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PhD opportunity in open ocean aquaculture and applied fish physiology and behaviour

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, October 01, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The New Zealand government has an ambition of reaching $1 billion of sales from aquaculture by 2025, meaning that the $500 million revenue earned in 2018 must be doubled over a relatively short space of time in a country that has limited inshore licenses for aquaculture. To facilitate the government’s goal for major expansion, finfish aquaculture in New Zealand must extend into the open-ocean where production is both limitless and sustainable long term. Growing fish offshore in high energy sites has been attempted in other countries such as Norway but off-shore structures are usually always heavily engineered and fixed to set locations that grow fish under sub-optimal conditions for extended periods of the year. New innovative developments in New Zealand are proposing to maintain fish in novel enclosures that have the capacity to move and maintain fish under optimal conditions year round. As part of this development, research is required to understand what is considered “optimal” for different species of farmed fish and how the physiology and behaviour of these species interact to influence preferred environmental conditions (e.g. water temperature and flow etc) for the best level of productivity and welfare. We are therefore looking for a PhD student to work on the following project:

Defining the optimal biological conditions for farmed fish in offshore farming structures

Candidates should have a Masters degree or equivalent, with excellent grades, appropriate research experience, and be willing to work within a large, well-resourced, multi-disciplinary project. The project will involve designing experiments that can test the preference physiology and behaviour of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and the New Zealand snapper (Chryophrys auratus). The ultimate goal is to identify optimal temperature and flow conditions that minimise the physiological costs of fish whilst simultaneously enhancing welfare. The PhD position will mainly involve 3 aspects: i) Defining optimal biological conditions with lab-based preference tests using large-scale choice tanks and swim flume facilities partnered with behavioural video analysis software. ii) Understanding the routine swimming behaviour of our keystone species at different densities in high volume enclosures. Iii) Developing bio-telemetric methods capable of monitoring the physiological and behavioural preference state of fish in high volume enclosures. The information derived from this PhD is ultimately intended to inform the design process of the mobile fish enclosure systems and thus requires a high level of self-motivation, pragmatism, good communication skills and a willingness to work within a dedicated team environment.

The PhD opportunity will start no later than 1st Oct 2020.

For more information feel free to contact Dr Neill Herbert ().
To apply please send a cover letter, CV and academic transcript to Dr Neill Herbert.

Funding Notes

A three year scholarship is available that includes an annual stipend and annual tuition fees. The position will be based at the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory for snapper but candidates should expect and be prepared for extended periods of time in Nelson at Plant and Food and for challenging field assessments.

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