Forecasting contamination risk for shellfish harvest and beach use
We have developed a near real-time forecasting tool for Tasman and Golden Bays to help predict when aquaculture sites and beaches are safe to access.
Project leader: Ben Knight, Cawthron Institute
Duration: February 2017 – September 2019
Seawater in Tasman and Golden Bays is periodically contaminated with bacteria, causing temporary closure of commercial shellfish harvest and public beaches. The aquaculture industry and regional councils want more accurate and timely forecasting to better predict and manage risk. We are creating the first near real-time forecasting tool for the region, which will improve the prediction of contamination risk.
The coasts are at the ‘end of the pipe’ for discharge from local rivers and streams, so seawater quality is sometimes compromised by bacteria from land-based activities. This can affect the revenue of shellfish growing areas and close local beaches to public use.
Although improved land management practices may ultimately reduce contamination risk, our research aims to improve forecasting so that beaches are not closed when bacterial levels are within safe limits and harvesting of shellfish is not unnecessarily delayed.
Our team of national experts, from the Cawthron Institute, NIWA and MetOcean Solutions Limited, have built connected models from the land to the region’s main rivers to the sea. We have combined river flow estimates with river bacterial measurements to predict contaminant discharges on the coast. The model is a daily forecast – like a weather map – of river plumes entering the sea and contaminant measurements that accurately estimate contaminant risk.
Latest news and updates
Te tai ra, Te tai ra
Te tai ra e pari ana ki hea
E pari ana ki te kauheke tangata
Ka rongo te ao
Kua rongo te po
E te rangatira
Kua riro atu koe ki te kapunipunitanga o te tangata. Ko te reo o te taiao tera e rangona atu i te mūnga o tōu na reo.
Ka waiho ma maumahara koe e mahara ki ou mahi rangatira i te wa o te ora. No reira, Haere atu ra, haere atu ra, okioki mai.
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.