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New Zealand R&D award made to industry oriented scientist with a special interest in geoduck

Kevin Heasman was awarded the Research and Development Award, which recognizes the aquaculture scientist's contribution to a number of science challenges and opportunities relevant to the marine farming industry – including field trials exploring the potential for marine farming in New Zealand of Geoduck (Panopea zealandica).

August 27, 2012

NEW ZEALAND - The practical and collaborative approach of a Cawthron Institute scientist towards the development of a potential new marine market has earned a coveted industry award.

Kevin Heasman was awarded the Research and Development Award at the Marine Farming Associations (MFA) annual awards dinner in Blenheim. The award recognizes the aquaculture scientist's contribution to a number of science challenges and opportunities relevant to the marine farming industry – including field trials exploring the potential for marine farming in New Zealand of Geoduck (Panopea zealandica).

Kevin Heasman was unaware he was in the running for the award which is decided on by industry, not by application. 

"Everything I do is directed at the industry, at what industry does, and it is nice to know that it is appreciated and very pleasing to have it acknowledged in this way, by the industry itself."

In making the award, the Marine Farmers Association noted Kevin's enthusiasm and strength in working alongside industry to develop coal face solutions for farmers – which Kevin Heasman acknowledges is key to getting the work done. 

"At the end of the day without a close collaboration with industry members who are providing their time, water space and expertise it would be very difficult to move my research from a pure academic exercise into practical field testing.

"It probably helps that I am not what you might call a pure scientist, more of a practical one, which allows me to apply experience working on boats, for example, with knowledge gained from the laboratory to my research and activities."

Kevin Heasman has been working at the Cawthron Institute for the past 12 years since arriving from Zimbabwe – originally on hull fouling, and a series of toxic algal blooms.

Now working in the Aquaculture and Biotechnology Group, he has been tasked with developing the seawater side of Cawthron’s Geoduck development program – a program Chief Executive, Charles Eason, says could be the next big thing for the local industry going forward.

"We are looking to provide another arrow in the aquaculture quiver if you like, by providing a new species which is showing increasing potential for our local industry."

"Demand for Geoduck, which is one of the largest clams in the world, has grown significantly in recent decades especially from the Asian market. Kevin's research, which will see the clam growing or about to grow in the Bay of Plenty, Marlborough and Northland, is a key element in opening the door to that market for New Zealand providing opportunities both for existing and new industry members."

Charles Eason considers the Marine Farmers Association award to be a significant accolade for the aquaculture scientist and says the Institute is pleased to see his work recognised in such a way by industry.

Kevin Heasman has also been involved in projects relating to biosecurity and open ocean aquaculture during his time at the Cawthron Institute.

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