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International Expert Appointed For Aquaculture Role

by 5m Editor
4 October 2010, at 1:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology is pleased to announce that Dr Mark Burdass will head up the new Diploma in Aquaculture (Fish Farming and Fishery Management). The first intake for the Diploma begins next year. Its the first time an aquaculture qualification at this level has been offered in the heart of the New Zealand Aquaculture industry in the top of the South Island.

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology is pleased to announce that Dr Mark Burdass will head up the new Diploma in Aquaculture (Fish Farming and Fishery Management). The first intake for the Diploma begins next year. It’s the first time an aquaculture qualification at this level has been offered in the heart of the New Zealand Aquaculture industry in the top of the South Island.

Dr Burdass is a leading international aquaculture educationalist and consultant based in the United Kingdom, with over 20 years experience in the field including over two decades at Sparsholt College - the largest fish and fisheries college in the UK.

He was initially hired by NMIT to design the new Diploma in Aquaculture programme and advise on facilities and outfitting the new learning areas at Cawthron’s Aquaculture Innovation Centre at Glenduan.

“It became a real passion and I got to meet the people and see the region while I was here working. When I was offered the job of running the programme I was absolutely thrilled. From a professional point of view, it means a lot to be able to design and then implement a new programme that brings something different to the local and national aquaculture training scene.

"From a personal point of view, I love this region and I’ve even got some former students from the UK who now live and work here, so it feels very exciting to be starting a new life here,” says Dr Burdass.

NMIT Chief Executive Tony Gray says it’s a real coup to have attracted Dr Burdass to come to Nelson and NMIT.

“He’s recognised internationally as a leader in his field of marine farming teaching. To be able to offer our students someone of this calibre in this new field for us is fantastic. He brings the latest knowledge and expertise to his role.”

Mark Burdass has just been granted residency and will arrive in Nelson to take up his role in early December.

Already the new two year Diploma in Aquaculture programme is attracting attention with over 45 expressions of interest received from around New Zealand and overseas.

Dr Burdass is not surprised at the interest as this Diploma offers something unique in New Zealand in terms of a cold water Aquaculture qualification.

“Unlike other aquaculture programmes offered, this diploma has had an unprecedented level of industry involvement in developing content and also ensuring the students have direct links with employers while they’re on the programme. The focus of the course is a vocational one, so students will feel more confident going into industry as they have already done some work there.”

The diploma also includes components on business, management, and people skills which the industry believes are vital to prepare workers. The Diploma will be taught at NMIT in Nelson and at new purpose-built facilities, designed by Dr Burdass, at the Cawthron Aquaculture Innovation Centre, on the outskirts of Nelson.

Already he’s fired up with a mission to keep the Diploma programme the most up-to-date it can be.

“I helped developed the programme before taking on the job and I know it’s current on a global basis. With my experience in international aquaculture I can keep it current over the coming years. That’s very important to me - that each graduate goes out into the workplace armed with the most recent knowledge and skills. That’s how we can take the industry forward,” says Dr Burdass.

With a PhD from Plymouth University specializing in larval fish development, and many years experience working in the aquaculture industry in countries as varied as Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and France he brings a wealth of industry knowledge to complement his academic background.

Dr Burdass says this new Diploma, which is the only aquaculture qualification at this level in New Zealand, is for anyone who wants a career in the marine or freshwater environment.

“You do need a level of basic school science to do this. The whole industry in the way it is moving forward is dictated by a scientific advancement. So you need to have that. But the range of careers you can go into is wide – from working on the marine farms to lab work back on shore and many other career options along the way.”

Head of Cawthron’s Aquaculture Programme, Henry Kaspar says they’re looking forward to working with Dr Burdass and NMIT, and to learning from his experience.

“Mark’s experience and enthusiasm for both aquaculture and education will make him very effective at developing the potential of students as well as liaising with industry. He can inspire his students but he will also not shy away from exposing them to the less glamorous aspects of work in aquaculture. A major aspect of the course will be student placements in industry, and Mark understands the value of these placements for the development of the students,” he says.

5m Editor