Conference to discuss move to open ocean farming


A group of leading scientists are due to meet in Nelson, New Zealand next week to debate a new development in aquaculture – the move away from sheltered coastal areas to open ocean farming.

The event is being hosted by New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, Cawthron Institute, at its its inaugural Open Oceans aquaculture symposium, titled “Unlocking the potential of our oceans”. It will discuss the ways open ocean aquaculture developments in both shellfish and finfish farming could revolutionise the global aquaculture industry. The event will be held from August 5th-7th.

Cawthron Institute CEO Professor Charles Eason said aquaculture in a number of countries including New Zealand was being constrained by the limited number of inshore farm space.

He believes the new frontier is open ocean aquaculture, where there are large tracts of consented space available but also where farming in exposed waters was challenging. This will mean new engineering concepts and farming approaches to provide confidence for investors.

He added: “The Cawthron Institute is advancing open ocean aquaculture technology through the development of new tools and methods to cost-effectively farm shellfish and finfish.”

With technology opportunities progressing at pace, Professor Eason says its symposium was a unique opportunity to bring together industry and global research leaders to discuss ways to boost New Zealand’s open ocean aquaculture potential, Eason says.

“During this symposium you’ll hear about technological advancements from Cawthron scientists and global research leaders, as well as the social and economic impacts of open ocean aquaculture. There is a global demand for protein, and aquaculture is a good way to produce that protein, with potentially less impact than land-based farming.

“Alongside this, we need to consider potential effects and mitigation measures as industry goes out there. Rigorous science, together with new monitoring technologies, will help build our knowledge base to ensure we do this in a way that is innovative and sustainable.”

Among the guests will be Hans V. Bjelland, the director of Exposed Aquaculture at the Centre for research-based innovation from Trondheim, Norway and Arndt Hildebrandt from the Ludwig-Franzius Institute for Hydraulic, Estuarine, and Coastal Engineering in Hanover, Germany. Trondheim is a global aquaculture centre and is moving to open ocean farming, and Arndt Hildebrant has worked with Cawthron scientists to build open ocean structure for shellfish farming.

Other speakers include Cawthron’s aquaculture specialist Kevin Heasman, who is leading the development of the methods to farm finfish and shellfish in the open ocean.


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