NIWA receives $8 million for marine research projects


The increasing threat of marine pests to New Zealand’s biosecurity is the focus of a major new research project to be conducted by NIWA scientists.

As world trade and travel has expanded and diversified, New Zealand’s unique marine biodiversity has become particularly vulnerable to introduced species because of our relative isolation from other coastal regions.

Dr Rob Murdoch, NIWA’s general manager research, says New Zealand’s ability to manage these threats is limited by our understanding of their behaviour and impact in our waters.

“We need well-targeted measures to reduce the establishment and spread of non-indigenous species but it is difficult to justify spending on management programmes when the benefits are uncertain.

“This research project aims to enhance protection for New Zealand’s native ecosystems from better understanding of the impacts of the non-indigenous species.”

A funding grant of $3m has been allocated for the programme from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2015 science investment round, announced yesterday by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

Dr Murdoch said the grant would also new methods to measure the impacts and forecast the future threats.

“One of the key goals of this project is that the environmental, economic, social and cultural values at risk from non-indigenous species are better protected by effective management. The research will develop new knowledge and approaches needed to prioritise investment in biosecurity.

“NIWA is delighted to have received this money which will enable us to use our science to provide high quality insights to underpin important decisions for the future of New Zealand and New Zealanders.”

A total of $96.5 million over the next four years across 48 new science research programmes, was allocated this week with more than half been awarded to research in the environmental and biological fields. 

NIWA also received $4.9 million to research ocean acidification and its impacts on New Zealand marine ecosystems.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced the funding grants and said research-led science was a key driver of economic growth.

“The Government’s science investment aims to produce excellent science that has the greatest capacity to benefit New Zealand,” Mr Joyce said.

New Zealand is facing increasing biosecurity threats from marine pests. [Credit Crispin Middleton, NIWA]


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Archived on 11 April 2019