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Bay of Plenty Receives German Funding

by the Fish Site Editor
19 May 2009, at 1:00am

GENERAL - A major centre of research excellence is being established in Tauranga involving the University of Waikato and Germanys University of Bremen. Called INTERCOAST, interdisciplinary researchers from the two universities will work together on projects that focus on the Bay of Plenty coast and inner continental shelf, and comparable areas of the North Sea.

More than $5 million is being provided by the German government through the German Research Foundation (DFG) with local funding and in-kind support for the centre now being organised, potentially including stakeholders such as the Regional Development Fund.

“This centre will ensure that Tauranga harbour and its port will be the most comprehensively researched harbour in Australasia,” says Waikato University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Doug Sutton. “The issues surrounding the area involve environmental and social sciences, law and management and the collaboration means we can draw on Northern Hemisphere research and experience when planning for the harbour’s long-term growth and enhanced profitability.”

INTERCOAST will start in November this year and for the next nine years as many as 39 PhD students, along with postdoctoral fellows, all recruited internationally, will work on a variety of coastal projects significant to both the North Sea and Bay of Plenty coasts.

These projects have been developed with input from Environment Bay of Plenty and the Port of Tauranga, and include impacts of harbour development on ecosystems, protection and utilisation of harbour and coastline, management of shared and migratory fish stocks, sediment studies and habitat dynamics, and opportunities for open ocean aquaculture.

The idea for a coastal research unit has been driven by Waikato University’s Research Professor of Coastal Environmental Science Terry Healy. He’s had a long association with Bremen University and in particular Professor Gerold Wefer whom Prof Healy describes as a ‘super star’ in his field and who has spent time at Waikato University as a prestigious Julius Von Haast Fellow, funded by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.

“This is a high-level agreement,” says Prof Healy, “and something quite special. It’s the first project to come out of the New Zealand-Germany Science and Technological Agreement and covers two of the identified six priority areas for collaborative research in the agreement, namely environmental change and marine.

“Bremen has one of the world’s top five oceanographic institutes and so we’re teaming up with some of the best in the business, coupled with the support of major organisations in the Bay of Plenty to carry out this important work.”

INTERCOAST will strengthen the University of Waikato’s links with Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, and will be the first investment by the university of internationally recognised research clusters in the Bay of Plenty.

the Fish Site Editor

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