PhD Opportunity: Studying Open Ocean Aquaculture at the University of Rostock

About the Project

The University of Rostock, Germany, in cooperation with the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research is offering a PhD position including a 3-year research stipend. The PhD is part of a wider research programme on the development of autonomous open ocean aquaculture systems.

The degree is undertaken by research only and leads to advanced academic and theoretical knowledge in a specialist area. You will make a significant original contribution to knowledge and understanding in your field of study and meet recognized international standards for your work. The assessment will be based on grades, references, relevant experience, interviews, and the candidate’s written motivation for seeking the position.

Scope of the overall research programme.

The New Zealand government has an ambition of reaching $1 billion of sales from aquaculture by 2025, meaning that the $500 million revenue earned in 2018 must be doubled over a relatively short space of time in a country that has limited inshore licenses for aquaculture. To facilitate the government’s goal for major expansion, finfish aquaculture in New Zealand must extend into the open ocean where production is both limitless and more sustainable in the long term. Growing fish in high energy sites has been attempted in other countries such as Norway. Usually, the corresponding offshore structures are heavily engineered and fixed to set locations that grow fish under sub-optimal conditions for extended periods of the year. New innovative developments in New Zealand are proposing to maintain fish in novel enclosures that have the capacity to be mobile and maintain fish under optimal conditions year-round.

As part of this development, research is needed into the design of a novel Autonomous Support Vessel (ASV) that

  • Will provide aquaculture support capabilities (i.e. feed storage, delivery, monitoring)
  • Can achieve low speed towing operations with hydrodynamic structures
  • Can operate in high energy marine environments
  • Is powered by renewable energy, and able to support both continuous and intermittent low speed propulsion
  • Can feasibly be implemented in future commercial aquaculture enterprises

Scope of this PhD research programme

The research will target the development of generic interactions between conceptual mobile ASVs and open ocean operating conditions for novel aquaculture production systems.
Based on different design concepts and the necessary elements to support this novel mobile aquaculture production system, the focus will be on numerical and experimental investigations to determine their seagoing potential as relevant to real-world oceanic scenarios and conceptual aquaculture production scenarios as proposed throughout the overall research programme.
Ultimately, the knowledge created in this PhD programme will inform the creation of an operations capable ASV prototype.


  • Documented knowledge/university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in a discipline appropriate to the proposed research
  • Written and oral proficiency in English

  • The capacity for analytical thinking

  • The ability to collaborate

  • Creativity, initiative, and independence

  • For more information and how to apply, click here.

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