12 Aug 2014

DNA role in aquaculture mooted

10:07 am on 12 August 2014

New Zealand scientists are using next-generation DNA analysis and robotics to massively reduce the time and money needed to monitor the environmental impact of aquaculture.

Scientists are using DNA analysis and robotics to make monitoring the environmental impact of aquaculture easier.

Scientists are using DNA analysis and robotics to make monitoring the environmental impact of aquaculture easier. Photo: PHOTO NZ

At present, fish farms have to pay scientists to analyse seabed samples under a microscope to ensure the farms are within their consent requirements - it is a costly, slow and labour intensive process.

Scientists at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson said the new the technology will be commercially available in two years and is a win both for industry and the environment.

Dr Xavier Pochon at the Cawthron Institute said the new technique will halve the cost of sampling and cut processing time from up to eight months to three weeks.

Another scientist involved in the government-funded project, Dr Susie Wood, says it could also ease concerns about environmental damage from fish farms as the data would provide more accurate base line data.

The scientists said the same technology could also be used to monitor the effects of dairying and deep sea mineral extraction on water quality.