International conference tackles harmful algae threats

[New Zealand] The world’s experts in harmful algal blooms and marine biotoxins will descend on Wellington next week for the 16th International Conference on Harmful Algae (ICHA), hosted this year by Cawthron Institute.

Around 500 world-leading scientists and representatives from government agencies, the seafood and aquaculture industries, and environmental organisations are expected to attend

the biennial conference on 27 to 31 October. Find out more: Go to the conference website (www.icha2014nz.com) or read the full programme.

Harmful algal blooms are an increasing problem in rivers, lakes and oceans worldwide. They can be highly toxic, are a serious health risk, and threaten our fisheries and aquaculture sectors through fish and shellfish poisoning, and cost industries and governments millions of dollars in environmental monitoring each year.

“The problem of harmful algal blooms is an important issue in many freshwater and marine environments throughout the world,” says Cawthron Institute Senior Scientist Dr Lincoln Mackenzie, a world-leading researcher on the topic.

“Changes in climate and land use, population growth and greater demands on our freshwater and marine resources are seeing algal blooms becoming more common. The more we understand about harmful algae, the more we can do to mitigate and manage their effects. This conference is crucial to making that happen.”

The 5-day conference brings researchers, regulators, industry and environmental representatives together to advance knowledge of this global issue and explore ways science can be applied to meet the challenges of the future. Cawthron Institute, a world-leader in algal bloom research and management, secured the conference for New Zealand in 2012. It has organised the event with support from other key New Zealand organisations involved in algal bloom management and research including AgResearch, Marlborough Shellfish Quality Programme, Ministry for Primary Industries, NIWA and the Universities of Waikato and Canterbury.

Knowledge gained from the conference will be used to help primary industries, governments and communities better mitigate and manage the impact of harmful algae, including on seafood exports and human health.

Discussion topics include:

  • Impacts of harmful algal blooms on ecosystems, public health and fisheries, including shellfish and finfish aquaculture.
  • Harmful algae in marine and freshwater environments including cyanobacteria, Didymo and ciguatera fish poisoning.
  • Management and mitigation of harmful algal blooms including modelling, remote sensing and prediction of harmful algal blooms.
  • Toxicology and international regulation of algal toxins in food.

About Cawthron Institute

Cawthron Institute is New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, specialising in seafood safety and analysis, marine and freshwater ecosystems, and aquaculture breeding and husbandry.It is a world leader in microalgae, algal biotechnology and harmful algal blooms and holds the national collection of New Zealand microalgae, which underpins research worldwide. It is also a centre of excellence for seafood safety research and leads the Government-funded Safe New Zealand Seafood programme, which monitors and mitigates health risks to the seafood sector, particularly marine biotoxins produced by harmful algae.

 

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