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 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, and can also design, implement and report on tailored monitoring programmes for your aquaculture farm.

One of our core areas of research and consultancy is the Aquaculture Environmental Interactions 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 10 years.

We have conducted numerous ecological assessments and reviews to support the operation and potential expansion of finfish aquaculture. Our monitoring of finfish farms in Stewart Island and the Marlborough Sounds has included sediment effects, quantifying the amount of waste feed and assessing wild fish populations. Recently we have begun site assessments to assist potential finfish aquaculture in Northland.

We have developed novel models to assess how much water would be filtered by a shellfish farm, in order to ensure the sustainability of plankton.

We also have advanced modelling capability to assess the quantity and distribution of waste released by shellfish and finfish farms, and its effects on the surrounding environment.

Our extensive inventory of equipment, which includes high-resolution side-scan sonar, acoustic Doppler current meters, remote cameras, sediment sampling devices and chemical probes, has been set up to ensure accurate data collection and analysis.

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 that will target the issues required and offer sensible solutions.

Our process

Stage 1 – Evaluation

We will work closely with you to evaluate and advise on potential sites for new developments.

Stage 2 – Consultation

We will consult with regulatory authorities on your behalf, to ensure that the assessment of ecological effects meets the requirements of the resource consent process.

Stage 3 - Proposal

We will provide you with a proposal detailing the appropriate and cost-effective methodology you need for your site to assess its ecological values.

Stage 4 - Report

We will deliver a report that details the Assessment of Environmental Effects for your chosen sites for development, ready for submission to the regulatory authorities.

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 from the farm to bay-wide scale.
  • 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 Ken Grange
Programme LeaderNelson
aquabiotech@niwa.co.nz

Mussels growing on a marine farm

Mussels growing on a marine farm. [NIWA]

Side-scan sonar image of a portion of seafloor, approximately 100 x 60 m

Side-scan sonar image of a portion of seafloor, approximately 100 x 60 m. [NIWA]

Modelled tidal currents, Beatrix Bay

Modelled tidal currents, Beatrix Bay. [NIWA]

Yncyca Bay mussel farm, Malborough Sounds

Yncyca Bay mussel farm, Malborough Sounds. [NIWA]