Ocean acidification mitigation strategies for the mussel industry
We are testing techniques to raise the pH of coastal waters around mussel farms to improve shellfish growth.
Project leader: Cliff Law, NIWA/University of Otago
Duration: February 2017 – September 2019
Coastal waters are becoming more acidic due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and local processes such as microbial respiration. This is a threat to Aotearoa New Zealand’s shellfish aquaculture industry, because mussels are less healthy and don’t grow as well at lower pH.
We are testing two techniques to see how effective they are at alleviating acidification around mussel farms. The first involves using waste mussel shells, which could raise pH and dissolved carbonate as they break down. The second is strategic aeration of farm waters at night, when oxygen and pH are naturally lower.
In May 2018, in collaboration with the New Zealand seafood company Sanford, we measured the impact of these techniques at one of their mussel farms. The results are being used in hydrodynamic models, to estimate the benefits for mussel farms at the top of the South Island. We will also test the impact of these techniques on the survival and condition of mussel spat and juveniles.
In addition to assisting the shellfish aquaculture industry, this research may contribute to mitigation of acidification in natural coastal ecosystems.
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We invite NZ-based researchers, industry, stakeholders and Māori to submit expressions of Interest (EoIs) for research projects that will contribute directly to building a ‘blue economy’ in Aotearoa.
Last week (3–5 March), schoolchildren from across New Zealand travelled with LEARNZ and the Sustainable Seas Challenge to discover what's threatening mussels/kuku or kūtai, a taonga species, in Ōhiwa Harbour, and how science and mātauranga Māori are being combined by local kaitiaki to understand – and address – the problem.