Cawthron Open Oceans Aquaculture Symposium 2019


MEDIA RELEASE: Cawthron Institute Symposium draws together global aquaculture expertise to unlock open ocean potential

Leading scientific minds will come together in Nelson this August to discuss the shift taking place in aquaculture from sheltered waterways to open ocean farming.

New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, Cawthron Institute, is hosting its inaugural Open Oceans aquaculture symposium, “Unlocking the potential of our oceans”, which will discuss the ways open ocean aquaculture developments in both shellfish and finfish farming could revolutionise the global aquaculture industry.

The symposium will be held from 5-7 August 2019 at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson, New Zealand.

New Zealand’s aquaculture industryis growing in response to globally increasing demand but is constrained by limited sheltered inshore farm space, says Cawthron Institute CEO Professor Charles Eason.

The new frontier is open ocean aquaculture, where there are large tracts of consented space available but farming is challenging in exposed and dynamic waters, he says. New engineering concepts and farming approaches are needed to realise this opportunity and provide confidence for industry investment.

“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, Cawthron’s Open Oceans Symposium is 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” says Eason.

The Open Oceans aquaculture symposium will bring to New Zealand 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.

Among the speakers are Cawthron’s aquaculture specialist Kevin Heasman, who has presented internationally on open aquaculture and who is leading development of the methods to farm finfish and shellfish in the open ocean, as well as Coastal and Freshwater Group Manager Chris Cornelisen and Paul Barter, who will present on the essential technologies needed for open ocean aquaculture.

For more details about the symposium and to register go to

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Megan Kitchener +64 3 548 2319 or

About Cawthron Institute:

Cawthron Institute is New Zealand's largest independent science organisation, offering a broad spectrum of services to help protect the environment and support sustainable development of primary industries.

Based in the Nelson Tasman region, Cawthron works with regional councils, government departments, major industries, private companies, and other research organisations throughout New Zealand and around the world. Cawthron is a diverse organisation employing more than 250 scientists, laboratory technicians, researchers and specialist staff from 26 countries.

Cawthron’s scientists have expertise in aquaculture research, marine and freshwater resource management, food safety and quality, algal technologies, biosecurity and analytical testing. Its ground-breaking science is supported by substantial testing and research laboratories, state-of-the-art technology and a purpose-built aquaculture park. Cawthron’s Aquaculture Park also houses a recently-opened Finfish Research Centre designed to deliver commercially-relevant science to enable improved stock management and husbandry and support the development and growth of the finfish industry.

Cawthron’s future developments include its upcoming National Algae Centre which will enable Cawthron to expand its internationally-recognised work in the rapidly growing algae sector and create value for existing and future partners.Cawthron has more than 30 years of expertise in algae research, from microscopic level through to the impact of algae in our marine ecosystems, and is one of only a few organisations worldwide to specialise in extracting high-value bioactive compounds from algae. Construction of the Centre is scheduled to begin by October 2020.

For more information go to

  • 05/08/2019 - 07/08/2019
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  • 09:00 - 17:00
  • Rutherford Hotel , Nelson, NZ