Interview: Glenn Farrington, Sanford
Glenn Farrington is an aquaculture scientist with Sanford, New Zealand’s biggest seafood company. He manages the company’s research and development programmes and liaises with external research providers as well as evaluating scientific evidence for farm resource consents and management.
Glenn attended the Sustainable Seas Challenge’s initial stakeholder workshops held in 2014 and co-development workshops this year. He has also been involved with a research project led by NIWA researcher Cliff Law.
“I became involved with Cliff's project because I believe delving deeper into research is important for our business at Sanford. Historically the publicly-funded science that’s been done in New Zealand has been great, but not always directly relevant to industry needs.
“Cliff was studying how to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on mussel farms, which was of interest to us. His project had lab experiments planned but not field ones, which is what we need to show proof-of-concept and test practicalities. So I arranged for Cliff to access our Sanford ecofarm to run field experiments.
“The ecofarm is a working aquaculture farm where we test new technologies. We are using it to trial sustainable products and reduce farm waste, everything from using plant-based ropes, to different floats systems and configurations.
“Although ocean acidification isn't a problem for us yet, climate change is already affecting the oceans – water temperature in the Sounds has been higher than usual for the last two years – so we are very focused on how to manage the impacts of this in the future. We want to explore mitigation strategies now so we can future-proof our farms. We're keen to pre-empt issues like this and have strategies in place before problems arise.
“Cliff’s research has helped us get a baseline of acidification measures during the day and night time. He has looked at the effects of ocean acidification on spat and our crop. These baselines are essential to monitor any future changes and develop mitigation strategies.
“Cliff has trialled waste mussel shells on farm to mitigate acidification, and this shows promise. If this works it’s a win-win for us, as we can use a waste product to improve growing conditions.
“Aquaculture faces a number of challenges that would benefit from more research. Amongst them spat retention, as well as more knowledge about the seaweed that we harvest spat from.
"Collaborating with partners is the most effective and efficient way of tackling challenges like these. Sanford can provide farm space, vessels and crew as 'in kind' support as long as there are demonstrable benefits for the industry.”
Sanford accounts for more than 40% of New Zealand’s farmed Greenshell mussels. It grows mussels in four main areas: Marlborough Sounds, Golden Bay/Mohua and Tasman Bay/Te Tai-o-Aorere, Coromandel, and Stewart Island/Rakiura.