Looking to the big blue to go green.

Looking to the big blue to go green.

Rossella Nicolai, aquaculture tutor at NMIT Te Pūkenga, came from Italy to New Zealand to study marine biology and ecology.
Rossella Nicolai Aquaculture
Rossella Nicolai is an aquaculture tutor at NMIT | Te Pūkenga.

Rossella is fascinated with algae and completed her thesis around problematic algae blooms.

“I have always been passionate about algae, macro and micro, so I leapt at the opportunity to work at Cawthron as a Senior Aquaculture Technician on Asparagopsis,” she says.

Asparagopsis is a kind of macroalgae, or seaweed, that produces bromoform, a compound that can reduce the amount of methane a cow produces.

“People want to cultivate this seaweed to introduce it dry into cattle feed,” Rossella explains.

This has ‘opened the pandora box’, as Rossella looks at how to effectively scale the production of seaweed for this purpose.

Asparagopsis has quite a complicated life cycle, and we need to figure out how to induce each step to produce it at scale,” she says. “Once this is achieved in a land-based hatchery, there are many other factors to consider to maximize yields in the ocean, and make the industry sustainable and economically viable.”

Rossella has looked at different cultures for inspiration. Many Eastern cultures produce nori, ogonori and kumbu at scale, for food or for valuable seaweed-derived products like agar. In Ireland, seaweed was traditionally harvested from the wild and burned to make soap and glazes for pottery, and it still often features in the local diets.

“Seaweeds are the future,” Rossella says, “there are so many opportunities and now is definitely a great time to get involved.”

At NMIT, we are well positioned to benefit hugely in the aquaculture sector. Not only geographically, but also due to the many industries that are established in the region.

Our passionate tutors are also leading researchers in their respective fields, offering ākonga (students) the opportunity to learn from the best.

If you’re looking at a unique approach to a career dedicated to a sustainable future, consider aquaculture at NMIT | Te Pūkenga(external link).

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