Aquaculture & environmental interactions

Growing global demand for protein and high-value food products from the sea is creating a significant economic opportunity for environmentally responsible and sustainable aquaculture.

NIWA's National Centre for Aquaculture is responding to the opportunity and helping New Zealand's aquaculture industry achieve its target of $1 billion value by 2025. We bring together world-class research facilities – including the Bream Bay Aquaculture Park – and the country's largest team of aquaculture specialists to support the industry with unique science that underpins current and developing operations and innovation.

We provide services to all sectors involved in aquaculture- including farmers, local and central Government.

If you are a farmer, we can help you with ecological aspects of:

  • site selection
  • surveys and assessment of effects – for both shellfish and finfish farms
  • presentation of expert evidence at resource consent hearings and the Environment Court
  • design, implementation and reporting on tailored monitoring programmes for your aquaculture farm
  • forecasting crop-performance

If you are involved in regulating the aquaculture industry, we can help you with:

  • assessment of cumulative effects associated with multiple existing and possible new farms within a region
  • design and operation of coastal monitoring programmes
  • interpretation of monitoring data with a view to distinguishing farm-induced environmental change from change arising for other reasons
  • negotiation of trigger-levels and associated response plans to facilitate management of farm operations relative to agreed environmental standards

These services are under-pinned by the outcomes of our Strategic Science Investment Fund: Aquaculture-Environment Interactions research programme.

NIWA's environmental interaction services (PDF 225 KB)

Our successes

We have completed over 180 ecological site assessments for approximately 100 clients, resulting in the development of 870ha of new shellfish aquaculture space over the past 15 years.

We have conducted numerous ecological assessments and reviews to support the operation of mussel farms and potential expansion of finfish aquaculture. Examples of the latter pieces of work include ongoing work related to salmon farm relocation in the Marlborough Sounds, and earlier investigations into the possibility of siting fish farms in Tasman and Golden Bays

We have undertaken routine, ongoing consent monitoring for mussel and fish farms in Stewart Island, Pegasus Bay, Marlborough Sounds and the Firth of Thames.  When reporting the results, we are often able to supplement the monitoring data with additional data and insights stemming from our Government-funded research activities. 

Our expertise

Our team can help you with ecological aspects of site selection, surveys and assessment of effects – for both shellfish and finfish farms.

We are experienced in the presentation of expert evidence at resource consent hearings and the Environment Court. We will provide objective analysis of data, presented in a manner which is understandable.

We can also design, implement and report on monitoring programmes for your aquaculture farm or coastal waters – drawing upon additional information which we generate through our own research.

Our process

Stage 1 – Evaluation

We will work closely with you to understand your requirements.

Stage 2 – Consultation

Where appropriate, we will facilitate consultation with other parties (for example, regulatory bodies) to ensure that we can collectively design and deliver a project that meets the requirements of all parties.

Stage 3 - Proposal

We will provide you with a proposal detailing the appropriate and cost-effective work-plan that will yield the required information as promptly and efficiently as possible.

Stage 4 - Report

We will deliver a report that detailing the results of our investigations.  Where required, we can also deliver supporting audio-visual materials and/or appear in person to present our findings and discuss their implications.

Our services

  • Cost-effective ecological assessments using highly trained staff and precision equipment.
  • Data analysis and modelling to assess the extent and level of effects.
  • Carrying capacity modelling for both shellfish and finfish at spatial scales ranging from the farm to bay-wide and regional.
  • Climate analyses to understand and plan for seasonal and inter-annual events.
  • Independent expert witness services for consent hearings and the Environment Court.
  • Design and implementation of monitoring programmes.
  • Access to other NIWA expertise in breeding services, genetics and spat/fingerlings supply.

Contact

Dr Niall Broekhuizen
Programme Leader (Aquaculture/Environment Interactions), Hamilton

aquabiotech@niwa.co.nz

We have undertaken routine, ongoing consent monitoring for mussel and fish farms in Stewart Island, Pegasus Bay, Marlborough Sounds and the Firth of Thames.  When reporting the results, we are often able to supplement the monitoring data with additional data and insights stemming from our Government-funded research activities 
Mussels growing on a marine farm. [NIWA]
Side-scan sonar image of a portion of seafloor, approximately 100 x 60 m. [NIWA]
Modelled tidal currents, Beatrix Bay. [NIWA]
Yncyca Bay mussel farm, Malborough Sounds. [NIWA]