A piece in the local paper a few days ago described the presentation of a prestigious award to a Nelson scientist. Dr Henry Kaspar received a special President’s Award for research-based innovation for industry at the Royal Society of New Zealand.
The award was specifically for his work on starting the world’s only selective breeding programme for mussels. It is well-deserved. Henry has made a huge contribution to the Cawthron Institute over the last few decades. It was Henry who identified the perfect location for an aquaculture research centre, at the Glen just north of Nelson. Henry was the one who backed a young PhD student, Sam Buchanan, who solved the problem that had baffled government scientists for many years: how to grow the unique New Zealand green shell mussel in a hatchery. It was Henry who insisted that Cawthron embark on an ambitious selective breeding programme, rather than spend years fine tuning hatchery technology.
It is a big step for industry. A massive investment of capital will be required before shellfish growers and processors can take advantage of the considerable benefits arising from this research. However, it seems as if the first steps in that direction are already being taken. We heard recently about plans for the world’s largest shellfish hatchery, to be set up alongside Cawthron’s research facilities.
I doubt very much that would have been possible without Henry’s efforts. Well done!