Aquaculture an eye-opener for pupils

Learning about shellfish during a visit to Cawthron Institute’s aquaculture park in Nelson are ...
Learning about shellfish during a visit to Cawthron Institute’s aquaculture park in Nelson are (from left) Charlotte Hayes, Rachael Turner and Pippa Collins, watched by Richard de Hamel. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A field trip to Nelson earlier this month has shown a group of Dunedin secondary school pupils a completely different type of farming involving shellfish.

The year 13 agribusiness class from John McGlashan College and Columba College spent a day at the Cawthron Institute’s Aquaculture Park learning about mussel farming.

Cawthron is New Zealand’s largest independent science research organisation. It is focused on protecting the environment and supporting the sustainable development of primary industries.

John McGlashan agribusiness teacher Brent Wolf said it was the first time the annual field trip had ventured into aquaculture.

"That is the good thing about coming here – it’s different and it’s opening their eyes up to a whole new industry. I’ve been blown away by it.

‘‘Seeing the way people are adapting and changing their farming – whether it be in aquaculture, horticulture or whatever – it’s becoming more scientific and less left to chance."

In the midst of dissecting a mussel, Columba pupils Pippa Collins, Rachael Turner and Charlotte Hayes agreed.

"This is pretty cool. It’s not something we would get to experience at home."

The class at Cawthron Aquaculture Park was led by University of Otago educator Richard de Hamel who provides learning experience outside the classroom across Nelson and Marlborough for the NZ Marine Studies Centre.

A Cawthron aquaculture scientist also spoke to the pupils about environmental impacts, toxic blooms, open ocean farming and new technologies.

The visit marked the start of the annual mussel biology workshops that Mr de Hamel has delivered to Year 13 pupils for the last decade.

The classes are a collaboration between the University of Otago, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, SpatNZ and the Cawthron Institute. At present celebrating its 100th anniversary, Cawthron runs and supports community initiatives that inspire future generations of scientists.

The pupils also visited Agfirst, Appleby Farms and Havelock Marina as part of their field trip.

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