Aquaculture involves the farming and management of aquatic plants and animals to supplement the natural supply. Current biotechnology focuses on enhancing productivity and looking for unique products.
In New Zealand, the aquaculture industry specialises in farming the green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) and the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Other species that are farmed are king salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and the New Zealand abalone (known locally as pāua, Haliotis iris).
Increasing the productivity of these aquaculture farms is an important biotechnology research area, particularly with the depletion of the world's fisheries and concerns about the effects of pollution on seafood.
Worldwide research efforts also indicated that the sea is a rich source of new and potentially improved products in many arenas.
The seas around New Zealand are of specific interest because of the huge number of living organisms which have great genetic variation, abundant breeding habits, and short life spans- qualities that make them useful subjects for significant research and commercial opportunities.
NIWA and other New Zealand organisations are increasingly investing time and expertise in the hunt for potentially useful molecules from these organisms.
- 20 September 2007