On a beautiful, sunny, flat, calm Wednesday, thirteen Year 12 and 13 students and Primary Industries teacher Esther Hancock set out from Nelson Port aboard the MV Grey Heron; a rather beautiful catamaran mussel farm boat.
With skipper Kris Solly at the helm it took about an hour to get to Whakitenga Bay where the students got to see a world leading oyster farm in action. On the journey we were treated to the sight of dolphins and gannets busily fishing. Aaron Pannell of Flip Farm explained how he came up with some revolutionary solutions to some of the problems traditional oyster farming has suffered from https://www.flipfarm.co.nz/.
We learned about how the oysters grow and develop and how they have to be taken out of the water regularly to be graded and returned. Because the flip farm system is so efficient Aaron had to design a grader that could keep up with the process and we got to see the prototype in operation. After meeting with the pet oyster (!) we went on to look at the mussel farm operation which is more low-tech.
On the boat, after fruit and brownies, Emilee Benjamin a PhD student working for NIWA and Dave Taylor from Aquaculture NZ spoke about how they got into the industry.
Kirsten Norfield from NMIT described the courses on offer. Students Fergus Hart and Trent Wallace, currently studying level 3 Primary Industries and Earth and Marine Sciences declared that they thought that the trip was “great” and at least one of them is seriously considering getting into Aquaculture. The trip was ably organised by Nelly (Jenelle) Strickland (Vocational Coordinator Nelson Regional Development Agency) and Amanda McNamara from Marine Farming Association.