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Strengthening New Zealand’s Sustainable Aquaculture with Data Science

Data Science for New Zealand Aquaculture Industry

A collaboration led by Victoria University of Wellington has received NZ$ 13 million in funding to help New Zealand transition to a zero-carbon society by applying data science for New Zealand aquaculture industry.

As reported, the project aims to develop innovative data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning techniques that will enable the aquaculture industry to keep growing efficiently and at large scale.

Achieving a Zero-Carbon Society

  • They aim to produce high-quality, low-carbon protein for New Zealand and the world without compromising the environment.
  • The University is working with Plant & Food Research, Cawthron Institute, and University of Otago researchers on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded project.
  • The collaboration will develop data science tools to optimise the farming of Greenshell™ mussels and finfish in open ocean farms.
  • The collaboration will be led by a Professor from the University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Leveraging on Data Science for Aquaculture Industry

  • The Professor explained that collecting and incorporating various types of data through this project will unlock significant advantages for the aquaculture industry.
  • Farm managers can use these data to drive decision-making when responding to climate challenges, managing disease, improving production yields, and farming sustainably at scale.
  • The research team is aiming to develop innovative evolutionary and statistical learning techniques for use in the aquaculture industry.
  • These learning techniques will help create better AI, which can be used to expand the capacity of the mussel and finfish farms.
  • It is exciting to see data science becoming more integrated into New Zealand’s growing aquaculture sector to allow for more precise decision making and efficient production for the future.

Building Māori Capacity

A significant focus for the programme is building Māori capacity in data science. Māori own significant aquaculture assets but are under-represented in the field of data science.

The project will address that as it brings together data science and Māori communities with aquaculture interests.

The intention is to help produce the next generation of Māori graduates capable of leading the technology development needed to scale up the industry.

Boosting Data Science in New Zealand

Hopefully, this project will increase New Zealand’s overall capacity in data science by embedding academically trained, early-career scientists across a range of organisations linked to the aquaculture sector, alongside the data science programmes available and being developed at the University.

A total of 12 PhDs, 16 Master’s and 35 honours students will be involved in the project along with 5 postdoctoral fellows and 35 summer research projects.

The project also aims to foster national and international collaboration, bringing together a large group of educational, industry, and research organisations from New Zealand and around the world.

A lead researcher on the project from Cawthron Institute explained that aquaculture requires smart, data-driven decision making to help meet the government’s target of aquaculture being a 3-billion-dollar industry by 2035.

This new collaboration brings together world-leading data science and aquaculture science expertise with decades of industry experience.

New Zealand is set to become a global centre of excellence in data science and technologies for sustainable aquaculture.


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