The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington

The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington will receive $13 million (GST exclusive) over 7 years for the data science programme “A data-science driven evolution of aquaculture for building the blue economy”. On this page is the public statement from our contract with The Research Trust of Victoria University of Wellington.

Aquaculture is New Zealand’s best opportunity to sustainably grow its Blue Economy, yet the industry is facing significant challenges in achieving its $1 Billon revenue target by 2025. We now have more mussel farms, but the total annual yield hasn’t increased. Could it be due to climate change? The industry depends on natural sources of spat (mussel larvae) found in springtime off Ninety Mile Beach. Little is known about where it comes from – or how best to get spat to adhere to the growing ropes. Mussel farming relies on experience, but conditions change from farm to farm and season to season.

The aquaculture industry thinks that data science could be the answer. By bringing marine scientists together with specialists in machine learning, modelling, and data visualization, we will develop new science to support decision-making, so farm managers can respond to climate challenges, manage disease, improve production yields, and farm sustainably at scale. Applying data science to marine farming makes sense. 

In this programme, we will develop innovative data science techniques that will enable the aquaculture industry to produce efficiently and at large scale, producing high-quality, low-carbon protein for New Zealand and the world without compromising the environment. To do this, we will build data science knowledge in the industry.

Māori own large aquaculture assets.  With our partners Whakatōhea and the Wakatū Incorporation, we will co-design a programme to educate young Māori in data science and create the next generation of industry leaders. All our students, from undergraduate to PhD, will work with industry within the research programme and through internships and summer projects.

Aquaculture data poses immense challenges for the researchers, so our programme is led by our best data scientists, guided by distinguished international researchers. Our students will learn from the world’s best.