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US-NZ workshop to tackle ocean acidification

2 December 2013

US-NZ workshop to tackle ocean acidification

Around 60 shellfish aquaculture experts will converge on Nelson this week to attend a joint New Zealand-United States workshop to consider the best ways to future-proof New Zealand’s shellfish aquaculture industry from ocean acidification.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Director of Aquaculture, Growth & Innovation, Kathy Mansell says that New Zealand has a five-year strategy for aquaculture that includes investigating the impact of climate change and measures to adapt and respond.

“The workshop represents an aspect of New Zealand’s aquaculture strategy in action. It will enable New Zealand experts to obtain a greater understanding about the issues from our American counterparts and to discuss potential solutions as well as foster the exchange of knowledge between scientists, industry and policy makers from both countries.”

Ocean acidification is the progressive increase in the acidity of the ocean, which is caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide. After experiencing a dramatic decline in production rates of the Pacific oyster larvae in 2007, the aquaculture industry of the United States’ Pacific Northwest coast worked with scientists and policy makers to implement new technologies to combat the effects of ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is not currently a major problem for the New Zealand aquaculture industry. However, it is important that ocean monitoring systems are in place to enable the Government to track future changes in ocean chemistry.

“There are key lessons to be learned from our colleagues in the United States that will assist us in focusing research, planning and management practices to enable the industry to grow despite pH decline,” says Cawthron Institute aquaculture scientist Dr Norman Ragg.

The New Zealand aquaculture industry is currently worth $350 million per annum.

The workshop entitled “Future Proofing New Zealand’s Shellfish Aquaculture: monitoring and adaptation to ocean acidification” takes place from 3-4 December and will be facilitated by two noted American scientists — Dr Todd Capson from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Dr John Guinotte from the Marine Conservation Institute.

The genesis of the workshop lies in the Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on Science and Technological Cooperation which is a high-level bilateral agreement between New Zealand and the United States. The last JCM was held in the United States in September 2012, where delegates developed a Roadmap of Cooperative Activities for 2012-2014 with four priority topics of which the Ocean Acidification Workshop relates to two: Climate Change Monitoring, Research, and Services in the Pacific; and Marine and Ocean Research.

The workshop is funded by MPI and the United States Department of State with additional funding support from NIWA, the Cawthron Institute and Sanford Limited.

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