The Moana Project's Tiro Moana (Eyes on the Sea): Developing a sensor for ocean data collection by the seafood sector to improve ocean prediction in New Zealand

Brett Beamsley1, J K Jakoboski2, Moninya Roughan3, Joao Marcos Azevedo Correia de Souza2 and John Radford4, (1)MetService, MetOcean, Raglan, New Zealand, (2)New Zealand Meteorological Service (MetService), MetOcean Division, Raglan, New Zealand, (3)New Zealand Meteorological Service (MetService), MetOcean Division, Auckland, New Zealand, (4)Zebra-Tech Ltd, New Zealand
New Zealand (NZ) derives wealth and wellbeing from the ocean, including a seafood sector worth $4.18B annually, and yet, their oceans are poorly understood. Ocean circulation drives the transport of larvae, determines population connectivity and impacts fisheries recruitment and abundance, all of which are being impacted by ocean warming and changes in circulation patterns. The Moana Project aims to develop an integrated ocean observing and modelling program with the goal of improving NZ’s ability to comprehensively measure, observe or predict the state of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by working with ocean data holders, ocean stakeholders, and developing a new ocean sensor.

There is a vast amount of ocean observation data that is owned by a wide range of organizations throughout NZ, yet there is a need for a single database where this data can be catalogued and accessed. The Moana Project will connect these organizations with the New Zealand Ocean Data Portal (NZODN) and provide a pathway for collecting NZ’s historical ocean observations into an open access database that will benefit both ocean data holders and stakeholders in NZ.

Embracing crowdsourcing concept, we are developing a low-cost smart ocean temperature sensor to be deployed throughout NZ’s EEZ by the seafood sector. With support of industry partners, indigenous and recreational fishing communities, we will revolutionize ocean data collection in NZ. Temperature profile data will be returned in near real time via the cell phone or satellite network and ingested into data assimilating ocean prediction models, leading to an open-access nationwide Ocean Analysis and Prediction System, delivered by the NZ Meteorological Service.

We will greatly increase the number of coastal sub-surface temperature observations available for data assimilation, thereby increasing model accuracy and predictability. We show the benefit of partnering with end users to collect and return research quality datasets that are relevant for industry needs. This project will provide a more complete picture of ocean temperatures, circulation and dynamics, and the relationships with fishery recruitment variability, aiding prediction and underpinning economic growth for NZ’s seafood sector ensuring long-term sustainability.