevant, cutting-edge research leading to efficient and timely diagnosis, prediction and management of aquatic diseases that may impact the aquaculture industry.

“Aquaculture in New Zealand has been severely impacted by recent occurrences of exotic and emerging diseases and by undiagnosed stock health issues,” says Professor Eason. Programme leaders Dr Steve Webb and Dr Barrie Forrest are clear: “There is an urgent need to address these challenges to protect existing aquaculture production and to provide robust research that the industry can use to inform its decision-making as it grows and diversifies.”

Efficient and timely diagnosis, prediction and management of aquatic diseases are key to protecting NZ's aquaculture industry

Professor Eason says the funding announcement is also positive news for the wide range of stakeholders – especially commercial and regulatory – that are working with us and will further strengthen our extensive domestic and international research collaborations. "It provides certainty for us and our industry, regulatory and research partners, allowing us to continue pooling our resources and knowledge.

Today’s announcement contributes to our record of success in attracting research funding and taking a proactive approach to challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. More importantly, it will allow us to undertake important science that will be of real benefit to New Zealand."