Independent scientific research for the benefit of New Zealand.

Our science focuses on research that helps protect the environment and supports sustainable development of New Zealand's primary industries.

Areas of expertise include marine and freshwater ecology, aquaculture, microalgae, biosecurity and natural compound chemistry. 

If you are interested in collaborating on new research, please contact our Investment and Contract Manager Robert Matheson or relevant research scientists (see our people). Find out how you can support our public-good science at Cawthron Foundation.

Our scientists are engaged in a wide range of research. Some of the larger programmes are listed below.

Emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) – Managing the Risks
This programme aims to identify which emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) are predominant in New Zealand’s aquatic ecosystems, to characterise the risks they pose to our unique taonga, and to investigate their potential for accumulation in food and their role in the development of antimicrobial resistance. Read more

Enabling Open Ocean Shellfish Aquaculture
New Zealand’s shellfish aquaculture sector is eager to grow in response to globally increasing demand but is constrained by limited access to sheltered inshore farm space. The new frontier is open ocean aquaculture (OOA). Read more

Ka Hao te Rangatahi: Revolutionary Potting Technologies and Aquaculture for Scampi
This programme links Maori innovation with leading edge research, innovative design, and engineering. It aims to deliver increased economic returns, competitive advantage, and a sustainable scampi industry for Aotearoa using two new approaches. Read more

King salmon feed conversion efficiency (FCE)
This programme aims to improve understanding of processes that influence king salmon’s feed conversion; this will aid industry performance, profitability, and sustainability. Read more

Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) – one of New Zealand’s largest environmental online data platforms
The Land, Air, Water, Aoteaora (LAWA) project aims at bringing together environmental monitoring data collected around the country and making it available to the public through a dedicated interactive website. Read more

Manaaki Taha Moana: Oranga Taiao, Oranga Tangata – Knowledge and toolsets to support co-management of estuaries
The central objective of this research is to empower iwi/hapū to be strong partners in the co-management of estuaries by providing improved knowledge/tools/processes. During this four-year programme, Cawthron’s main contributions will be in developing indicators of estuarine health and statistical models to forecast the effects of different management scenarios on important estuarine species. Read more

Musseling-up: high-value Greenshell™ mussel foods
This programme will generate scientific evidence of the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels and assist the industry to identify and develop optimal Greenshell™ mussel-based functional food products. Read more

Our lakes health: past, present and future (Lakes 380) – Me hoki whakamuri kia haere whakamua
With increasing public interest in enhancing and protecting national water quality, it is vital to have information on the pre-human and current health of New Zealand’s lakes.The health of many of our lakes is deteriorating, yet our ability to make informed assessments at a national scale is hampered by the scarcity of critical knowledge. Read more

Sustainable Water Allocation Project
For stakeholders in freshwater management in New Zealand (government, industry, iwi and conservation organisations), prudent decisions about water allocation are very challenging. The principal aims of the programme are to provide the predictive relationships, risk and uncertainty assessments, and research and management tools required for effective river flow management. Read more

The Cultured Shellfish Programme: Enabling, Growing, and Securing NZ's Shellfish Aquaculture Sector
This programme aims to push industry beyond its $1B by 2025 export sales target, by enabling innovation-driven growth to maximise the profitability of NZ’s shellfish aquaculture industry. Read more

For information on other research programmes, please go to our Science Services pages.

Reports and publications

We prepare reports for a wide range of organisations and private clients, and contribute research to journals and publications worldwide. While the majority of our scientific reports are client confidential, some of our publicly-funded reports are available for viewing.