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Volume 21 No. 3 – September 2007

Shared oyster grader for Clyde oysters Value-adding trout at Arc-En-Ciel Royal whiptail catfish makes a splash Cultured amur restore NZ waters Manipulating silver perch flavour Farmers bounce back from QX disaster Breeding yellowbelly flounder Wakool saline basin’s fish harvest


September 2007

www.AustasiaAquaculture.com.au

Editor-in-chief Dr Tim Walker Regular contributors David O'Sullivan John Mosig Dave Field Subscription/editorial Austasia Aquaculture PO Box 658, Rosny, Tas. 7018 Ph: 03 6245 0064 Fax: 03 6245 0068 Email: AustasiaAquaculture@netspace.net.au Advertising Megan Farrer

FA R M P R O F I L E Tassie industry gives barra farmers the environmental message Getting Catty ‘Shared’ oyster grader for Clyde River World first begins with a fishing trip Thurla Farm’s Murray cod Value adding trout at Arc-En-Ciel F E AT U R E

Design/typesetting Beverly Waldie

Silver and white amur ‘clean up’ in waterway restoration An attempt to manipulate the flavour of silver perch Broken Bay oyster farmers bounce back from QX disaster

Prepress Crystal Graphics

NEWS

Printing Focal Prinitng Copyright © by Austasia Aquaculture. Contents cannot be reproduced without permission. Statements made or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Turtle Press Pty Ltd (ABN 98 506 165 857). Austasia Aquaculture magazine (ISSN: 0818 552) is published by Turtle Press Pty Ltd (ABN 98 506 165 857) for the promotion of aquaculture in the Australasian and Asian regions – inclusive of farming in marine, freshwater, brackish and hypersaline waters. Reader's contributions are encouraged on the clear understanding they will be subject to editorial control and, if accepted, will appear in both printed and online versions.

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NAC victory – aquaculture stays off National Pollution Inventory New Zealand oyster industry tour summary South African study tour visits Oz TAFE works with aquaculture industry to tackle skill shortages

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RESEARCH Yellow belly flounder focus of breeding efforts Major study of ornamental fish industry in Australia Wakool saline basin produces a good feed of fish

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A LETTER TO THE EDITOR Prawn imports: Continued caution urged

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TECHNOLOGY A 20 year association with Australasian aquaculture

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CONFERENCE NEWS

Cover photo A montage of photos taken from stories contained in this issue. Captions and photo credits as per the details inside.

Seafood Directions 2007 – Seafood for Tomorrow – Embracing Change

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FISHENEWS/EMPLOYMENT

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MARKET PLACE

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September 2007

www.AustasiaAquaculture.com.au

AGK Technology / Fresh By Design AirEng All Tanks Ajay & Duraplas Tanks Astral / Hurlcon Aquaculture Supplies WA AquaFauna Biomarine Aquahort Aquasonic Aquaspex Aquatic Diagnostic Services International AQUI-S Audentes Investments Austasia Aquaculture - subscription page Australian Monofil Company BGB M arine – Underwater Light & Vision BST Oyster Supplies Buono Net Australia Davey Products Elders Fisheries & Aquaculture Brokers Hanna Instruments HR Browne & Sons Intervet Australia Jeyco - Mooring & Rigging Murray Darling Fisheries Namoi Valley Aquafarming NATI / Professional Development Network Oblomov Trading Plastic Fabrications Pro-Aqua P/L Quinntech P/L Seafood Directions 2007 Seapa SED - Shellfish Equipment Scanz Technologies P/L Skretting Superior Fibreglass Technolab Marketing The Market Place – classified ads Tooltech Tuckaway Engineering Uarah Fish Hatchery Ultra Violet Products (Aust) Wedeco 2 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Inside Front

Outside Back

Inside Back

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30 17 29 43 46 5 12 53 Cover 53 6 21 47 59 45 37 10 31 42 31 29 47 30 36 5 38 34,35 53 37 25 29 Cover 36 22 36 32,33 38 13 63,64 Cover 48 56 45 Cover


FARM PROFILE

Tassie industry gives barra farmers the environmental message

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four day trip was undertaken by ten barramundi farmers (all members of the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, ABFA) in May this year. Funded under Seafood Services Australia’s Industry Mentor Program, the aim of the trip was to learn from the experiences of representatives from the Tasmanian aquaculture industry on EMS. The barramundi farmers were from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. During their trip the Barramundi farmers discussed the current status of their industry and their estimates suggest that the total production in FY06/07 could be in excess of 3,000 tonnes. This is a significant increase in the ‘official data’ released for FY05/06 of 2,075 tonnes worth some $17.2 million (ABARE 2007 Australian Fisheries Statistics 2005-06). This is an indication of the high level of confidence in barramundi farming which is one of the few aquaculture sectors which has been showing expansion in production and value over the past five years. Atlantic Salmon

farming in Tasmania has show significant growth with a 21% increase in tonnage from FY04/05 to FY05/06 and a staggering 39% in value over the same period (19,219 tonnes worth $221 million). The schedule of visits was organised by Dr Matthew Bransden, Technical Service Manager, Skretting Australia and included two farms, two processing plants, a hatchery, a feed manufacturer and an R&D facility. A workshop was also provided with presentations by EMS experienced industry members (Dr Judy Marshall and Col Dyke) as well as representatives from Skretting. Use of a bus and accommodation in the same hotel provided plenty of opportunity for the participants to discuss issues on environmental protection. There was excellent information exchange both within the Barramundi group and with the Tasmanian farmers. An Action Plan has been drafted for EMS introduction in the Australian Barramundi farming industry. One of these is the invitation of Col Dyke, Judy

Marshall and Ted Loveday to present talks on EMS at the APFA-ABFA conference planned for Brisbane in late July. The use of the Tassie mentors was significant and, through the ABFA, the aim is for an industry EMS to be developed as part of the sector’s overall, Strategic Development Plan. Individual companies or regional group can extract relevant information for the development and implementation of their own EMS or Plan. There was agreement for the following Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 3


FARM PROFILE Photos by Dan Richard, Mick Lisle and Wil Con.

basic steps to be undertaken: • Identify environmental risks (use HACCP) – both from on-farm and off-farm sources • Analyse risks (most are low), these will vary with technology and location • Prioritise issues • Develop appropriate control measures/standards and monitoring methods (including third party auditing process) • Setup adaptive management to overcome risks • Identify relevant stakeholders, including authorities especially for regulatory changes • Setup feed back and review to process to improve continuously • Document and report - This can include a once or twice yearly workshop to ensure that those farms that 4 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

have ‘signed up’ for the implementation of EMS are on track to meet timelines. EMS mentors could be present at one or both, to aid individual businesses and the ABFA in EMS uptake. Also address. Feedback from the participants has been unanimous in praise of the trip and the excellent assistance provided by the Tasmanian aquaculture industry and for the funds provided by SSA. According to Wil Con from Daintree Barramundi (Qld), the best part of the field trip was being able to have active discussion with fellow ABFA members and engaging with industry mentors with respect to specific EMS questions. Australian Barramundi’s (NT) Dan Richards said that the whole of (barra) industry needed to work together to

identify and prioritise issues, agree on appropriate standard control measures/ standards and then develop individual plans within this context. John Hutton (Marine Products Australia Ltd, WA) recommended that ESD be identified as an industry issue and industry EMS Risks be identified for inclusion into ABFA Business Plan. Mick and Julie Lisle (Qld) said that the ABFA needed to get ESD signed off. “It needs to be farmer friendly and work within overall farm management, HACCP and health/predator management plans. It must be able to be adjusted from site to site, and be applicable for ponds, cages and RAS. EMS consultant Dr Judy Marshall said that the main drivers for EMS included: • Market access (accreditation shows


FARM PROFILE

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Col Dyke’s Benefits of EMS • • • • •

• • • • • • • •

Attitudinal and behavioural change of employees Better informed staff, improved job satisfaction Greater security for business (proven sustainability) Improve management of our environmental aspects Improving awareness and management of other’s environmental impacts on our business, EMS enables the impact of others on your operation to be assessed and managed Improved community perceptions Lead by good example Provides links between QA, OH&S, HACCP, QMS and license/compliance Beneficial relationships with R&D, local government and Care groups Reveals potential business opportunities Improved business – “we set the price for our oysters, higher than others” Looking to increase Third Party scrutiny through JASANZ Process leading into self regulation – discussion week with ministers.

Murray Darling Fisheries Specialist in breeding and supplying Murray Cod Golden Perch Silver Perch T: 02 6922 9447 M: 0419 600 926 F: 02 6922 9448 E: mdfish@ozemail.com.au 1795 Old Narrandera Road Wagga Wagga NSW 2650

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 5


FARM PROFILE

• • • • •

that you are sustainable). Self regulation Reduction of government red tape for expansion National uniformity of regulations, standards Low environmental risk relates to lower financial risk. Having an EMS allows for application for National funding to facilitate incorporation of EMS processes into

the business structure. • Federal Government position is pro EMS. Federal directives should therefore help facilitate uptake of EMS at State level. Legendary oyster farmer and environmental ‘warrior’ Colin Dyke’s take-home message for the farmers was “Nothing is impossible!” “Industry must learn to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said. “ESD and EMS are

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the pathway not a destination, and many benefits (see insert box) will accrue to industries that embrace the process. The industry wide EMS approach presented in the workshops by Judy and Col, and the experience of the Tasmanian salmon farmers, provides a robust model for managing the environmental issues relating to aquaculture. The widespread adoption of this approach through the ABFA will form the basis of a strong industry standard position for engaging with key stakeholders. This will improve the security of the industry, ensuring ongoing access to the essential natural resources the industry depends on, while providing regulators with a level of surety that may enable the pathway to self-regulation in the future. By Dos O’Sullivan (Australis Aquaculture Ltd, USA), Dan Richards (Australian Barramundi, NT) and Wil Conn (Daintree Saltwater Barramundi, Qld)


FARM PROFILE

Getting Catty The ornamental industry in Australia is currently undergoing many changes, some originating from within the industry and some from changes in market trends. With the increase in availability of many new forms of fish in the aquarium trade due to changes in quarantine laws and accessibility to global markets, many farms are expanding their range of fish to reach consumer demand. A Tasmanian company is now breeding and supplying Royal Whiptail Catfish.

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or Tasmanian Ornamental Fish Farm owner, Greg Willis, the decision to bring in a new breed of fish was reached after re-evaluating the farm’s breeding facilities. Firstly, TOFF’s 6m x 10m Discus (Symphosodon sp.) hatchery room at their northern Tasmanian facilities was being poorly under utilised. “Discus can provide a good return,” said Greg, “But when things go wrong, it’s a lot of time and money that go straight down the drain. Problems with inbreeding can occur without the introduction of new stock but to bring in those fish, you also run the risk of bringing in new diseases, and with Discus, that usually means parasites. This is a road we have gone down before and have paid a heavy price trying to control and then eradicate the problems. So we had to make a decision, run the risk of bringing in new broodstock or diversify into a different fish that had similar water quality requirements but with less disease risk.” The solution presented itself when a wholesaler noticed that large Royal Whiptail Catfish (Rineloricaria lanceolata) had paired up in their wholesale rooms. The Royal Whiptails are a light brown, highly patterned sucker mouth catfish that grow to about 15 to 20 cm long, about two thirds of which is their tail length. This tail ends in a long filamental fin that can be moved in a whipping action when the fish is being territorial.

normal catching and packing procedures. These fish also have not historically preformed well during shipment, and as most of them are still caught from the wild in South America or imported from overseas, which has added to their high market price, only low numbers remain to be sold. As with most of the catfish family that are mainly supplied through importation, a reliable source within Australia that could provide the numbers required would greatly enhance the fish’s profile in the consumer market. Heated breeding room To this end the pairs were shipped to the farm and isolated into a row of former Discus tanks at TOFF - 100L tanks made from 6mm glass. Greg said that keeping the breeding pairs all together in one part of the room enables the equipment used to be kept separate from the other stock in that room and

the farm in general. Under gravel filtration equipment was replaced with home-made block filters, which consist of a 10cm x10cm x 20 cm cube of Dacron foam that has a pipe of PVC working as an uplift. Air is provided by a 0.5HP motor airpump that provides aeration for the entire room via 35mm irrigation pipes that run behind the glass tanks along each rack. The air is heated by an outside domestic furnace while insulation in the building prevents the heat from escaping. The Discus room has always been kept hotter (between 28 and 30°C) than the rest of the farm, due to the warmer conditions needed for successful growth rates in tropical fish. This temperature range also seemed to suit the breeding requirements of the Whiptails, according to the limited sources of information that could be found. These juveniles are from the first batch of fry and at 6 weeks of age are already approximately 4cm in length.

The unusual shape of the fish make it popular with consumers who want ‘something different’, but the length and slimness of the tail are also one of the weak points of the fish. The spine and tail can be very easily damaged during Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 7


FARM PROFILE

According to Greg, the Whiptails, originating from Brazil, prefer water of <40 ppm hardness and a pH of 6.5 to 6.8. This is provided from water storage tanks that can be either from filtered main water supply – but filtered down to 2 microns to ensure removal of larger compounds – or from a reverse osmosis system that removes all chemical compounds leaving the water with a 0 ppm water hardness reading. With the reverse osmosis system the water is passed under pressure over a membrane that separates all compounds which are removed down one outlet pipe, while the pure water can be sent down another to be stored separately. The ‘waste water’ from the reverse osmosis filter is used for baby Angels and Rams, who can make use of the extra compounds, particularly calcium, via the gills. The two sources of water can be accessed by different pumps or can be blended to achieve the required hardness.

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2

Whiptails are known to be a harder fish to keep due to their fussiness of water quality parameters but also because of their feeding habits. They are notoriously ‘lazy feeders’, if food is present they will eat but they are not active food seekers as are most other scavenger fish. This also adds to the difficulty in getting well conditioned fish for breeding.

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1. The dual revervse osmosis filters provide water with nil water hardness to encourage breeding behaviour for the catfish. 2. The racks of 100L glass tanks with dacron block filters will be used to grow on the juvenile catfish. 3. The egg sac of these juveniles, at 2 days of age, is almost depleted and the fry are beginning to develop normal feeding habits.

Upon arrival, they were fed time times per day exclusively on 1mm protein pellets that had extra vitamins and Spirulina added, to see if they would take the normal food that was fed on the farm. When they were weaned onto this food, they were also given once per day a commercial frozen food mixture that contains plant material and a mixture of protein sources. This combination proved to be highly successful, as, within three weeks of the arrival, pairing and mating behaviour was first noticed. When mating the female deposits the almost clear eggs on the male’s preferred nesting site, which can be any clear area of the tank that allows the male to cover and protect the clutch with his body (usually along a glass wall or uplift

8 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


FARM PROFILE

pipe). The eggs are very large, about 45mm in diameter and resemble slightly squashed soccer balls when first laid but they soon ‘inflate’ to a normal egg shape. The male then moves over the nest and fertilises the eggs and continues to lay over them in a protective stance until they darken and begin to hatch (this usually takes a few days).

The male royal whiptail catfish protects and aerates the developing eggs.

A clutch of eggs is produced about every 2 to 3 weeks depending on the health and age of the female. The clutch size for all of the females started at about 60 to 70 eggs but appears to be increasing slightly with every clutch produced. However, it is not anticipated that there will be a big increase in egg production as the body cavity of the female does not appear to be increasing with age or growth. Unlike most others of the sucking catfish type on which this farm has worked, the female’s body does not deflate to a normal size after laying the eggs.

The eggs after 4 days of development have darkened and the body outline of the fry can be seen.

“The laying process is very quick,” remarks Greg, “You can walk out of the room when there has been no sign of breeding activity and walk back in 10 minutes later and have a huge clutch of eggs.” Hatching takes place anywhere between 3 to 5 days after being laid, being temperature dependent. “The pair of Whiptails just inside the door has the coolest tank and will always hatch out first. The pairs in the middle of the room, where the temperature is more constant take up to two days longer to hatch”. Upon hatching, the fry are about 4 to 6mm in length and swim in a spiral until they settle and feed on a prominent egg sac which lasts about 48 hours. The fry are then free swimming and feeding, although they appear, for the first week, to favour areas of high aeration. Interestingly, even though the eggs are laid in a very quick period of time, the fry will hatch out over a period of between 12 up to 36 hours. This occurrence has been noted with all of the pairs and with every clutch of eggs and is quite perplexing to farmers who

are used to almost simultaneous hatching of fry. “There doesn’t seem to be any reason for this pattern, it’s not like the last to hatch are weaker or have smaller egg sacs or take longer to develop once hatched,” says Greg. “So we’re assuming, for now, that this is normal for Whiptails. However, it would be nice to have some reliable reference material to see if any other breeders have noted this. Unfortunately, the bulk of the stock sold is still collected from the wild and those that breed them in large numbers (mostly in Northern America) closely guard their secrets.” Growth and feeding Growth rates after hatching appear to only be limited to how much food the fry can physically take in, and will approach a length of 50mm within a four week period. After this, the growth rate slows as the fish put on body mass as well as length. The fry are

kept to the same feeding regime as the parents and also introduced to different frozen food combinations in an effort to make them ‘non-fussy eaters’. “One of the biggest problem in this industry is that you have no control of the product once it leaves the door, and then, typically the fish goes through two to three other hands before it is placed in the customer’s tank at home. The fish has to be used to all kinds of food before it leaves here to ensure that it will recognise different food material throughout the rest of their life. This is especially important for the Whiptail due to it’s lazy feeding habits. If they die because they are difficult to feed, consumers will not continue to buy them and the market becomes very limited to a few specialist Catfish hobbyists.” They also gain their normal adult body colour patterns at this stage and, as the tail lengthens, it begins to grow the long Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 9


FARM PROFILE

MANAGEMENT METRICS Key Management Decisions for Tasmanian Ornamental Fish Farms include: • Diversifying into different fish lines that make use of existing equipment • Specialising in fish that do not recover from importation well • Moving into stock lines that reflect market change. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Royal Whiptail Catfish include: • Culture System utilised: bare bottomed 100L glass tanks • Growth rate (from stocking to market): <6 months (<1g to 10g) • Survival rate: 98% from first stocking to sale size • Av. stocking density: in growout situation, 75 -100 per 100L • Annual harvest: for whiptails approx. 2,000 – 3,000 with current breeding stock

filament that grows off the end to forms the ‘whip’ from which the Catfish gets its name. They are commonly sold from the length of 8cm at a price of about $25 from the wholesaler which can increase by over 300% when they get into the aquarium shops. Greg believes that the Catfish will easily reach this size within 6 to 8 months, but is hoping to create a market for a smaller sized whiptail. “One of the reasons they are sold at this relatively large size (for the ornamental trade) is that they have a better survival rate from being captured and imported at a larger size. Our shorter transit times should increase their packing and transport survival, as well as the stock originating from tank reared stock. So the farm is hoping that we can get a product out at about 6 to 7 cm, even smaller if possible, that the wholesalers and buying public will recognise as viable fish.” Work is also to be done on the stocking rates of the growing fish. Due to the ease with which their tail can be damaged, it may not be feasible to grow them in the larger 350L or 1,000L tanks

with other breeds of fish as is done with other forms of sucker Catfish, such as Bristlenoses (Ancistrus dolichopterus). “We may have to change over some of our dedicated tanks to these Catfish so they have their own grow-out area, which then affects the room we have for our main lines, such as Rams and Angelfish. All of these considerations will have to be taken into account when we determine the end price we want for the fish.” Having said that, it is expected that a reliable home source of these Catfish will be most welcomed by the wholesale market and consumers alike. The Royal Whiptail Catfish may also provide a gateway into greater Catfish production by the farm. By Louise Willis For more information contact Greg Willis, Tasmanian Ornamental Fish Farms 214 Opossum Rd, Launceston, Tas 7250 Telephone: 03 6339 1111 Fax: 03 6344-7200 Email: gregwillis@tastel.com.au

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FARM PROFILE

‘Shared’ oyster grader for Clyde River Last year the McAsh Oyster Company purchased and installed a Tasmanian-made SED automotive oyster grader capable of grading over 10,000 market grade oysters in an hour. The grader is significantly reducing handling time and now the system is being made available to other oyster farmers on the Clyde River (NSW) for grading their small as well as market grade stock.

A

fter some time as a commercial fisherman and working in local government for more than 25 years, Kevin McAsh was looking for some new challenges. With son Ewan having just finished a Bachelor in Marine Biology from Wollongong University and interested in aquaculture, Kevin decided to get into oyster farming in 2004.

“We purchased a Sydney Rock Oyster (Saccostrea commercialis) farm on the Clyde River (3 hours south of Sydney) which had 13ha of developed leases,” Kevin explained. “There is a mixture of intertidal and subtidal leases; we have seven floating rafts, everything else is on intertidal rack and rails.” When the Kevin and Ewan purchased the farm, there was a wide range of different types of culture equipment, including wooden trays (60cm wide by 180cm long by 20cm high), traditional 2m long wooden sticks, wire trays made from concrete reinforcing and Stanway cylinders. They have phased out most of these systems and are replacing them with Seapa Baskets hung on an adjustable long line system. “We didn’t come in with any background in traditional oyster farming so we can pick and choose what is the best for us. In our quest to make our farm less labour intensive and more efficient it was important to reduce our different cultivation methods so we will eventually just use one type of growing vessel. We felt that Seapa baskets combined with

Loading Seapa Baskets onto adjustable longline- footage from South Australia.

the long line system gives us versatility in on-lease management and the streamlined, efficient product handling we are after.”

around. However, we will take oysters later, if they are available. The aim is to have around 1-2 million oysters in the water at any time.”

Streamlining Operations with Mechanisation Kevin said that they were always looking to streamline their operations. They thought it would be less effort to buy seed than catch their own. ‘We are currently stocking around 700-800,000 seed each year. We like to get them in the water around April or May so they can really kick on when spring comes

“We buy seed from the north coast, usually from the Hastings or Wooli Rivers. Usually we like to get the seed between 12-35mm in size, they would cost as much as 12c each. Recently, we have been getting QX resistant seed from Tony Troup at Camden Haven. This stock is supplied by the Select Oyster Company hatchery. They grow quickly so we can increase turn-over and are a more hardy oyster.” Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 11


FARM PROFILE

“We start smaller oysters in 6mm Plastic Tooltech AquaTrays, larger oysters are stocked straight into 20mm Seapa baskets. Juvenile oysters are initially grown in the upper less saline reaches of the estuary, to avoid winter mortality and overcatch. Once they have reached 35-45mm (12 months) in size they are brought down and finished (6 months) at the mouth of the River.”

The McASh Oyster shed has been carefully planned and organised to increase efficiency.

The Seapa Baskets on the adjustable longline system which has been used to replace the wide range of culture systems originally on the farm.

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Kevin and Ewan have spent some time in South Australia and Tasmania examining the bulk scale culture techniques in use in the Pacific oyster (Crassotrea gigas) industries. “Those growers are at least ten years ahead of us. They lead in things like selective breeding, automatic handling and mechanical grading. There is a real need for a sharp catch-up period by us NSW oyster growers. With rising fuel and other costs it is vital that we look at efficiencies.” The first thing a visitor notices in the McAsh shed is the sealed concrete floor and the orderly layout of their mechanised plant and equipment including: • 12m long SED ShellQuip (MACH V) oyster grader and bulk bins • 2.5 ton Toyota Forklift • Karcher K 520 pressure cleaner • Overhead gantry with a 500kg Hitachi crane • Crown 1.5kg electric lifter • Pneumatic oyster knives • Auto tipping oyster boxes. “We have put in a lot of equipment to reduce manual lifting. We have planned everything out carefully. We now move all our oysters through in (bulk) batches, regularly grading them to ensure uniform growth. The key to it is the SED ShellQuip oyster grader which we purchased in April, 2006.” Kevin said that the $100,000 price tag (plus $20,000 for the sealed floor) was more than they could afford and the huge through-put it could handle was many times more than they could ever hope to produce. “So we looked at setting up a system that could be used by us as well as other growers. We were able to source


FARM PROFILE

$60,000 from the DOTARS (Department of Transport and Regional Development) Regional Partnerships Program. We have set up a system where we charge per thousand oysters when using the grader. We’ve set up a new wharf (10x5m) so that farmers can tie up their oyster barges with their oyster trays and we can use the forklift to unload or load them.” Many of the small growers on the Clyde have established the Batemans Bay Oyster Marketing Co-op and they would normally hand grade their market size oysters. “Now those growers can use our ShellQuip for grading their markets as well as their growing oysters.” Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy Kevin is certainly a firm believer of utilising new technologies. “It just has to be done. If you look at the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (released by NSW Fisheries in October, 2006), it states that to achieve sustainability, the oyster industry must embrace new technologies. So we did just that! Our ShellQuip Grader and

change to Seapa Baskets is one part of our strategy. Using selectively bred single seed oysters is another part.” Kevin believes that the Sydney rock oyster industry is beginning to lift production. “In the early 1990s overall annual production was around 8,000 tonnes and it has been falling ever since. Now single seed production and innovative growing techniques means more oysters are being produced. Our grader can handle every oyster on the river (if needed). The best we’ve done was 25 bags (around 17,000 oysters) in 1.5 hours; these were sorted into four grades. It can easily handle 10-12,000 oysters per hour and we could run it all day and all night if we wanted to.” The oysters are loaded out of their culture trays or baskets into bulk self tipping hoppers which drop the oysters onto a bulk feeder belt and into a washer before falling into a collection bin. Another moving belt picks up the individual oysters and lines them up in a row – this is called the ‘singulator’ and then there is a spreader which separates the oysters by about 2cm. The lined up and spread out oysters are carried under

an imaging camera and along another chute where air jets push them into their selected grades, oysters are collected in Seapa baskets if returning to the lease or into hesian bags for sale. “An imaging camera measures the length and width of each individual oyster. Oysters are sold on size (length) and we have developed programs in the computer to recognise the different grades. We run some through to check the grades are right before cranking it up.” “Stick oysters although more irregularly shaped when compared to single seed oyster, can be put through the grader. Any doubles (co-joined oysters) come out the end as rejects. Some hand sorting after the washer stage can pick out dead shell. So by the time you have graded them a couple of times through the machine you get rid of the problem oysters.” “We have two farmers who use it regularly, other growers are still getting used to it. The ShellQuip does a terrific job at grading and has the potential to save time and money but the challenge for many farmers is to incorporate it into their own farm practice.”

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 13


FARM PROFILE

MANAGEMENT METRICS Key Management Decisions for McAsh Oyster Pty Ltd include: • Purchase of larger (>12mm) single seed rather than catching own, using some hatchery reared product • Streamlining the many different growing methods into two and eventually one system (Seapa baskets). • Introduction of large scale mechanised grader with auto tippers, washers and graders • Other mechanisation in plant and equipment including overhead cranes, hydraulic boat cranes, forklifts • Opening facility for use (at a small fee) by other growers. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): • Culture System utilised: Seapa baskets on adjustable long line system; Tooltech AquaTrays on rafts. • Growth rate (from stocking to market): < 2 years (5g to 50g) • Survival rate: 90% from first stocking to sale size • Annual harvest: 60 000 oysters • Productivity: 30 000 dozen per Effective Fulltime Unit (240 days, 48wk x 40hr) • Production cost: $2.64 /dozen oysters.

Rafts for growout The rafts are made from a wooden frame (4” x 2”) that is 12 m long by 4m wide. Thirty six 240L drums are strapped onto the frame with 12 mm rope. The modules of ten AquaTrays (1 x 1m) have 90mm long spacers inserted through the corner straps to allow good water flow through the trays. “We use yellow strapping tape to hold the modules together. They are easy to lift up with a jib crane on the barge, every three weeks we like to pull them out and sit them on top of the rafts for two to three days in summer to kill off any overcatch. In winter this time is increased to three to four days every six weeks. Other than over-catch we can also get fouling from barnacles, cunjevoi, mussels and algae.” 14 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Kevin & Ewan McAsh dropping a bundle of 6mm Aquatrays into the raft.

Kevin said that there were no major poacher or predator problems and QX not present as yet (QX has been identified in the river, but not in the virulent form). “There were some occasional winter mortality and we can lose oysters through heat kills during a low tide with air temperatures over 35°C. “On rafts the oysters grow quickly as they can continue to feed 24/7 so they are graded every 4 to 8 weeks. When they are about 45 mm in size, we transfer them to Seapa Baskets in the intertidal area for three to six months. This finishing time is to fatten the oysters and allows the oysters to harden up, strengthening the adductor muscle which is turn means longer shelf life once they are harvested and sold. “We are lucky on the Clyde as this river has relatively pristine catchment area and we do not experience the same pollution problems other estuaries battle with. Our waters have been classified by the SQAP (Shellfish Quality Assurance Program, run by NSW Food Authority) for Direct Harvest; we have a dual management system so when salinity falls below 25 ppt we revert back to the depuration of sale oysters as a precaution.” “Most of our sales are to Sydney, the North Coast and up to Brisbane. We are

probably doing around 700 000 oyster per year. The Sydney Rock Oyster is very popular and there is plenty of room for our business to expand.” “By tooling up and adopting more efficient cultivation and handling systems we plan to take the focus off just growing oysters and concentrate on supplying to our customers needs” Kevin said Ana Rubio; a PhD student at Australian National University Canberra had been studying nutrient levels in the Clyde River. “With the drop off in numbers of oysters in the river, there was better growth in the oysters that were stocked. All of the growers in the river will need to decide on what levels of oyster numbers will be grown in the river. Hopefully by reducing the time it takes to turnover oysters we can produce more without over-stocking the river. That will be covered in an Environmental Management System (EMS) we are currently drafting....but that is a whole other story.” By Dos O’Sullivan For more information contact Kevin McAsh, McAsh Oyster Pty Ltd, 6 Evan St, Mouya, NSW, 2537. Tel: 02 4472-7565, Mobile: 0405 232-262, E: kevin.mcash@bigpond.com


FARM PROFILE

World first begins with a fishing trip Most people believe that a fishing excursion should be a chance to get away from work, but for Bruce and Alan Sambell, it was the beginning of a project that has led to one of the first large scale spawning of the Archer Fish in the ornamental industry.

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he Archer Fish (Toxotes sp.) ranges from India east to the Philippines, south to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia and into Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. There are seven species within this genus. This fascinating animal was first imported into Europe by P. Nitsche in 1899. Their unique hunting abilities led to them becoming highly prized among aquarists, with orders being filled by wild caught populations. Australian supplies of the fish have consisted of imports from Indonesia mainly, where the fish is a popular food source, and also from stocks captured from the Northern Territory. The Australian species has been classified as Toxotes oligolepsis, and is commonly known as the Kimberly Archer Fish. These fish are brackish in origin, and need a high concentration of salt in the water to survive, a factor which worked against them becoming easily acclimatised to fresh water aquaria. However, a fishing holiday to Cape York 18 months ago could see major changes to the seasonal availability and cost of the fish. The interest first began when Bruce’s son, Alan, asked his father to obtain some brood stock. “We already held a permit for Archer Fish, we have a Culture Stock Permit for almost all of Queensland’s freshwater fish.

Bruce Sambell showing an archerfish caught from the Northern Territory.

This photo highlights the preferred habitat of the archer fish, featuring banks overgrown with vegetation.

“We were fishing on Laura River which runs into Princess Charlotte Bay, on the shoulder of Cape York,” says Bruce, “It Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 15


FARM PROFILE

lot of damage to themselves and the larger they are, the more damage they seem to do.”

The large, deeply cleft mouth shown with this wild caught archerfish is used to form a water spout that knocks it’s chosen prey into the water.

It is not known if these are Kimberly Archer Fish as they have not been officially classified, however, Bruce believes they could be a new fresh water species due the catching site being so far from the river estuary. The fish were kept in a pond on the farm at Childers, with other species, such as the Coal Grunter (Hephaestus carbo), being grown on for brood stock. When the time came in January to collect the Grunter broodstock and check for egg samples, some of the Archer Fish who didn’t manage to jump over the net were caught and examined for breeding condition.

Juvenile archer fish display more distinctive black, white and gold colouring than the adults, as is shown by this 6 week old fish.

The archerfish juveniles lose the defined black bands that act as camouflage in mangrove areas, as they grow into adults. The archerfish at 3 months of age have reached between 2.5 – 3 cm in length.

wasn’t a familiar area and we were keeping an eye out for salt water crocodiles even though we suspected we were a little far inland for them.” Twelve potential breeding individuals were caught using small hooks baited with bread on a fishing line, which may 16 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

seem an unusual way of obtaining fish to be used in a breeding program. Bruce explains, “It may seem strange but this is the easiest way to get the Archer Fish to shore without risking their health as they have a habit of thrashing about in a net and causing a

‘Running’ male “I give the credit to Alan, as he was the one who noticed the running male, and it was then that, mainly out of curiosity, that we started looking for females,” says Bruce. The sperm of the running male was inactive in salt water, being another confirmation to Bruce that this variety is strictly fresh water. Two fish that were thought to be female were among the catch, but the attempt to get the egg samples failed. The catheter was too large for the oviduct. and they also could not tell the direction or length of the oviduct, risking fatal injuries for the fish. It was decided to put the male into a 2,000L spawning tub in the hatchery with the most likely candidate for a female. “When you work with native fish for so long you get an idea for the shape of conditioned adults and one fish in particular had a discernible swelling where you would expect the ovaries to be, so she was our pick,” explains Bruce. The hatchery tank was not specifically prepared for a spawning, with normal pond water obtained from overland flow providing a pH of 8.5 and a total hardness reading of 150-200ppm. Aeration was provided to the tank using a diaphragm pump and, being summer, the ambient air temperature gave a water temperature of 27°C. The male fish weighed in at 145 grams


FARM PROFILE

while the female weighed 260 grams and the fish are thought to be about 2.5 years old. Both fish were about 20cm in length. What happened the morning after next was shocking, even for this seasoned professional. Bruce continues the story, “When I came into the hatchery there was a work experience student taking out the tank’s stand pipe to clean it. When I asked what they were doing, they replied that the fish had spawned but the eggs were infertile and that Alan wanted the tank cleaned. I asked them to leave it because, at the very least, I wanted to see the eggs. I almost died when I saw the larvae wriggling. Needless to say, we put the tank back together in a hurry but I still believe that about 20% of the spawn was lost on the floor.” Even with that sizeable loss the amount of surviving eggs is impressive. “I estimate at least 10,000 eggs hatched successfully,” says Bruce, “but it’s hard to tell. At the time when we noticed the larvae the eggs were pelagic (although they may have been adhesive when first laid) and it was difficult to estimate numbers with the huge amount of floating eggs”. On the very few occasions when Toxotes jaculator have spawned it was estimated that the size of the clutch numbered about 3,000 and that there were fry hatching at the 12 hour mark.

Bruce believes that, like other Australian native fish, egg production may be linked to the age, size and condition of the fish. “It makes sense,” he says, “They have similar body forms, eat similar foods and are reactive to the same environmental parameters.” Archer Fish have been found in the Mitchell River, which flows west into the Gulf of Carpentaria form Cape York, 1,000 km from the river mouth at 30cm in length, so it could be reasonable to expect larger spawns from these larger fish. The fry were fed on freshly hatched brine shrimp and at 2 days of age were put into a 0.1 hectare (1/4 acre) plankton pond. At this stage, the fry were put under the microscope and there were found to be no deformities, with the fish looking exactly like tiny miniatures of the adults. It may seem to some that there is a potential risk to put such valuable fish in an outside pond at such an early stage but it is in line with the philosophy held at Ausyfish. Bruce explains, “We have to compete with imports and things have to be done as cheaply as possible and this is the easiest way to ensure that the entire spawn has easy access to all the food available. Besides, we don’t know anything about growing these fish. I believe that we have to let nature takes it’s course to see how the fish will react to different environmental parameters to know how to manipulate things, if need be, when we are growing them for the

The trees along the Laura River provide cover in which the archer fish can hide while tracking their prey.

Hunting habits of the Archer Fish In the wild, the Archer Fish will feed on small fish and floating fruit, but their main source of food consists of insects. The fish has two predatory habits. Both are aided by the taxonomy of the fish. The elongated, laterally compressed body shape of the fish makes it possible to swim close to the surface without detection while the forward eye position, close to the mouth, allows the fish to clearly discern its’ target. The long, well developed pectoral and caudal fins help propel them out of the water in a leaping action. This is the first method of predation amplifying the ability of the fish to catch insects by it’s mouth. The second hunting method, and the one for which it is most known, is the ability to collect a sizeable amount of water in it’s mouth and expel it in a stream that will knock the prey off overhanging vegetation into the water. A fish as small as 3 cm can produce water jets of 10 to 20cm but a full grown adult can produce streams of 2 to 3 metres, often up to 7 times in quick succession (although they are accurate to only 1 to2 metres). These hunting scenarios make this a popular fish among diehard aquarists who love the challenge of hand feeding or replicating the Archer’s natural environment and feeding habit. Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 17


FARM PROFILE

MANAGEMENT METRICS

Bruce and Alan attempting to gain an egg sample from a suspected female archer fish.

market. I want to see how well they do with minimal involvement in terms of labour, feeding and equipment costs.” Quick Growth The fry have grown quickly in the early weeks in the pond, reaching 2.5 - 3.0 cm in 3 months, despite having a small crop of Pearl Danios (Danio albolineatus) as pond mates. This may have been assisted by the ease with which they can be fed. “They will eat absolutely anything and everything. They’ve fed on everything we have given them and are displaying their normal predatory habits by feeding on any insect that comes near the pond water.” The growth rate has slowed down over the winter season, which Bruce believes to be a normal response to the colder weather and expects the rate to increase again when warmer conditions prevail, as their preferred temperature range is between 25 and 31°C. It is believed that with these fish, the greatest problem will be when harvesting time comes, due to the fishes’ ability to jump over nets and be damaged if caught. Traditional netting methods used on the farm might be problematic as, from their prior experience in catching the original 18 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Key Management Decisions for Ausyfish Pty Ltd includes: • Identification of the market opportunity for locally grown ‘freshwater variety’ Archer Fish. • Use of plankton pond to allow the juveniles easy access to their natural diets. • The vagaries of the climate will also have a selection effect on hardier individuals.

brood stock, most of the fish will simply jump over the net. Although the Archer Fish will be left in the pond until August or September, Bruce is already thinking around this problem. “I think we will use fyke nets,” he says. “These have wings which direct the fish into a tunnel. When the front of the net is lifted the fish have no choice but to be trapped in the tunnel and cannot jump out. From there, they can be transferred to transfer vessels quite quickly and with minimal fuss.” Another potential problem to fish growth and production is how predatory birds will affect the numbers. As the fish swim close to the surface to feed, they will become prime targets, and netting may have to be used as a protective measure. As this fish is, traditionally, a high value product, Bruce has no problem with taking extra measures to protect a the crop, although it is most likely that this first spawning will be kept and grown up as brood stock, cancelling the need to obtain more from the wild. He hopes to produce fish for market that are between 7 to 8cm in length that are currently worth between $11 to $16 at wholesale prices. However, the price will also be influenced by the volume of Archer Fish in the market. The greater

the number produced, the cheaper the market will expect to pay. If the fish can be raised easily with minimum input, a cheaper price will be viable for the farm. “We will have to see how many fish survive the winter to get a good idea how many we’ll be pushing onto the market, and at the moment it’s hard to make an estimate. Years ago, the fish were popular due to their feeding habits and curiosity value and people wanted the challenge of keeping them. However, the less hardier, brackish variety that have been the mainstay of the market lately may make people put the Archer Fish in the too hard basket, even though the fresh water variety will be much easier to keep”, laments Bruce, “But a good product that is fairly priced will always sell once the word gets out that it’s available”. And being a market innovator in both the ornamental and food fish industry, he has the experience to know! By Louise Willis For more information contact Bruce Sambell or Alan Sambell, Ausyfish Pty Ltd, PO Box 324, Childers, QLD 4660. Tel: 07 4126-2226, Fax: 07 4126-2221 Email: bruce@ausyfish.com Web: www.ausyfish.com.au


FARM PROFILE

Thurla Farm’s Murray cod M

urray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) have long been an iconic fish in Australia; however their production has not always been commercially successful. One grower who appears to be on the right track is Col Beasley of Thurla Farms. Situated at Millewa, 20 minutes south east of Mildura in Victoria’s Mallee country, Thurla Farms is a family operation that is run on an industrial scale. It grows a wide range of produce, including 300 acres of wine grapes, 5,000 acres of dry crop, 700 acres of horticulture, and 5,000 sheep feed lot. With water becoming more precious as global climate change impacts on available reserves – not to mention costly to buy – Col is an advocate of multiple use of water. “There are 51 water storages in the Mildura area of over 100ML. We store 270ML here at Thurla; the main dam holds 130ML. We estimate we can produce 500t of fish a year from it and use the nutrient enriched water in our horticulture and other farming operations”. The project is part of the Fisheries Victoria integrated agri-aquaculture project. The principle is to utilize an already existing water delivery systems to spread the cost of water and create wealth and employment in rural districts. It will also spread farmers’ market risk, an ever present nemesis of rural communities. Thurla Farms has been involved in the project since its inception four years ago and the data so far gathered is encouraging enough for Col to be talking enthusiastically about the next step into commercial production. The water Thurla is predominantly sand hill country, ideal for viticulture and horticulture. The farm’s annual allocation of secure water is 1,400ML. This arrives at the farm along 6km of open channel and 8km of pipeline. The water storage used for aquaculture is 300m x 350m and 8m deep. The water is exchanged 11 times through the irrigation season. Annual loss from evaporation is 50M but this will be reduced from running

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more cageway modules that will break wind action on the water surface and provide a certain amount of shade. The dams on the farm are clay lined. This causes water turbidity from the colloidal clay. While this minimizes light penetration it also limits temperature extremes and algae production. Plankton blooms and the subsequent crashes and the usual diurnal and nocturnal daily dissolved oxygen and pH swings are not a problem. The constant water exchange makes a major contribution to maintaining DO (Dissolved Oxygen) at 80% of saturation and prevents nutrient build up and stratification. If, at any time, water allocations are reduced, supplementary aeration is provided by paddlewheel aeration that pushes water through the netting of the cageways. There is also a blower fitted (air lift) to each raceway so that the water can be circulated and aerated from within the growing area. The farm aerates from two to eight hours a night utilizing the cheaper off-peak rates to break any stratification that might occur plus an hour during the day. The farm The floating farm has been designed in modules. Each module consists of a central holding tank 11m x 2m x 1.2m deep. Attached at right angles to each long side of this central handling cageway are eight (four a side) growing pens, each 2m x 12m x 2m deep. It sits over the deep part of the dam, 50m off the bank and is connected by a gangway. The whole farm is floated on pontoons. The pilot model is only four raceways (half module), two each side. The central compartment is fitted with grading bars so fish can be brought in, graded and drafted off into separate growing cageways, harvested or treated for parasites. Nursery cages for fish too small to be contained by the mesh in the growout cageways are attached on separate pontoons. This arrangement keeps labour to a minimum. Col says that aside from the extra hands needed for harvesting, it only takes one labour

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1. Travis demonstrating the air blowers that help aerate the water and push water through the cage system. 2. The air blower mounted on the pontoon that helps maintain water quality. 3. Gangway panels being manufactured on the farm to bring the pilot module up to full capacity. 4. Travis with the framework for the central control cage from which the growout modules are mounted.

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 19


FARM PROFILE

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unit to handle 200t of fish. This is within commercial cost structure parameters for finfish farming and has greatly reduced the cost of production incurred on other warmwater fish farms. “From the day the fish go into the module they are only handled once,” he says. The framework of the pilot farm is a hybrid of metal, wood and plastic construction. Once the commercial operation gets under way the modules will be totally moulded plastic. The Sunraysia District is one of the country’s most productive horticulture and viticulture regions and is well serviced with support industries. However, because of the government subsidy for rainwater tanks, most of what would normally be spare plastic moulding capacity has been taken up. Col said he expects the first commercial model to be in the water for next season’s cod spawning in August.

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Water temperature and feeding Water temperature ranges are from 12°C to 28°C. It reaches 20°C in mid November and falls below that by mid May. The cod feed well down to 16°C giving an optimum growing period of seven months.

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The irrigation water comes into the dam from the top and is taken off a metre above the bottom. Col said this pulls fresh oxygenated water down to the bottom and keeps the substrate aerobic. The irrigation season runs from September to May.

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Col uses Skretting Classic barramundi feed – 43% crude protein 17.5MJDE. This is giving an FCR of 1.2:1 which Col feels they can get down to 1:1. In fact he sees it as a basic economic requirement if the cost of production is to be reduced to a competitive level. He’s are discussing with feed manufacturers the possibility of supplying a specific Murray cod ration in line with this target. 1. Col is shown here proudly displaying a sample of the cod grown in the growout module he designed himself. 2. The coupling designed by the Beasleys to hold the floating farm together and at the same time flex with any movement in the water surface. 3. Filamentous algae grows on the top section of the netting and is easily removed with a yard broom 4. These Murray cod are nearly ready for the market.

20 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Col’s son Travis runs the aquaculture operation. Travis says they are able to feed 2% of body weight per day once the temperatures are over 23°C. During the winter this ration is cut down to 1% every second day. Once the water climbs back to 16°C the daily ration returns to to 1% a day and by the time it reaches

20°C they are feeding 1.5% of biomass. Feeding is delivered via a Sweeney vibrating feeder. Powered by a solar battery, the feeder can be programmed over a 24 hour period. Travis has found the cod feed best in the morning and midday. They get a third feed for the day in the evening and he is able to program the feeders to accommodate the cods’ preferences. One thing being explored at Thurla is the increased feeding activity in the raceways when fresh water is coming into the dam and the behaviour of the cod under different atmospheric conditions. Fishermen, both anglers and professionals, have long recognized that the cod bite under certain weather conditions and won’t look at a bait under other conditions. The Sweeney’s 24 hour feed regulator allows feed uptake to be maximized and, consequently, feed costs to be minimized. A mixture of floating and slow sinking feed is used. The fish feed at the surface and in the water column. However the jury at Thurla is still out as to which type of feed gives them the best results. Obviously the floating feed is easier to monitor. Whilst feed trays are not run under the pens Col reckons out that with their FCRs close to the mark, not too much is being missed. However, he does note that there are pyberry (bony bream - Nematalosa erebi) and shrimp (Macrobrachium australiense) in the incoming water and that these may be contributing to the dietary intake. While he feels this may detract from the FCRs they are recording he also feels that any waste feed is being taken up by the ‘fodder crop’. The dam is also stocked with Murray cod, golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) and silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus), a ‘free range’ population not only mops up any waste feed but keeps the dam free of yabbies (Cherax destructor) that, as their scientific name implies, could create leaks by burrowing through the clay lining of the storage. Even though light penetration is minimal, filamentous algae grows on the netting of the cageways. It is restricted however to the top half metre and is easily brushed


FARM PROFILE 1

1. Here Travis is adjusting the feeding rate on the Sweeney vibrating feeder.

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2. Shown here are two of the pens of the pilot module used at Thurla to prove up the methodology to be employed on a commercial scale. Note the bird netting. 3. Col and Marissa filling the hopper on the automatic feeder. 4. Removing the algae is just part of the daily routine around the farm and Travis said it takes no time at all to keep the nets clear.

off with a yard broom once a fortnight without having to remove any gear. General hardness of the water is between 240ppm and 320ppm and the pH is neutral. Carbonate hardness is 30mg/l. The proof of the water quality and the stress-free nature of operating the system, both on the operators and the fish, is reflected in the mortalities: 3% over a seven month production cycle.

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Production cycle Col says the growout is not unlike the sheep feedlot he operates on the property. The fingerlings are stocked at 100g and take seven months to reach the market size of a kilo. This is three doublings in 210 days and represents an average daily gain of just under 1.25%. Each cageway holds 5,000 cod, which means an eight raceway module will produce 40 tonnes of cod over the seven month optimum growing period. The project has also grown trout and salmon in the module during the winter. The growth rate is three times better than that being achieved on the Goulbourn Valley trout farms at the same time of year. Presently the farm procures Murray cod seedstock from Queensland. But, with an eye to the 4-5 local growers who installed recirculation systems to grow fish but found the cost of production too high, he says growing fry to fingerlings would bring otherwise unutilised infrastructure back into production and help boost the local economy.

The economics With the current fuel price it costs between $1,200/ML and $1,400/ML to sink a dam. The 130ML storage on Thurla would cost $190,000 to build today. To purchase enough secure water just to fill it - at $2,600/ML - would cost $364,000 plus $182,000 to replace

evaporation. To do just two half water exchanges a year would bring the cost of securing water to over $900,000. The annual cost of that amount of water would come to $70,000. As Col says: “We’re not using water here; we’re just borrowing it.” On the other side of the equation, the

By using contract growers to grow the <1g fry up to 100 advanced stockers, Travis feels that grading in these early stages will eliminate much of the size differential that shows up in the growout cageways. It would certainly make marketing and harvesting simpler as well as lowering the mortaily rate by growing the vulnerable juveniles in a controlled environment. Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 21


FARM PROFILE

130ML dam can produce 500t of Murray cod that is currently fetching $12/kg to $17/kg on limited offerings at the domestic wholesale level. That translates to between $6m and $8.5m gross return. The water use upon which Col has based production figures is 11 exchanges during the course of the irrigation season. That bumps the water usage up to 1,540ML and the procurement cost to $4m. The annual purchase price would increase to $308,000. At the moment one of the farm’s biggest costs is buying advanced stockers. It is also a management risk that is out of their hands. Col feels that eventually, when they scale up production, they will be able to reduce this cost by centralising the breeding and supply chain of 100g fingerlings. The cost of production through the smaller production systems – principally recirculation units - has been calculated at around $9.50/kg. Using the low cost production method at Thurla they have already reduced that to below $7/kg. With quantities of scale Col expects to be able to make further reductions to below $6/kg. This would make Thurla’s ‘Murray Gold’ an extremely competitive brand on any market for premium finfish. Marissa Bailey of the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) is overseeing the project. She speaks encouragingly of the system at Thurla saying there was no need for 24 hour mechanical aeration as

found in some systems. Water temperature spans in other situations in the region where the water was clear were also wider than in the colloidal clay waters, ranging from 8°C to 30°C. The markets Very much aware that growing the fish is one thing, being able to sell them is another, Col has probed overseas markets. The response has been encouraging to say the least. “We’ve sent fish to five overseas markets and the demand from every country is quite high. We just haven’t been able to produce the numbers of fish to supply that demand. Australia’s biggest seafood exporter has told us unequivocally that he’ll take every Murray cod we can produce over the next three years. “Over the project we’ve sent six shipments now to Japan. We’re receiving $17/kg FOB for HOGG fish (heads on, gilled & gutted). The Cambodians have said they’ll take 2,000t a year. The Asian market is huge,” he adds. The growing and marketing program is aimed at the premium quality market. With 95% of production earmarked for overseas’ customers, Col says they’d be keeping the pressure off the local market, enabling the price to remain buoyant. At 86% the recovery percentages after gilling and gutting are comparable with other species.

The future Judging from the above, the future looks promising for the development of Murray cod farming in the region and for Thurla Farms and those associated with the project. Markets seem secure and the crucial cost of production is under control. Sunraysia is one of the most isolated horticulture regions in Australia and Col is conscious of the benefits that will flow on to the local economy from the development of an aquaculture industry. This isolation has its benefits. The region has of necessity over the decades developed a comprehensive infrastructure, service and transportation sectors. “We’ve registered the name ‘Murray Gold’ and patented our system. We want the fish here. We want to generate income out of the area. We can handle the whole chain with the infrastructure already in the district,” he says. “Aquaculture’s in its infancy up here. We’ve still got a fair bit to do, but we’ve got a lot of confidence in the whole system. This is as much about building an industry as growing fish.” By John Mosig Col Beasley or Travis Beasley can be contacted by phone on (03) 5024 1203 or by email on col@thurla.com.au or travis@thurla.com.au

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FARM PROFILE

Russell Sydenham pictured with several of the products produced at the farm. Including; smoked trout pate, whole smoked trout, trout caviar.

Value adding trout at Arc-En-Ciel The award winning recipe at the Arc-en-Ciel Trout Farm in central NSW has been expanded by the new owners with increased range of value added products as well as the re-introduction of their fish-out facilities.

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he Arc-En-Ciel (it’s French for rainbow) trout farm was built in 1984 by Ron and Ivy Bishop. The farm grows Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). It is located at Hanging Rock, which is 20 minutes from Nundle in New South Wales some 80km from Tamworth, 2.5 hours’ drive from Hunter Valley, and 4 hours from Newcastle. The farm is 1,200m above sea level on top of the Great Dividing Range with the Peel Valley to the East

and the Hunter Valley to the South. The farm is now owned and run by the Sydenham family - Russell, wife Meg, and son Roger. It produces around 12 tonnes of fish a year. By value approximately 65% of the product is smoked and 35% is sold as fresh or fillets. Russell previously sold office consumables. He became interested in aquaculture when NSW Fisheries

released an aquaculture strategy document. Russell attended several meetings, which drove the interest into a passion and he began researching aquaculture in Australia. The research aided Russell to form a checklist of ‘must haves’ for the aquaculture enterprise he would like to own. This made assessing properties easier and attempted to remove emotion from the largely business decision. Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 23


FARM PROFILE

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1. Roger, Russell and Meg, Sydenham with their most popular product sold at the farm, smoked trout fillets, which retail $55/kg. 2. Hatchery in the serene silence of a fresh winter coating of snow. The perfect environment for cold water species such as trout. 3. Hatchery holding tanks with fresh clean water directly from the spring water, which surfaces on the Sydenham’s property. The fish are held here when nearing stocking into one of the 4 grow out ponds. 3

Russell first touched base with the Bishops around 3 to 4 years prior to purchasing the property, however, at that stage the Sydenhams were not in a position to up root their lives, with children at school and the respective stages of their careers. Despite looking at various different aquaculture enterprises the Sydenhams kept returning to Arc En Ciel, with its beautiful surrounds as it was a well established trout farm with a twentyplus year track record. In January 2006 the Sydenham’s finally ‘took the plunge’ and purchased the farm and began their new challenge. Like many other farmers, they find in today’s climate it is difficult to solely rely on the farm income, so Meg provides an off farm income as a qualified psychologist. Their ultimate goal is for the farm to provide sufficient income to sustain their lifestyle choice. 24 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Water supply The farm’s water source is a spring which becomes the foundation of McDivitts Creek, which flows into the Barnard River. Russell is able to draw from the spring via a diversion licence (20ML, which was reduced to 10ML during the drought). The spring forms the boundary of the Sydenhams’ property with their neighbour but there is minimal contamination from their neighbour’s property prior to the water being used within the fish farm. “Being at the start of the water supply ensures there are no unexpected surprises with the water quality being deteriorated by other upstream users,” explained Russell. “This ensures our waterway remains clean well into the future.” The farm is 202ha, with the total area underwater approximately 2ha, consisting of four lined ponds (6m x 12m x 1.83m deep). There are also three hatching troughs (40cm wide by 3.35m long) and four juvenile holding tanks (3.2m dia.). Water is exchanged about every 3 hours in the ponds (12L/second) and is exchanged four times an hour within the hatchery. The wastewater from the farm is able to be discharged directly into the river, without the use of a settlement pond. The water exiting the

system has had an excellent testing history with the EPA; as a result around 12 months ago the EPA approached Russell with the intention of reducing the testing frequency of the discharge water to twice a year. “With the reduction of testing they have further reduced our costs, we were very pleasantly surprised when they approached us,” Russell told Austasia Aquaculture. Upon taking possession of the farm the State was in the midst of one of the longest droughts and the preceding 12 months were the driest and hottest on record for Hanging Rock. As a result Russell needed to find alternatives to ensure an adequate water supply to culture trout. “Our water flow was significantly reduced last summer leaving us with few options, so we altered the farm to include a recirculation pump which enables 50% of the water to be recirculated at times of low water flow. We only use the pumps when we are required to, as we were last summer. Around 6 weeks ago we began to receive good rain and snow falls which have enabled us to return to the flow through system once more.” Stocking Fertilised eggs are sourced from a Tasmanian hatchery and are hatched


FARM PROFILE

and grown in the troughs. The ponds are normally stocked with fingerlings at around 50g. Under normal conditions the farm produces fish from egg to plate size in around 10 months, under the drought conditions this was closer to 12 to 14 months. Last summer Russell purchased around 50,000 eggs. “Currently we have the capacity to hatch up to 80,000 eggs in the hatchery. There is room to further expand the hatchery operation in the future with space to add more trays and troughs to the current system.” Trout fingerlings (greater than 20g) grown on the farm are also sold for stocking in farm dams. Again, during the drought this form of income was reduced due to most farmers having very little water in their dams. The fish are hand fed three to four times a day, with a Ridley 90% floating feed. “We are currently gaining further advice from Ridley as they have some new products that are designed to aid in enticing shy fish to feed,” explained Russell. “There can be problems if you have shy and dominant fish within the system. When this occurs the net result is a larger disparity in growth rate within the ponds. The new Ridley products are designed to have a larger portion of feed that will sink, making more feed available to the shy fish.”

airlines in the ponds and the hatchery.” By separating the two airlines Russell was able to increase his control over the two systems. The small tank based hatchery and the large pond based grow out systems required different air pressures to effectively maintain the two systems. “Trying to achieve this with the one airline and pumping system was simply inadequate, since separating the two systems they have both operated far more effectively.” Predators The farm enjoys very few problems from aerial predators due to it’s heavily treed location in a temperate rainforest valley. However cormorants have been a problem at the fish-out dam, but the majority of predation risk is only when the fish are fingerlings. “The cormorants were also at their peak during the drought. Due to the lack of alternative food for the birds in the surrounding area they came to the farm. We simply used to scare them away from the ponds. Since the arrival of rains in recent months and the resurgence of surrounding rivers the cormorants have

Two diaphragm pumps push air through the ponds to enable oxygen to be dissolved into the water. “We installed a second bank of diaphragm pumps shortly after acquiring the property as there were problems with maintaining adequate pressure in the lines. We have also separated the

The other predators encountered on the farm include feral cats, foxes and quolls. “We had one cunning fox that used to watch us grading and feeding the fish. He used to catch quite a few. We did have to remove him from the farm. The quolls, however, are more annoying than destructive. They tend to set off the alarms at night; they are hopeless fish hunters, so very few fish are affected by them”. Feral cats can also be a problem. “Luckily we don’t have many, but their claws damage the fish even if the cat has not been successful in catching any.” Marketing Weekly operations generally involve orders being taken on a Monday with smoking on Tuesday and Wednesday for delivery to Tamworth. Harvesting of the fish involves the use of a large framed pull-through net in the targeted harvest pond. Fish are then netted out

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moved onto other areas within the district. As a result they are not considered a significant problem and we have not found the need to install bird netting at this stage.”

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Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 25


FARM PROFILE

MANAGEMENT METRICS Key Management Decisions for Arc-En-Ciel Trout include: • Expansion in the number of products being sold, with focus on changing the product mix to maximise income. • Installation of additional aeration systems and the recirculation of water when inlet supplies are low. • Improvements to the back-up and disaster recovery systems. • Re-introduction of the fish-out facility and collaboration with accommodation venues to publicise facilities on offer. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) include: • Culture System utilised: ponds and tanks, flow-through. • Growth rate (from stocking to market): <11 months (250g to 600g) • Survival rate: 90% from first stocking to sale size • Av. stocking density: 20kg/m3 or per culture unit (range is 20kg to 30kg/m3) • Annual harvest: 12 tonnes • Production rate: 6,000kg per ha (growout system area) per year • Water use: 200L per kg produced per year • Power use: <1kW per kg produced per year • FCR: approximately 1:1 (number of kg of food to produce 1kg stock).

and placed into a batching bin beside the pond, before transfer into the processing plant, where a person is waiting to hit the fish on the head with a ‘killing tool’ to ensure the fish are quickly and humanely slaughtered before being gilled and gutted. “Our processing facility is about 100m2, and has concrete flooring and insulated cool room panels. We have a gutting trough, vacuum packer, stainless benches, freezer, cool room, smoker, and washing sink. We employ three casual staff to help with the processing 26 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

and tourism facilities.” The fish are placed onto stainless steel racks and smoked for 18 to 25 minutes achieving a minimum core temperature of 70°C.” The wood used for smoking is a local hardwood growing naturally on the property. Once out of the smoker the fish are allowed to cool, then each fish is individually packed in a sealed poly bag ready for market. Smoked pate, whole fresh fish and fillets, whole smoked trout and fillets, and more recently trout caviar are also produced. “We are also looking to develop further caviar products including smoked trout caviar and ginger trout caviar. We want to increase the return of the business by increasing the number of value added products we offer, rather than attempting to significantly increase production of the farm.” Tourism Expansion The ability of the farm to sell directly to the public enables good retail prices to be attained. Fresh whole fish are sold for around $20/ kg, smoked $30/kg, fresh fillets $40/kg and smoked pate $55/kg. Upon taking over the farm the Sydenhams were very vigilant about maintaining the methods and techniques of the previous owners, as what they were doing was working. “This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, however, I believe when taking over a new business (especially a successful one) changes need to be introduced slowly and only once the previous methods have been trialled,” explained Russell. “When we first took possession of the farm we spoke to the previous owners and asked what additions they would make to the business if they were in a position to do so. Their response was tourism. We set off researching the ideas and we found there were three common factors between all successful rural attractions. They all provided people with something to see, something to do and something to buy – all at the one location.”

Russell started the farm tours and renewed the lapsed fish-out licence. He has also opened a coffee/gift shop on site. “In the future we are looking to expand the coffee shop to include light meals for visitors also.” Russell is also involved in the Community Development Program and the Small Towns and Villages Program within Nundle, to help attract more people into the town. “I work closely with the local accommodation within Nundle, which has proven to be a beneficial partnership for both parties. The more attractions in the area that the accommodation venues can suggest to people, the longer they stay.” The type of promotion for the different farm products varies. The fish-out profile has been largely lifted through word of mouth recommendations and Nundle promotional websites on which the farm appears. The Tourism Tamworth office also plays a key role in sending visitors to the farm, especially during the Country Music Festival held each January. “The pride we take in the quality of our fish, the reliable clean spring water and the friendly service will ensure we continue and build on the previous success of the farm,” Russell told Austasia Aquaculture. “We also accommodate tour buses. We generally provide either a meal and fishing or meal and tour packages, which are proving very popular.” The farm currently attracts around 2000 people per year. “We are considering adding yabbies to our licence to add another dimension to the farm.” Other farm income comes from harvesting tree ferns, which are grown on the property, both Dicksonia Antarctica (soft tree fern) and Cyathia spp. (hard tree ferns). By Jennifer Savage with Dos O’Sullivan For more information contact Russell Sydenham, Arc-En-Ciel Trout Farm: ‘Malonga’, Hanging Rock, NSW 2340. Tel: 02 6769-3665, email: arctrout@optusnet.com.au


F E AT U R E 1

Silver and white amur ‘clean up’ in waterway restoration H

o w would you like to be farming a species that could be grown both without fishmeal and at the same time be a decided benefit to the environment? Gray Jamieson of New Zealand Waterways Restoration Ltd (NZWR) is doing just that. Based at Warkworth, about an hour’s drive north of Auckland, his company has the rights to stock both white amur (Ctenopharyngodon idella) and silver amur (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) in New Zealand for weed and algae control. Fishmeal replacement in aquaculture diets has long been a goal of fish farmers and nutritionists. Researchers have experimented with all sorts of protein source replacement to reduce the industry’s dependence on the wild harvest of this high value product. By and large, particularly when feeding high order predators, this has not proved to be cost effective. However, the two amur species respond admirable to herbivorous diets. They are native to the Amur River in Siberia and grown extensively in China as a table fish. They also play an important role in biological weed control.

2

3

Jamieson says the advantages of biological weed control in an aquatic situation are obvious. “Herbicide use only destroys the living plant leaving the nutrients free in the system, polluting the waterway and eventually finishing up in the sea. From any point of view, this is not acceptable. By using weed eating species like white and silver amur, the consumed nutrients are converted to fish flesh and the intrusive aquatic plants are removed to make way for the recovery of native vegetation and beneficial phytoplankton”. The two amur species work in conjunction with each other. White amur literally eat grass while the silver amur are filter feeders, taking out the harmful algae species.

4

White amur White amur are veracious feeders. Young fish – 25cm to 40cm – will consume over 70% of their body weight a day in wet aquatic machrophytes. Even mature fish can remove up to 70% of their body weight in wet vegetable matter under optimum temperature conditions. Their selection range also depends on temperature. Under optimum circumstances – 18°C to 28°C - they will consume any vegetation within reach, including raupo (Typhaceae – cumbungi [Aust]) rhizomes and filamentous algae (Spirogyra). At temperatures of 14°C their selection range is confined to preferred species. At <10°C they cease feeding altogether. Polyculture They have a shorter digestive tract than most herbivorous species and when the amur are feeding voraciously, when the water temperatures are about 20°C, around half the vegetable matter consumed will pass through

1. Gray Jamieson collecting juvenile amur as part of the regular monitoring of growth rates and general health. 2. A net full of white amur ready for stocking in a water restoration program. 3. A juvenile silver amur 4. White amur fingerlings gather around a water intake in one of the nursery ponds NZWR’s Perry Road establishment.

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 27


F E AT U R E 1

2

1. A juvenile white amur.

3

5

2. One of the broodstock ponds at NZWR. Note the clarity of the water and the neatness of the grass around the edge of the pond. 4

3. Ponds heavily infested with filamentous and blue green algae, such as this one, are cleaned up biologically by stocking with silver amur. 4. An aerial view of the Perry Road Fish Farm, Warkworth. 5. Hatchery Technician Adrian Paarman holding a female silver amur broodstock at Mahurangi Technical Institute.

the gut undigested. While this seems wasteful at first glance, it provides a rich food source for detrital feeders such as daphnia and freshwater crayfish and shrimps. Conveniently, the temperature range at which this occurs is also coincides with the optimum temperature for freshwater crustacean production. In a pond situation this would generate two crops without having to feed either of them. In a wild situation, daphnia and freshwater crayfish are a major food source of omnivorous and carnivorous finfish. As a further credential of their suitability for biological aquatic weed control, they do not breed in New Zealand waters. NZWR contracts the Mahurangi Technical Institute (MTI) (AA 21-2) to breed the species at their Warkworth facility. One of its outstanding successes has been the restoration of Lake Omapere in New Zealand’s Northland. This 1,200ha lake was threatened with biological collapse in 2001. Within three years of their introduction, white amur had eradicated the carpet of Egeria densa that threatened to kill most of its aquatic life. 28 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Silver amur Silver amur are filter feeders removing plankton, including toxic blue green algal blooms. They will also feed on surface scum and have proved invaluable in cleaning up several eutrophic waters in New Zealand and other parts of the world. Their natural range is Eastern China, the upper Amur and its tributaries. Because of its ability to control harmful plankton blooms and value as a table fish, it has been introduced to many countries around the world. Unlike the white amur, it has an elongated alimentary canal and is an efficient feeder, consuming 10% to 15% of its body weight daily. Optimum conditions are similar to those for white amur. Like the white amur, it can only be bred in New Zealand by hormone inducement making it an ideal biological control species. Growth rates Under restoration conditions – high available food levels – growth rates for white amur are impressive. Jamieson says that white amur were stocked in Lake

Western Springs in Auckland at 25cm (250gms). They were grown out to that size on the farm to ensure good survival. After 12 months the stocked fish reached an average weight of 2.5kg. After their second full year they were 4.5kg. These are highly commercial outcomes. Silver amur don’t have the same veracious appetite as white amur but they still reach impressive sizes having been measured at 12kg in New Zealand and 20kg overseas. Jamieson didn’t have any restoration site data but he has noticed that they outgrow white amur in the fry ponds. Breeding techniques Once the ponds reach 19°C and the eggs are in an advanced stage, broodstock are brought into the MTI hatchery for the final conditioning. The actual breeders are selected on egg condition and spermatozoa mobility. Dr. Tagried Kurwie says she liked to see the eggs at the vesicle migration (eccentric nucleus) stage. White amur are easier to breed than silver amur. In fact, until NZWR developed their process of managing waterway restoration two years ago


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Jeyco have now been involved in the supply of equipment to Aquaculture operators that has seen us provide solutions in Mexico, Spain, Italy, Malaysia, Scotland, Japan, New Zealand and domestically to Fin Fish Farmers working with Tuna, Kingfish, Salmon, Sea Bass, Barramundi etc

What we have focused on is reducing the thinking on size and weight being the only way to looking at more efficient equipment offers that allow the operators to reduce boat and install times. An example is we recently supplied a Salmon farmer in the south of Tasmania, Huon Aquaculture, two grid systems of 30 cages and using 160 meter circumference cages. In the past they had used up to 1500kg anchors and some slump weights as well. Our system used Stingray Anchors of 375kg and 250kg, this cut their install time down by half.

We have been working to provide engineered Grid Systems to ensure that there is a responsibility on us to our client and to the insurers. In house we have the capability to provide detailed analysis that will show the loads on a single cage as well as a total system in the worst case scenario in storms and in high energy sites.

Given that we do full engineering and design around the known site conditions we are then matching equipment to a load requirement. We have worked with two manufacturers of ropes to produce higher strength Poly Olefin ropes that are less in size, again providing efficiency with out diluting the need for holding powers.

We work with a number of partners to allow us to bring to the table a turnkey solution if required, some of these partners include:-

If we are supplying a total grid we supply these pre made with a complete Vendor Data Book and drawings on assembly with an install methodology, this way there is no splicing or fabricating needed at site only putting the system together as the grid is installed.

We are also working with a large engineering firm to provide rock substrate securing methods where the bottom does not allow use of our Stingray.

Australian Marine and Offshore Group – specialize in deep sea and high energy mooring analysis, they are well respected in the Offshore Oil and Gas Sector.

Universal Nets – a supplier of netting and system solutions for over 20 years to the Aquaculture Markets. Aquaculture Engineering Group – specialise in Feed Barge Systems.

36 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

We also have access to a Marine Scientist that has a lot of experience in determining site suitability for the various species. Our strength is in working with local partners and providing turn key solutions by involving people that are experts in particular parts of the fish farm process.


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larvae take zooplankton so once a phytoplankton bloom has started they are seeded with rotifers. Jameison likes to see the ponds at 20°C or better when the larvae are introduced. By the end of the sixth week in the ponds they are 25mm and ready to move on to an algae diet. Fecundity is high: around 100,000 eggs per kilo of body weight. A 10kg female will spawn a million eggs. Broodstock mature after three to five years. The ones used at MTI are usually nine to 14kg. Stocking densities NZWR use a simple formula for calculating stocking densities. In the case of any infestation of exotic pest weeds 250g white amur are liberated at 100/ha, or 25kg/ha. Where hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum) is the target species liberations are boosted to 220 tails per hectare. These calculations are made on a vegetated hectare basis, for example a 100ha lake that has 25ha of weed (other than Hornwort) requiring management, 2500 fish are released. The headlands between the ponds at Warkworth are neatly trimmed. It came as no surprize to discover that the lawn clippings go into the ponds as food for juveniles and broodstock. Jamieson has no doubts that the fishes’ role in waterway restoration will become more important as the impact of global warming affects climatic and biological patterns. “The white amur prefer the exotic weeds over our native aquatic plants. The silver amur take in algae through their mouths and across their gill rakers removing particles between 5µm and 108µm, which is the range in size of the blue green algae. Where you have the toxic strain of cyanobacteria - Aphanizomenon flos-aqua - affecting the health of the waterways and the beneficial aquatic life forms that are dependant on them, silver carp is the only biological control. In the past copper sulphate has been used, which is absolutely lethal; now alum is the herbicide of choice. From a habitat point of view, this is far more damaging than copper sulphate. By instantly dropping the pH of the water to

extreme lows, every living organism is under threat from shock. The advantage of using the amurs as biological control is that when the fish eat the weed, they metabolise up to 55% of what they consume, the nutrients become locked up in the fish as flesh and the fish can be removed. If you use herbicide sprays all you do is recycle those nutrients into the system, and it goes down the waterways into the salt water”. Weed infestation is a serious problem in New Zealand. Because of the natural clarity of the water and the fertility of the substrate, growth is vigorous. Recreational users, such as water skiers, have been drowned when they’ve become entangled in weed, especially eel grass (Vallisneria gigantea – ribbon weed [Aust]). Lakes have become unmanageable. NZWR responds to requests to clean up waterways ranging from developers to local and central government authorities. The company doesn’t actually sell fingerlings, it provides a management service. It assesses the number of amur that need to be stocked in a given waterway in order to make an impact on the weed problem, stocks the waterway with the fish and provide a quarterly up-date on the progress of restoration. Depending on the progress of the restoration – in other words the availability of feed – fish will be added or removed. The value of the fish as an aquaculture species is masked, at this stage, by the fact that NZWR can get four times as much return out of the fish as a weed control measure than they can by just selling the fish for the table. Jamieson has tasted the fish and he says they didn’t have a strong flavour – something similar to orange roughy – with the same firm white flesh. One observation he’s quick to share is the total absence of muddy taste that can be associated with freshwater pond-reared fish. “The Chinese are past masters at flavouring and half the time you wouldn’t know what fish you’re eating,” he says. Those fish that are removed are sold to the restaurant trade where they have found a ready acceptance. Called wan yur and been yur on the menu, NZWR Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 37


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have given exclusivity to one Chinese restaurant for five years in exchange for an agreement to develop the market, which Jamieson estimates at this stage to be around 80 tonne a year of 1kg fish (for the Asian market alone). Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of ill-informed resistance to any significant development of the wholesale farming of amur. Because of the importance of the trout and salmon recreation fishery, the government has taken the position that there will be no commercial freshwater trout farming in New Zealand in case the development of a commercial market for salmonids reared in freshwater encourages poaching of the abundant game fish. The NZWR amur farm was originally set up to produce marron (Cherax tenuimanus) in 1984. The Fish

and Game lobby saw this as a stalking horse to introduce trout farming so the license was revoked, the marron destroyed and compensation paid. The irony is that the activities of NZWR actually clear water of noxious weeds making it more habitable to game fish. Even acquiring a permit to stock amur for restoration purposes can take quite some time as the various stakeholders are consulted. This can be an exhausting process and costly process, not always based on science or with the good of the weed choked waterway foremost in mind. Even moves to combine food production with waterway restoration have run into regulatory problems. The main market is the Asian community and they prefer their fish live. To move live fish around New Zealand requires a permit and the

FIBREGLASS AQUACULTURE TANKS * Fish transporters * Larval Rearing * Spawning * Parabolic * Brine Shrimp * Settling and Storage For further information and a brochure, contact:

SUPERIOR FIBREGLASS GPO Box 7841, Cairns QLD 4870 Phone: (07) 4035 1884 Mobile: 0409 794 326 Fax: (07) 4035 5755 38 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

requirements for obtaining one are not based on the commercial parameters of expediency and cost at this stage. NZWR is currently investigating taking their expertise to America where the species exist and can be utilised without the bureaucratic delays and red tape experienced in New Zealand. Preliminary negotiations are also being held with Australian authorities to ascertain the value and assess the risk of introducing sterile white and silver amur across the Tasman. NZWR’s job doesn’t end with removing unwanted vegetation. Jamieson has further developed a species specific way of removing unwanted fish from the waterway. He has developed a floating pellet that can be targeted to a particular species. In the US they have other macrophyte eating species so they add alfalfa to the pellet which makes it palatable only to the white amur. The fish are trained to feed in an area and once feeding regularly they are fed within a floating ring. Once comfortable, a funnel trap is added to the ring and the amur are harvested. Alternatively, antimycin can be added to the pellets and the fish destroyed at the feeding site. This program works equally as well on carp (Cyprinus carpio) – Koi carp as they are called in New Zealand, European carp in Australia. It all sounds too good to be true. A species of fish that feeds itself on weed and algae thus minimizing the cost of one of the major cost inputs in aquaculture: the feed. Not only that, it eliminates reliance on fish meal and other costly forms of protein. With waterways under threat around the globe and water becoming a precious commodity, it can be used as a biological control in preference to damaging and residual herbicides. White and silver amur are already grown around the world. They may yet play an important role in water quality management, restoration and seafood supply in New Zealand. By John Mosig Gray Jamieson can be contacted by email on weedkill@nzwm.co.nz


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An attempt to manipulate the flavour of silver perch tolerance of Silver Perch. They found that they could survive for a while in 15 ppt salt water. The CCAF knew that most Silver Perch growers were purging their fish in clean water with 2.5 to 5 ppt salt added and wondered if by purging at a higher salinity and by adding some kind of flavinoid , whether it might improve the flavour. When the CCAF folded up I moved to the mid north coast – a beautiful area – and decided that the project should still go ahead on a limited scale. After all, if successful it might be some sort of catalyst to try to rekindle interest in small farmers growing Silver Perch on a commercial scale ... and hopefully stimulate employment, especially for the many young people who have studied aquaculture at TAFE..

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n 1999 the Central Coast Aquaculture Foundation ( a not for profit community organisation) was set up to try to promote aquaculture in the region. After numerous monthly meetings it was decided that the only way forward was to try to facilitate a Peak Body for aquaculture in NSW. In June of 2005 the CCAF managed to persuade a number of leading industry representatives to meet at NSW Fisheries, Port Stephens , with the aim of forming a PB. Unfortunately the Peak Body did not get off the ground at that time. Leading up to the failed attempt the CCAF had set up a pilot scale ‘fish out’ project in the large dam that was part of the Mt Penang Gardens on the Central

Coast. It was also decided to attempt to run a pilot scale project on the site to some interest within the industry and give the Foundation some credibility in its attempt to facilitate the setup of the PB. Unfortunately we could not obtain any funding for the project and when the PB formation attempt failed, the CCAF also folded. The project that we discussed came about from an article concerning NSW Fisheries and salt water ponds out in western NSW. Fisheries have been attempting to grow marine species in the ponds with a view to possible commercialization. However one of their projects looked at the salinity

Silver Perch were chosen because marine aquaculture was considered by the CCAF to be in the too hard basket. Initially we believed that we should be using salt water to produce “product” without impacting on fresh water supplies, since the earth is 5/7ths seawater. However environmental perceptions, limited sites, tourism and numerous other factors all come into consideration. So the idea of cage culture alongside oyster leases is just too difficult to realize. Offshore sea cages cost a huge amount to set up and the unpredicatability of the weather makes them high risk ventures. We considered that If you could grow Silver Perch in re-circulating fresh water tanks as well as edible plants in the filtration system it would be a very cost effective, sustainable way to produce a product. The emphasis would no longer be on the fish alone, but on the total product including fish and plants. Thus the bio filter actually removes some of the nitrate in the form of edible plants and, as such, should be more on the large side than previously thought. Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 39


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gives them ‘fish food for thought’ !!

The fish, when grown to plate size, could be purged in a small volume of clean salt water with some agent added to help modify the final flavour. This way large volumes of salt water would not be handled with all the inherent problems of running a marine system. It might be possible to produce a product that had a “marine like” flavour. If this could be done , then just maybe the pressure could be taken off local wild marine fish stocks and a whole new cottage industry might be created. I did approach a local University in order to see if I could arrange for the project to be run with strict protocols as part of either an MSc or PhD marine course, but there was no interest. Consequently I have done it myself and there are many ‘ifs and buts’ and there have been no real ‘controls’. However I feel the results that I did get are good enough to warrant further studies by suitably qualified aquaculturists. I feel that it

The Silver Perch fingerlings were obtained from Alan Hambly at Kempsey, who with his wife Debbie has devoted a lot of time and money to try to get the industry going. To them and others like them I take my hat off. The couple of hundred Silver Perch that I bought were to be grown in a re-circulation system for my own consumption and also to be given to a few friends for their opinions on any apparent modified ‘taste”. Alan and Debbie sell good quality Silver Perch fingerlings 100 mm+ for 75c. This price is even negotiable for large quantities. The fish were obtained in the first week in April 2006 and quarantined for 7 days – in a 1000L system containing 5 ppt salt water – prior to being put into the main system. This consisted of a 5000L re-circ tank and a 1000L Reln trough as the biofilter. Water was recirculated using a 100 watt magnetic drive pump and a small low power air pump was used. The biofilter consisted of tubs half filled with compressed shade cloth and with scoria rock on top. The plants (including garlic, dill, coriander, parsley, ginger, and lettuce) were grown in pots pushed into the scoria rock. On the 5th May 2007, 36 plate sized fish were moved to the 1000L system (the water temperature was running at 17°C am / 18°C pm , compared with

15-16°C in 2006 . The water temperature has been consistently higher this autumn compared to last). Good quality sea water was used to bring the clean water up to 3ppt and the tank was well aerated. More oceanic water was added daily such that by the 15th of May it was up to 12 ppt and on the 16th reached 15 ppt . During the whole time that the fish were in the 1000L set up there were at least 6 kaffir limes split in half . These had to be replaced about every 5 days. Kaffir limes were used because they have a very strong flavour . They are different to ordinary limes in having a very rough surface and having lime ‘capsules’ inside rather than pith and juice in traditional limes. Normally the leaves are used for cooking and the fruit is not generally used. The water was obviously salty but now had a ‘sweetness’ to it rather than a lime flavour as such. On the 17th of May I decided it was time to sample one of the fish. It was pan fried in a little bit of butter with no other condiments or lemon added. It tasted different to Silver Perch I had eaten some years before, more delicate, with absolutely no hint off flavours. I gave some to selected neighbours to be cooked the same way with nothing else added. They all agreed that it tasted nicer than expected and wanted to try more ‘samples’! As mentioned this project, unfortunately, was not performed in the strict scientific manner that the CCAF wanted to do. I did , however, take a couple of fish down to Alan and Debbie Hambly to compare with fish purged in their own system. They reported “ Yes , they taste different…. What’s that you do ... put limes in the final purge !!” As a result of my simple experimentation, although flavours can be enhanced in numerous ways by chefs , I found my home grown Silver Perch more than acceptable on its own. By Tim Shaw Tim Shaw can be contacted by email at tim.shaw@optusnet.com.au

40 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


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Broken Bay oyster farmers bounce back from QX disaster A

s part of my work, I have often driven the 1000 kilometres of the Pacific Highway along the east coast of Australia between Sydney and Brisbane to visit oyster farmers on the numerous beautiful river and coastal lake estuaries along this very ancient coastline. I have never ceased to be envious of the idyllic lifestyle - albeit labour filled - that is the lot of the oyster farmers in these areas. The farmers that I have envied most of all are those farming on the very picturesque Hawkesbury River approximately 100 km north of Sydney. Prior to reaching the sea this river flows through hundreds of kilometres of tugged valleys filled with eucalyptus forest and flanked by tall ancient wind sculptured sandstone cliffs. Along these steep and rocky shorelines are nestled numerous small holiday and fishing villages and riverside cottages, many of which are accessible only by water. This stretch of the river is also home to an abundance of uniquely Australian wildlife such as kangaroos, rock wallabies, koala bears and a variety of other marsupials, reptiles, soaring eagles and a proliferation of other colourful and often noisy bird life. Throughout the tidal reaches of this stretch of the river there are approximately four hundred hectares of sign posted commercial oyster leases on which oysters were grown intertidally on sticks and fattened on trays supported on post and rail racking. In this picturesque setting, the leases, working oyster sheds, the waterborne comings and goings of local residents, oyster barges, fishermen and local tourism operators, combine in a strange but harmonious mixture of urban, maritime and rural life that surprisingly creates very little visual discord. Oyster farming and many of the farming families have been part of the social fabric of the Hawkesbury River since the beginnings of the NSW oyster industry over 130 years ago. The oyster

farms on the Hawkesbury are famous for producing the Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerate, formerly known as S.commercialis). This oyster is native to south eastern Australia and is arguably the world’s sweetest tasting oyster. It is best eaten freshly shucked on the half shell and is absolutely a shellfish connoisseur delight, featuring prominently on the menus of Sydney’s and many other leading Australian restaurants. The oyster industry on the Hawkesbury River had been based almost entirely on the traditional stick and tray farming method. This involved wild oysters being caught on tarred 1800x25x25mm hardwood sticks placed annually on intertidal post and rail racks on ‘catching leases’ near towards the mouth of the estuary. These wild caught oyster sticks are later moved and spread out on racks in upstream growing areas, before being knocked off the sticks and fattened on trays prior to sale. It usually takes between three to four years of careful cultivation for the oyster to reach premium marketable size of around 60 grams. Just three short years ago in 2004 oyster farmers on the Hawkesbury River suddenly began to realise that something was wrong with the oysters on their prized upstream fattening lease areas. Oyster samples were quickly forwarded

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1. Hawkesbury heroes: Robbie Moxham (left), who helped get the farmers organised, with colleague John Stubbs. 2. An oyster barge fitted out with endloader and specially designed grappling attachment for raising old timber and infrastructure as part of the river’s massive clean-up operation

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3. New triploid Pacifics, which are grown out in 12 to 18 months – much quicker than the Sydney rock oysters – have already won awards 4. A research boat, crewed by a team of three aquaculture scientists, used for ongoing water testing in the idyllic Hawkesbury River system 5. Some of the 400ha of new and cleaned up infrastructure – rails with oyster trays covered by shade cloth, necessary because of sun and heat

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 41


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and dispose of dead and dying oyster stock and unserviceable growing sicks and other cultivation materials from their leases. This provided farmers with a cash flow lifeline while they attempted to implement other innovative measures to rescue their industry. These measures included the granting of approval by the NSW Government for the farmers to cultivate hatchery produced triploid Pacific oysters which are not affected by QX Disease. The approval of Government was required as the Pacific oyster is not native to NSW and is classified around the 1950â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and due to its high reproductive success and fast growth rate in NSW waters has in some instances overtaken intertidal foreshores as well as smothered Sydney rock oyster crops. Environmental concern was such that approval was only granted after a rigorous environmental impact assessment had been completed and the approval was limited to the cultivation of triploid (sterile) Pacific oyster only.

to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), which quickly confirmed the presence of the protozoan oyster parasite (Marteilia sydneyi), the causative organism for QX Disease is a serious and highly virulent disease that affects only the Sydney rock oyster, and despite many years of research, the full life cycle of the parasite and what triggers outbreaks of the disease are still unknown. As a result of the detection of the disease, NSW DPI quarantined the Hawkesbury River and all movements of oysters from the river to other estuaries were banned. Within the next six to nine months devastating levels of mortality swept through both wild and cultivated oysters in the prime upstream fattening areas and within twelve months the disease 42 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

was detected throughout the estuary. It was obvious that the traditional stick industry, based on QX susceptible wild caught oysters, was finished, In most cases farm incomes were quickly and totally wiped out, businesses began to collapse and loyal workers who had worked oysters all their lives were being laid off. For the farmers this was a heartbreaking and devastating time. To their great credit the New South Wales State Government and in particular the Minister for Primary Industries Ian MacDonald were already working closely with the Hawkesbury River farmers to set up a comprehensive assistance package. This package involved the allocation of approximately $3 million in government funding, the major portion of which was to enable farmers to be paid to remove

Fortunately at this time the NSW DPI Research Station at Port Stephens, just north of the Hawkesbury, was also preparing to commercialise a strain of QX Disease resistant fast growing Sydney rock oyster, These oyster had bee bred from parent stocks selected over several years from survivors of QX Disease outbreaks in the Georges River, south of Sydney. A trial shipment of 200,000 QX resistant spat were quickly allocated to the Hawkesbury farmers and placed on the heavily infected upstream fattening leases along side control wild caught oysters sourced from other QX free estuaries. Buoyed by the assistance that was being provided by the NSW Government the remaining Hawkesbury River farmers (by this time about half the original farmers) banded together under the leadership of Robbie Moxham, a third generation and charismatic oyster farmer, who at significant personal financial cost had decided to retain a number of his workers and battle on. With an optimistic vision for the future these farmers formed a co-operative under the banner of Broken Bay Oysters to plan for the future and provide a range


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of assistance to individual farmers to enable them to implement technological change and market their product. However, like almost any worthwhile idea or action, nothing comes easily and without its problems. The first of which was to secure a reliable supply of triploid Pacific oyster spat. One of Australia’s largest and leading oyster hatcheries, Shellfish Culture of Tasmania was given the task at short notice of producing and supplying the triploid Pacific oyster spat. This company is the only company in Australia licensed to use patented male tetraploid triploid technology. After a few initial setbacks, it was the dedication of the company’s General Manager, Richard Pugh that was a key factor in ensuring that the spat were readily available. The NSW Government kick started spat purchases by allocating $200,000 to the Hawkesbury River farmers to the purchase of spat. The second problem was that NSW Government biosecurity restrictions required that the spat be brought into NSW from Tasmania under a strict protocol at a size of around 3mm. As the Hawkesbury River farmers were traditional stick farmers they had little or no experience in handling single seed oysters, let alone commercial quantities of very small hatchery spat. The problem was overcome by a small group of innovative farmers who developed a system that would enable the small spat to be grown to a size that could be on grown on their existing fattening trays and lease infrastructure. The system involved enclosing the small spat inside zippered 600 and 1000 micron ‘Nytrel’ mesh bags manufactured by Allied Filter Fabrics in Sydney. These mesh bags were then placed within floating sealed baskets and placed on oyster leases to take advantage of the abundant natural planktonic food. It was also soon discovered that not only did the oysters grow rapidly with very little mortality, the rolling action of the basket in the waves also provide early shape to the young oysters. The farmers first batch of triploid Pacific oysters, which incidentally reached

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A Q U A C U LT U R E market size in around 12 months, won a silver medal at the Royal Agricultural Society’s Fine Food Awards and then a first place at a New South Wales Oyster Industry Field Day in 2006. The QX resistant Sydney rock oysters are also showing considerable promise in that while over 90% of the control oysters succumbed to QX only 18% of the QX resistant oysters were lost by the time the oysters had reached marketable size. This is particularly exciting given that normal annual farming mortality rates appear to be around 10% and that the QX resistant stocks reached marketable size within two years, at least a year earlier than wild caught stock. The QX resistant strain is now rapidly being taken up by oyster farmers throughout NSW. Whilst there is still a lot of ‘catching-up’ to do financially for the extremely dedicated Broken Bay Oyster farmers, it certainly is “an ill wind that blows no good”. Through sheer hard work and a real belief in a future, the Hawkesbury River farmers are now re-establishing the estuary as a lead oyster producer. They are now adopting the latest technology, working co-operatively on

TA N K S

marketing initiatives and have developed with the assistance of NSW DPI greatly improved safe work practices that will be financially profitable as well. Their experience also serve as a model that will provide hope for other farmers that may have to deal with QX Disease outbreaks in the future. As shown there have been a host of benefits and changes that have come out of the ‘Hawkesbury River Experience’. One very important one is the obvious benefit provided by new single seed oyster cultivation technology, which they quickly recognized they had to embrace rather than persevere with their traditional failing wild caught stick cultivation methods. Both the Sydney rock oyster and triploid Pacific oyster are now being farmed in the Hawkesbury River, which to a small group of ‘never-say-die’ farmers has undoubtedly become more beautiful than ever before. By Reg Breakwell Reg Breakwell can be contacted by phone on 07 3271 1755 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 43


NEWS

NAC victory – aquaculture stays off National Pollution Inventory The National Aquaculture Council has had a major victory for the industry’s ever improving environmental focus.

T

he National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is an online resource that gives free public access to information on the types and amounts of pollutants being emitted in Australia. It is operated jointly by Federal and State governments, primarily by the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) in Canberra. NPI reports come from ‘industry’ and ‘non-industry’ pollutant sources. NPI Objectives include: • Maintenance and improvement of air and water • Minimization of impacts associated with hazardous waste and • An expansion in the reuse and recycling of material • Provide information to enhance decision making for environmental management • Provide publicly accessible information on a geographic basis, about emission to the environment of a hazardous nature or involving a significant impact • Promote and assist with waste minimization and cleaner production. The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) wanted to lift the existing exemption for aquaculture facilities to report to the NPI. This would have resulted in significant costs and other problems for the aquaculture industry. There was also concern from sectors that some of the information need to be provided to the NPI would in fact be misleading in describing the real position with companies and their management of environmental issues. A concerted program led by Simon Bennison and other members of the National Aquaculture Council provided 44 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

submissions to the EPHC which met on 2nd June (2007). The NAC reiterated the content of its submission of September 2006 and stated its disappointment that the only justification for the lifting of the exemption appeared to be one of equity and the right for the public to know. The NAC also stated that the industry was currently way over regulated, particularly compared to its international partners. “We told them that the industry was already conducting its reporting process through existing channels as per their licence conditions and all this information is on public record,” Simon explained. “The NAC recommend that staff and the TAP (Technical Advisory Panel) involved with this process, read publications such as that of the Productivity Commission report on environmental regulation concerning the aquaculture industry, to obtain a realistic understanding of the seriousness of environmental regulation impacting the industry. “The NAC also said they were also seriously concerned over the implications that may occur should our competitors wish to use certain information to their advantage. As was explained to them at a previous meeting, this could easily devastate the Tuna industry with the loss of regional jobs and the industry. Markets and consumers are sensitive to how this information is presented to them. This is not confined to the Tuna industry.” The issue of duplication was a major concern. “The industry already has excellent reporting procedures to Government on environmental performance and this added procedure is not justified at the Federal level. Had the TAP bothered to research how the industry meets its environmental and reporting obligations then this process of having to explain our position and attend numerous meetings could have

been avoided.” The NAC also had some big hitters in its corner. “We received great support from DAFF’s Glenn Hurry and Clayton Harrington,” said Simon. “Senator the Hon Eric Abetz (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) also raised the concerns of the aquaculture industry with his office, DAFF, DEH and the Prime Minister. “Minister Abetz expressed his concerns that the proposed variation conflicted with the Government’s previous commitments to streamline regulation of the aquaculture industry. He also said that commercial-in-confidence issues may negate reporting for some sectors if monitoring remained mandatory, and that data on the NPI website could be misinterpreted as it had no context.” The Hon Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources recently wrote to the NAC to advice that: “The general resolution to lift the exemption for aquaculture was not supported by the required number of jurisdictions and as such there will be no change to aquaculture and reporting to the Inventory.” However, it looks like the issue has not yet been totally resolved. Minister Turnbull also wrote “The aquaculture industry is currently well regulated through state and territory legislation and will continue to be so. I expect that there will be some ongoing pressure on the industry to make facility based emissions available to the public through the NPI. There was, however, no agreement at EPOBC to keep this issue on the Council’s agenda at this stage.” For more information contact Simon Bennison, Chief Executive Officer, National Aquaculture Council, PO Box 254, Cottesloe, Western Australia 6911. email address: nac@aquaculture.org.au Mob: 0407 776-439, web: www.australian-aquacultureportal.com


NEWS

New Zealand oyster industry tour summary T

he group pictured at right travelled to NZ for a flying 4 day visit during May 2007. We were hosted by Cawthron Institute’s Achim Janke, Henry Casper and Gillian. The industry tour developed from a similar visit by Achim and several NZ growers during 2006, after the Adelaide Australasian Aquaculture Conference. The group comprised of a wide range of backgrounds including growers, hatchery operators, researchers and both Australian selective breeding companies. All agreed the tour was a great success and the flow of information was extremely valuable. It is hoped a reciprocal group of industry and growers from New Zealand will travel to Australia next year to continue building our relationship with our oyster growing neighbours. The tour comprised of presentations, visits to research facilities, hatcheries, farms and processing facilities. We were also fortunate enough to be joined by David Stick from Hatfield Marine Science Centre (Oregon State University) who presented an overview of the North American selective breeding program. Scott, Wayne and Peter also presented information on the selective breeding programs and oyster research in Australia. I would like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by AusIndustry (Tasmania) and FRDC in funding some of the participants listed above. Outcomes of the tour included: • An insight into selective breeding in the NZ oyster industry. • An insight into selective breeding in the North American oyster industry. • A better understanding of cryopreservation and its potential for the Australian aquaculture industry (for both research and commercial applications). - An overview of single seed culture, stick culture and processing of Pacific oysters.

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Attendees (from left): David Stick (Oregon State University), Scott Parkinson (ASI), Graeme Cameron (Cameron of Tasmania), James Burke (ASI), Wayne O’Connor (NSW DPI), Peter Kube (CSIRO), Ray Tynan (SOCo and NSW Grower), Gary Zippel (S.A. Grower), Nick King (Cawthron Institute), Achim Janke (Cawthron Institute), and Mike Cameron (Cameron of Tasmania).

• An overview of mussel culture and processing. • ASI’s purchase of a flow through larval system to improve the efficiencies of the company and enable more families to be produced (a limiting factor of the current program). Specifically the trip included site visits to: Nelson (South Island) • Cawthron Institute, selective breeding, cryopreservation, algal and water quality monitoring and meat testing Marlborough sound (South Island) • Marlborough Mussels, Aaron Pannell: mussel farm tour • Sanford Mussels, Wayne MacDonald: processing plant

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Clevedon (North Island) • Clevedon Oysters, Callum McCallum: grower/processor Waiheke Island (North Island) • Waiheke Seafoods, Nat Upchurch: single seed oyster growing KeriKeri (North Island) • Sanford’s, Garth Richards: single seed oyster growing Whangaroa (North Island) • Pacific Marine Farms (PMF), Vince Syddall and Ian Herbert: Cawthron selective breeding - families; single seed oyster growing, traditional stick cultivation Kaeo (North Island) • Sanford’s, Peter Harris/ Garth Richards: oyster processing plant

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NEWS

New Zealand Pacific oyster industry – the facts • Over 90% of Industry based on stick culture. • Total production 3,500 tonnes, with a significant proportion exported. • Approximately 1,000 exported to Australia as frozen half shells. Exports of fresh product are problematic due to quarantine issues. • Value $30 Million NZ • 6 main operators with another 24 lease holders • Majority of production is ‘rack and rail’ with some subtidal • NZ leases appear substantially more productive (faster growing rates) than average Australian leases. • Low on-farm cost because of stick culture • High cost of processing because of stick culture • Single seed culture still in its infancy because of the cost of converting to basket culture, over-catch issues and seed cost. • Cawthron Institute producing the majority of single seed which is produced from their selective breeding

program. NIWA are also developing hatchery systems, but without a selective breeding program. How does Australia compare with selective breeding around the world? Australia • R&D expenditure on selective breeding is low compared to US. • The ASI selective breeding program is leading the world with regard to delivery of a commercial product, and a turn over of generations. • Between 24 and 30 families produced each year. • Selection is based on a range of traits with inbreeding managed. • Leaders in the commercialisation of selectively bred seed. – Pacific oysters 20% of total diploid seed sales – Sydney rock oysters approximately 30% of total seed requirements • Future direction being secure through industry run breeding programs (ASI and SOCo) • R&D direction set through strong industry and researchers institute

partnerships, NSW Fisheries and CSIRO. • Industry based on single hatchery seed with 30 years of domestication by commercial hatcheries • Australia’s decision to have a commercial focus for both breeding programs has paid dividends and as a result we have a significantly larger industry impact than both the US and NZ breeding programs • ASI program uses backward selection (i.e. progeny performance testing before any line released as commercial line) which provides a low risk commercial strategy. New Zealand • R&D expenditure on selective breeding is low, currently funded solely by Cawthron Institute • Narrow selection based on increase meat yield with no inbreeding, i.e. continual introduction of wild stock to program. • Between 30 and 60 families produced each generation. • Commercialisation occurring with a change in growing systems. • A significant hurdle is convincing growers to pay for hatchery seed instead of wild caught seed. • Forward selection for commercial production, prevents the benefit of progeny testing before commercial release North America • R&D expenditure on selective breeding high. • Selection based on total yield (problematic) and disease resistance. • Up to 100 families produced each generation. • Very low commercial production of seed from selectively bred lines • Limited numbers of potential broodstock is limiting commercialisation, and pressure from industry for commercial production. • Strong R&D focus e.g. – Marker assisted selection – Hybrid vigour through inbreeding – Proteomics and microarrays By Scott Parkinson

46 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


NEWS

South African study tour visits Oz I

n March this year a group of practising and prospective aquaculturists from South Africa toured a wide range of commercial aquaculture operations in South Australia and Victoria as part of an international networking and education program. The tour was led by Lachlan McKinnon (Audentes Investments Pty Ltd) and Leslie Ter Morshuizen (Aquaculture Innovations, South Africa). The purpose of the tour was to provide an introduction to South African fish farmers to a number of successful Australian aquaculture enterprises and to establish networking and possible marketing opportunities for both Australian and South African aquaculture industries. The tour group comprised a mixture of aquaculture consultants, commercial aquaculturists and prospective fish farmers from across South Africa. In South Australia the group visited a marine finfish hatchery, southern bluefin tuna and yellowtail kingfish growout operation, abalone production, oyster growout and mussel processing facilities. The Victorian leg of the tour included visits to intensive barramundi and Murray cod growout operations, ornamental fish and intensive eel production facilities, mussel, yabby and rainbow trout production and a look at freshwater aquaculture research at Snobs Creek. This tour was the first of what is anticipated to be an ongoing information exchange between Australia and South Africa. The two countries have a number of commercial aquaculture species and systems in common, including abalone, mussels, oysters and trout. South Africa is presently the largest producer of cultured abalone outside Asia, and its present level of production of mussels and oysters is comparable to that of Australia’s. Freshwater aquaculture production in South Africa is more limited, however a strong trout production industry is currently exporting product. There was also enormous interest within the group in a

number of Australian aquaculture ventures which have potential for development in South Africa, but which are presently not practiced there, including southern bluefin tuna and anguillid eels. The group was well received by all our Australian hosts and the tour provided countless potential networking opportunities for both hosts and visitors alike. It was found during the tour that good scope may exist for developing technical and business alliances between Australian and South African aquaculture industries. The opportunity to visit such a wide variety of operations was unique and greatly appreciated by all participants. Special thanks go to the following people for making their time and their facilities available to the group: - Jo Ciura, Stehr Group - Tom Hyde, SAM Abalone - Andrew Puglisi, Kinkawooka Shellfish - Mike & Anne Whillas, MC & AM Whillas Pacific Oysters - Peter Roefs, Pakenham Aquaculture - Brian Fox, Garfield Fish Farm - Shane Willis, Aquarium Industries - Russell, Boolarra Fish Farm - Linton Fisher, East Coast Eels - Roger Camm, Australian Aquaculture Products - Brett Ingram, DPI Snobs Creek

- Ed & Hugh Meggitt, Goulburn River Trout - Greg Williams, Central Victorian Yabby Farm - Lance Wiffen, Sea Bounty A reciprocal trip to South Africa will occur in October this year, where Australian aquaculturists will have the opportunity to visit commercial aquaculture operations and develop their network in South Africa. For details regarding the forthcoming Aquaculture Study Tour to South Africa, see advertisement, this page, or contact Lachlan as per information below. by Lachlan McKinnon Audentes Investments Pty Ltd Ph: 0407987011 Email: audentes@bigpond.com

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South African aquaculture study tour 15 – 26 Oct 2007 Tour includes visits to a broad range of commercial aquaculture production  and processing facilities including abalone, trout, mussels, oysters, tilapia, koi and other ornamentals, in the South East Cape region of South Africa. Plus attend the 8th Conference of the Aquaculture Association of Southern Africa in Cape Town. Tour provides a unique opportunity to experience commercial aquaculture in South Africa, establish industry and business contacts, and see some of the beautiful South African landscape. For further details contact: Lachlan McKinnon Audentes Investments Pty Ltd audentes@bigpond.com

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 47


NEWS

TAFE works with aquaculture industry to tackle skill shortages T

AFE Queensland’s lead Institute for aquaculture training is gearing up to tackle skill shortages in Queensland’s $67.9 million aquaculture industry. New aquaculture training will be introduced and existing courses restructured at Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE under measures designed to increase the number of qualified workers in the growing industry. Skill shortages were identified as one of the biggest challenges confronting the state’s producers at the first meeting of a new Aquaculture Industry Reference Group (IRG) last month. The IRG, comprising representatives from the prawn, barramundi, red claw, aquarium and crocodile farming sectors, industry groups, government agencies and education providers, has been formed to guide the provision of best practice aquaculture training through Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE. The Institute has state-wide responsibility for training product development and coordination as TAFE Queensland’s lead Institute for aquaculture training. Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE marine and aquaculture faculty

manager Phil Williams said skill shortages had the potential to hold back development of the growing industry. “From what industry producers and representatives have told us, securing skilled labour is going to be the biggest challenge for the industry in coming years,” Mr Williams said. “For TAFE as a training provider, that means we must work closely with industry to ensure our training is meeting the needs of existing workers and producers, as well as skilling the new workers so desperately needed.” Mr Williams said Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE was modifying its aquaculture training to better meet industry requirements. “We are working toward restructuring the Certificate III in Seafood Industry (Aquaculture) program to reduce the amount of time workers spend away from the farm at TAFE,” he said. “We also are planning to deliver a Certificate II level course to high school students in 2008 under our TAFE Secondary (TAFESEC) program, which gives participants the opportunity to gain recognised vocational qualifications while still at school.

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“That would give graduates the chance to secure employment directly upon leaving school, as well a providing industry with an expanded pool of qualified workers.” Mr Williams thanked industry representatives for their support to date and said the formation of the IRG was an important step in delivering the training industry wanted. “The aquaculture industry in Queensland and north Queensland particularly is a dynamic and fastgrowing industry facing increasing challenges as new farmed species are being trialed,” Mr Williams said. “A collaborative approach to training delivery involving key stakeholders within the aquaculture industry will benefit all those involved. “In keeping with its philosophy of community partnership, Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE is facilitating this process through the IRG, where representatives can interact and have input into the education and training delivered to the members of its industry.” The IRG, which will meet twice a year, will provide: • a review framework for current training; • a framework to develop future training delivery programs; • two-way communication regarding training and skills issues; • a framework to stimulate industry advocacy and raise community awareness; • a focal point for professional development, • an opportunity for interaction, networking and collaborative projects.

For more information on aquaculture training, contact Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE on 1300 656 959.


RESEARCH

Yellow belly flounder focus of breeding efforts T

he yellow belly flounder (Rhombosolea leporina) is found in commercial quantities in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. Between 100t and 250t are taken annually by the wild catch fishery. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric (NIWA) have recognized the importance of this fish on the domestic and global markets and are developing breeding techniques at their Ruakaka aquaculture park. As a component of NIWA’s ongoing research into new species, project leader, Yann Gublin, has developed breeding protocols for flounder and other marine finfish species. The broodstock grow well on commercial diets, which augers well for the growout phase of the aquaculture. The purpose of the research is to provide a reliable technique by which seedstock can be produced on a commercial scale. So far it looks encouraging. Spawning and incubation expertise has been successfully established. Ovulation is induced with hormone injection and an optimum hatching temperature for the pelagic eggs of 16°C has been determined. Dose rate for the females is 0.5ml of Ovaprim and no injection for the male because they are fluent but difficult to find. Spawners are selected from about 30 wild stock brought into the hatchery during August and September. After selection females for the advanced condition of the eggs and males for the motility of their sperm, a selected breeding team is injected. Six to eight hours after injection the eggs and sperm are hand stripped into a bowl containing sterilized seawater. The eggs are small, 0.4mm to 0.5mm, and take three days to hatch. A 1kg female in good condition can produce 50,000 to 80 000 eggs. Fertility has

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been around 70%. After hatching the larvae are moved to the rearing tanks and fed live rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis). The next step of the research is to carry the larvae through the critical metamorphoses of eye migration and pigmentation. Until day thirty the larvae swim vertically like normal finfish larvae. At this point they go to the bottom of the tank and assume their traditional flatfish shape. One eye migrates across the nasal bridge to join the other. It is during metamorphoses that losses start to occur. Likewise, full pigmentation is proving a problem. Yann is confident that these problems can be overcome. The next crucial stage comes at 10 weeks when the fry are weaned onto a manufactured feed. Yann said they are currently getting less than 1% of the spawned larvae through to growout on a dry diet. However, he has great faith in the flounder’s ability to become part of a major farming development. “The Japanese market is fully open for flat fish. They can be used in sushi and sashimi”, he said. “They have shown great interest in the project here”.

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By John Mosig Yann Gublin can be contacted on y.gublin@niwa.co.nz www.niwa.co.nz

1. Flounder bred at NIWA’s Bream Bay Aquaculture Centre.

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2. Bream Bay boasts some of the most sophisticated equipment available. Shown here is one of the fish transporter tanks used to translocate stock. 3. Yann inspecting some of the juvenile fish bred at Bream Bay. 4. Not without reason is New Zealand called the Land of The Long White Cloud. On the day of the visit there was more than 200mm in the region over a 24 hour period.

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 49


RESEARCH

Major study of ornamental fish industry in Australia The FRDC is the only national agency responsible for undertaking research and development (R&D) for the Australian fishing industry. This incorporates all sectors including commercial (wildcatch and aquaculture), recreational through to customary fishing.

W

orldwide, the keeping of ornamental fish in aquaria is a popular hobby. Aquaria are a regular sight in many homes, in workplaces, and other public spaces. Various sources report that the international trade of ornamental fish is growing rapidly and is approaching USD$1 billion p.a. Estimating value The ornamental fish industry in Australia is estimated to be worth $350 million annually, including accessories. This figure includes commercial fish breeding facilities, wholesale traders, retail outlets and the hobby industry. In Australia, the pet fish population is estimated to be over 25 million fish, with about 14% of the population participating in the aquarist hobby at some level. Yet it is difficult to be certain about these figures. According to the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) approximately 60% of aquarium fish are supplied domestically by local breeders; the other 40% are imported. Imports of ornamental fish in 2005–06 totalled approximately 16 million individual fish (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service 2007), estimated to be worth over $5 million (ABARE 2007). There is also an

50 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

active but difficult to quantify trade in fish within hobby associations and between enthusiasts. We need to be able to quantify accurately the true value and size of this growth industry. New research The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is currently undertaking research on the ornamental fish industry to fill this knowledge gap. Surveys conducted from June to September are the main methods for gathering information. The five key objectives of the research are to: • determine the overall structure, size, value and activities of the ornamental fish industry in Australia. • determine the level of recreational ornamental fish ownership and the types of owners - based upon level of seriousness (simple fish tank up to breeding and showing) • compile a list of the commercially important species traded in Australia categorised by value, source, and production method • develop a method to estimate the GVP of the industry on an annual basis.

A growth industry The FRDC considers that the breeding and keeping of ornamental fish is an activity with close linkages to aquaculture. Indeed, many of the fish husbandry techniques used in intensive aquaculture are equally applicable to ornamental fish. The FRDC believes there is excellent potential to grow the ornamental fish industry in Australia. The key to industry growth, however, is investment in R&D. The FRDC, through the extensive R&D networks that it has built up over the past 15 years, believes it can provide the mechanism for the ornamental fish industry to invest in its own R&D. In developing the survey the FRDC have been working with the key ornamental fish groups, such as the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA), to ensure relevant and useful information is collected. The survey of individuals and businesses involved in the ornamental fish industry will be carried out by two companies – EconSearch (contact Lizzie Clark on (08) 8431 5533) and Dosaqua (Dos O’Sullivan on 0418 130-595). The survey will consist of approximately 100 face to face interviews conducted across Australia with a random selection of ornamental fish industry related businesses and individuals.

If you have any further questions either on the survey or the FRDC please contact Justin Fromm on (02) 6285 0400 or email justin. fromm@frdc.com.au. For more information about the FRDC visit www.frdc.com.au


RESEARCH

Wakool saline basin produces a good feed of fish P

erseverance is about to pay off for those who have had faith in the possibility that fish could be successfully raised in saline groundwater in southern Riverina of NSW. The trials at the Inland Saline Aquaculture Research Centre (ISARC) at Wakool have been running for five years and now produces fresh mulloway (Argryosomus japonicus, Temminck and Schlegel) for seven local outlets. Much of the Murray-Darling Basin, which incorporates two thirds of Australia’s irrigation farm land, is under threat from highly saline, rising water tables. Murray Irrigation, a farmerowned corporation responsible for the water delivery to 2,400 farms over 748,000ha, has found itself having to deal with the consequences of a rising watertable. By subsurface draining at 60 pumping sites set five metres below the ground, it has been able to prevent the threatened loss of 50,000ha. The scheme indirectly protects additional land by intercepting saline groundwater during its westerly flow. The saline ground water is pumped into evaporation basins built on low lying ground 25km west of the rice growing centre of Wakool. Currently, most water is evaporated to produce industrial salt. Since 2001 trials have been conducted at the evaporation basins to establish the suitability of a number of marine and euryhaline species and have culminated in the selection of a short list of potential candidates for commercial production. While the capacity of the site is limited to small and medium scale trials, the outcomes will have national and even international application. Over 2.5m hectares of arable land are already salinity-compromised to varying degrees in Australia and with current climatic trends seemingly on fast forward, this is conservatively estimated to quadruple

within 30 years. The project is supported by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Murray Irrigation, the Australian Centre for International Aquaculture Research (ACIAR) and the National Aquaculture Council (NAC).

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Globally, a section of the project is a joint venture between the Australian sponsors and the Indian government. Indian farmers are faced with similar salinity problems and it is likely that favourable outcomes developed in either country – and the process by which they were achieved – will have shared application.

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Dr Geoff Allan and Dr Stewart Fielder, based at NSW DPI Port Stephens Fisheries Centre at Taylors Beach near Newcastle are the leading scientists for the project while Grant Webster – a graduate of the University of Tasmania’s Aquaculture Key Centre with 10 years experience in both commercial and research sectors – leads the on-site management of the program.

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The ponds The facility has been designed with research in mind. The five trial ponds are 0.05ha, 18m x 30m x 1.8m deep, and hold approximately 0.75ML. There is one pond of 0.1ha. Each is netted against bird predation and aerated by aspirators. The soil is fine tilth with anoxic layers so the ponds are lined. There is 3-phase power available to each pond. In some ways the size of the small ponds has limitations. In larger commercial waterbodies, performances might not be as uniform as those observed in the research ponds. Nevertheless, the small ponds allow for tight management, replication and close observation which are both fundamental requirements of a research situation. Being lined, there’s also not the bioremediation you would expect from an

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1. Presentation. Presentation. Presentation. Mulloway ready fore the market. 2. One of the 500g rainbow trout produced in saline water at Wakool. 3. A mulloway fingerling. “Mulloway are probably the best of the marine species we’ve handled”. 4. A shot of the ponds from the roof of the shed. The vast space behind the Research Centre shows the room into which the farm can be expanded. All photos curtesy NSW DPI.

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 51


RESEARCH 1

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earthen substrate. Without that bacterial action, feeding has to be closely monitored. Although, the region is not renowned for a great number of rainy days, the occasional rainfall can be heavy. The water One thing became obvious when the project got underway. Although the salinity was between 12ppt and 15ppt, it did not necessarily have the same constituent consistency as sea water. Potassium content, for example, was only 5% of that found in seawater. Marine species would only last a few days in the potassium deficient water. Trials run by Dr Stewart Fielder determined that the level had to be raised to at least 40% of that of seawater for efficient osmotic regulation and gill function. Muriate of potash is used to artificially elevate potassium levels. While the cost, at $600 a tonne is relatively high, it is expected that this would come down considerably with commercial production volumes. Water temperature when delivered to the ponds, varies with the season, but at 17°C to 21°C it is relatively stable. The dissolved oxygen of the water is close to saturation when it arrives at the farm; however CO2 levels are also high. This is reflected in the change in the pH from neutral to 8 to 8.6 once the water is aerated. Even though plankton blooms necessitate the use of the aerators for 12 hours a day from time to time, the saline water has a high carbonate hardness and is well buffered against pH swings that can accompany high levels of phytoplankton activity.

1. The thermal blanket used at ISARC to hold water temperatures at between 1°C and 5°C warmer than the daily winter ambient. 2. Winners and losers from the saline basin trials at Wakool. From the data collected so far, it would appear that trout are by far the better performers 3. One of the smaller trial ponds at ISARC. 4. Currently, most water is evaporated to produce industrial salt. 5. Technical assistant Dianna Brettschneider recording data on the computer. As with all research, accurate records and data analysis are crucial evaluating the next step in the program.

52 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

When the scheme was first initiated, delivery volume from the drainage scheme was 35ml/day. The flow has subsided since and is now a steady 10ml to 20ml/day. Even at the end of the prolonged 10-year dry spell, in 2007 a daily flow of 15ml was available to the facility. Any commercial development will be modular and can be built and managed according to the available water. The volume of available groundwater may vary according to the seasons and

the consequent re-charge from rainfall and irrigation. Inland temperatures in the Riverina are high during the summer and the open nature of the flood plain leaves it exposed to wind. Both contribute to an annual evaporation of 1.4m, most of which occurs during summer. Rainfall is mainly in the winter and averages 373mm. Any impact from evaporation and rainfall on salinity on the pond is tempered by water exchange. Because of the need to regulate the potassium levels, water exchange has been restricted to replacing water lost to evaporation. Amounting to about 10% a week during the warmer months, this keeps the salinity pretty close to the background levels of the incoming water. Grant explains that while the outcomes from the project are applicable to other saline sites around the world, each site has to deal with its own peculiarities, such as the chemical make-up of its water and local geo-climatic conditions. Species The species trialled were chosen by several criteria: their likelihood of being able to cope with the variable conditions encountered in an inland saline situation, a high market value, and a closed life cycle (juvenile availability). They were all from established aquaculture industries so, as Grant puts it, they weren’t trying to re-invent the wheel. Sydney Rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata)., black tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon), Japanese tiger prawns (Penaeus japonicus), snapper (Pagrus auratus), silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), brown trout (Salmo trutta), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and mulloway were all trialled. All species were grown out to market size. Rainbow trout and mulloway have been listed as having commercial potential. Ponds are lined and while Penaeus japonicus grew to market size and have an enticing market value, the cost of laying a sand substrate would have to be evaluated. Not needing the potassium levels of a marine species, rainbow trout were able


RESEARCH

to be grown without having to add muriate of potash to the water. They grew extremely well while the water temperature remained below 20°C (between late April and mid November). Stocked as 50g fingerlings they were turned off at an average of 600g. Although not grown commercially in Australia in static ponds, they did survive and grow in the mechanically aerated environment. They returned similar FCR’s to those achieved in commercial flow through systems: 1:1 to 1.1:1. They were distributed through local retail outlets meeting a good response and favourable comments about a great flavour. Grant points out that the mulloway that are now reaching market size have been part of three separate trials and this may have compromised their performance. Firstly they were reared from 3g fry to 180g fingerlings over their first summer. Then they were part of a winter temperature evaluation with half held in open ponds and the rest kept under a thermal blanket to maintain temperatures 1-5°C higher than the ambient control pond. At the end of the trial the thermally favoured fish were 300g against the control average of 250g. By the middle of the following summer they had reached an average of 600g. Mortalities under the cover were nil; uncovered they were 1% to 4%. The trout were not held at ISARC through the summer; by contrast the mulloway were held through their thermally challenging period (winter). Grant says the metabolism of the mulloway slows down at water temperatures below 17°C and feeding ceases below 13°C. No clinical diseases were observed on any of the species during the growout trials. Prawns It wasn’t possible to grow the tiger prawns to market size because water wasn’t warm enough for long enough. Although the day temperatures are generally warm to torrid in the western Riverina, coolish nights throughout the summer restricted their growth. And from a value point of view, the smaller

size end of the market is crowded with imported vannamai prawns from South East Asia, principally Vietnam. Japonicus on the other hand, were less stressed by the cooler, fluctuating temperatures and grew well. Their economics however would have to be explored as the premium export market is Japan. A rising yen is certainly helpful, but not the rising Aussie dollar. Furthermore, the ponds would need to be sand lined. Logistically this is not a problem as there is river sand readily available in the region. Pond temperatures Pond temperatures from 8°C to 29°C have been recorded but the minimum is an extreme event. Mostly winter temperatures are above 10°C. Summer peaks are also short lived. The ponds average 21°C to 26°C over the warmer months; however, they can fluctuate as much as 6°C with the cold spells experienced in an inland Mediterraneantype climate. It appears the growing period for salmonids is more favourable from a commercial point of view. By Anzac Day the ponds have dipped below 20°C. Between June and August pond temperatures are stable: between 10°C and 12°C. As the days lengthen, the day temperature increases but the crisp nights keep pond temperatures down. Grant says that they stay constantly below 20°C until early November.

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“We can do trout here quite well from mid April to late November,” he says. “The mulloway are probably the best of the marine species we have handled. They are more tolerant of handling and husbandry than snapper. Many generations worth of selection have gone into breeding the rainbow trout we farm and this may influence their performance. Winter temperatures can be a problem for mulloway. When it gets down below 14°C they lack appetite and are very inactive.” Temperature swings are something to be taken into consideration in relation to husbnadry issues. “We haven’t had any disease problems, but I don’t think it

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RESEARCH

Tumut NSW, where the stock were conditioned to warmer water, appeared to be more temperature tolerant at the higher end than those sourced from elsewhere where water temperatures are much colder. This leads Grant to comment that over the long run, genetic selection would play a role in the development of suitable fish for the vagaries of inland saline aquaculture.

Annette Dow of the Wakool Café holding one of the mulloway the ISARC are producing from their ponds.

Feeding The mulloway were fed Ridleys Native Fish Starter diet until they were ready for 2mm barramundi grower pellets. These have a high protein and low carbohydrate and medium fat content. (43% Protein, 20% Fat, 2-5% Fibre) Feed conversion efficiency was 1.6:1. Grant says the mulloway had to be coaxed a bit. “They’re timid fish and they feed mid water. We installed a belt feeder with a 5kg hopper set on a 12 hour cycle. It was only a couple of days before they were schooling tightly under the feeder. We used feeding mats to monitor feed consumption and we were mostly getting 100% uptake. Once the ponds got up around 20°C we could feed the smaller fish 5% of their body weight. Their second summer we could feed 2% to 2.5% a day. Once they reached 500g we cut it back to 1.5% to 1.75% a day,” he explains.

Grant proudly shows off one of the rainbow trout grown at ISARC.

would be too hard to generate problems especially if you’re handling them. They’re not feeding well so they’re potentially immune compromised,” he says. At the other end of the scale, when pond temperatures exceed 28°C, Grant and his team have to keep an eye on their feeding vigour and the morning DO levels even though the mulloway are still feeding. Grant feels he gets optimum performance at temperatures between 21°C and 26°C. The rainbow trout performed best between 9°C and 17°C. Below 10°C they became sluggish; over 17°C there was a gradual loss of appetite. However, trout sourced from Triton Trout at 54 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

Feeding rates are also governed by the water quality. Generally, the staff weren’t doing a lot of water exchange in the ponds. Grant also observes that the mulloway don’t have the same vigorous appetite as the trout. He notes that the trout can take up to 8% of their body weight a day; however, he restricts their feed intake to 3% a day. It was under this regime that they achieve FCRs of 1:1. Preference From the data collected so far, it would appear that trout are by far the better performers. They can be turned off from a 50g fingerling in six months and the water doesn’t have to be enhanced. They convert feed at a commercially competitive 1:1, seedstock is readily available and they have market acceptance. While

they may not attract as high a price as mulloway, this is offset against the above advantages. Japanese tiger prawns came in a distant third. Grant refers to an earlier comment that different sites will present different parameters. “Other sites in the vicinity do not have the same potassium deficiency and have ground water 2°C warmer. In this case the production system could be based on a semi-flow through system for marine species without the restrictions on feeding and DO management that is associated with pond based systems. This is a national effort and the aim is to get inland saline aquaculture established. This is just part of the program,” he says. Marketing Annette Dow of the Wakool Café has handled the trout and the mulloway. She is one of several local distribution points Murray Irrigation is using to evaluate the market acceptance of fresh fish. “We have regular customers who get their fish every week. Then there are the campers. They can’t believe they can get fresh mulloway in the middle of the bush,” Annette says. “We moved about 30 fish a week, more during the holiday season. Visitors to the district like to go out to the farm and have a look. It’s fascinating to see a fish farm in the middle of a salt pan.” Clean fresh fish are sold for $10/kg to local retail outlets and restaurants. They are sold on at $14/kg. This is more than competitive. More importantly, however, consumers in regions far removed from access to fresh seafood have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of fish farmed locally Over 1,200 fish have been sold so far and Grant expects to clean out the remaining 400 from the trial before the onset of the cooler weather. Annette is also enthusiastic about the possibility of investment and job opportunities further development would bring. The drought has brought home to rural Australia a frightening scenario. “The rice silo at Burraboi usually has a queue of trucks a mile long in the autumn. This year it was all over by


RESEARCH

Easter. And it was an early Easter,” she adds. Grant says there is quite a deal of interest in the project amongst the local farmers. Rice plantings were reduced dramatically this season and those who did sow reduced their area to 10% of normal. “This is one positive thing that’s happening around the area. We get farmers popping in for a bit of a chat and a look around.” There has been conjecture that mulloway are not a good eating fish. Along the NSW coast the juveniles are called ‘soapies’ because of their soapy taste. Grant has found no sign of this from the fish produced at ISARC. “We’ve had only two adverse reports. From 1,200 pieces that’s not bad. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fish. Comments we’re getting back are along the lines of ‘so that’s what fresh fish tastes like’. When they come back for more you know you’re on the right track,” he says. Fish farming potentially offers a way to gain more value from saline water.

The economics Many cost savings can be implemented for the commercial operation of a saline growout facility. For example: currently their muriate of potash usage is small, so purchases are in pallet load lots. It takes 200kg to lift the potassium level of a megalitre pond to 40% of seawater. That costs $120. Each 10% water exchange costs $12. On a commercial scale, the potash would be purchased in bulk at considerable saving. The water is pumped onto the research site. A commercial operation could be set up to take advantage of the natural fall of the land. Other costs incurred such as fry and fingerlings could be reduced under commercial incentives. Breaks in growth due to monitoring growth and other parameters carried out for data collection purposes would not be so intrusive to production outcomes. The future Murray Irrigation’s economic motivation is to offset the cost of operating the sub-

surface drainage system. Presently, the salt is extracted from evaporation ponds covering 1,600ha. Murray Irrigation is hoping to obtain better value from the saline waste water than just salt extraction. The program so far has eliminated several of the high value species put forward as candidates. Now that at least three have been identified, the future looks promising. Commercialisation using information gleaned over the last five years is the next step. With the funding for the current research running out at the end of June, is it possible that the next round of development at Wakool will see Australia’s first commercial inland saline basin fish farm built. By John Mosig Dr Stewart Fielder can be contacted by phone on (02) 49163902, and by email on stewart.fielder@dpi.nsw.gov.au Grant Webster can be contacted by phone on (03) 5887 3366, and by email on grant.webster@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Q A

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Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 55


A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Prawn imports: Continued caution urged I

refer to the article by Norm Grant in the June 2007 issue regarding Biosecurity Australias Import Risk Analysis on Prawns and Prawn products. The fact that Australians wish to eat more seafood does not give seafood importers a license to endanger local industries and our environment by continuing to import high risk commodities (like whole green prawns) from places where exotic diseases occur. Norm conveniently failed to mention that WSSV, to use his example, infects not only prawns, but all life stages of all decapod crustaceans. In fact, WSSV can cause disease not only in prawns, but in a wide range of crustaceans including crabs, lobsters and freshwater crayfish. Even planktonic crustaceans like copepods (which form vital parts of aquatic food chains) can accumulate high virus loads and help to spread the disease. Therefore it is a very simplistic view by Norm to state that overseas experience suggests there is no evidence that disease agents like WSSV have caused measurable impacts on

wild populations of prawns (or crabs, copepods and other crustaceans too for that matter). Is Norm sure that the authorities in Thailand, Vietnam, India and China have done the required indepth marine ecologial studies which are needed to show no impact? It’s hard to find a measurable change if you don´t actually do the measuring. Also, all evidence suggests that WSSV originated from China and is probably naturally occurring throughout some parts of Asia. If this is the case it would be expected that wild populations of crustaceans in those areas would be adapted to the virus in some way. However, WSSV has not been detected in the wild in Australia and Australias crustaceans have therefore evolved in the absence of this and many other exotic disease agents. The reality is it is unclear how these naïve hosts in the wild would react if exposed to WSSV and other exotic disease agents which occur in green prawns. Because the responsibility of making these decisions lies with the Australian Government, they take a necessarily conservative view when faced with these unknowns

as once these agents become established, they are here for good. I think Biosecurity Australias arrived at a very pragmatic and practical position which, we should remind readers, only restricts imports of the highest risk commodities. Australian consumers still have full access to imported prawns, provided they are cooked or have tested free of exotic diseases ! Before importers run to the WTO (a waste of time I would think), perhaps they should consider what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot. It’s the ability of importers to hide behind government decisions when things go wrong that allows them to take such a cavalier position on the risks involved. Importers are the ones making big dollars out of these risky commodities, so it stands to reason they can and should pay for testing to reduce risk of disease incursions which would otherwise endanger local industries and our environment. However, I think we should go even further. I bet the attitude of importers would not be so cavalier if they were required to pay compensation to the affected industries and restitution to all future generations of Australians when the risks catch up with them and things go wrong. Ben Diggles PhD DigsFish Services Pty Ltd 32 Bowsprit Cres Banksia Beach QLD 4507 AUSTRALIA Ph/fax: +61 7 34088443 Mob: +61 (0) 403 773 592 ben@digsfish.com www.digsfish.com Skype: ben_diggles

56 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


TECHNOLOGY

A 20 year association with Australasian aquaculture T

ony Rumbold of Scanz Technologies sold his first piece of aquaculture equipment in Tasmania – a motion compensated scale – to abalone diver Tony Wurf in 1987. The second sale was to Richard Doedens for his hatchery in National Park – a small Transvac fish pump that is still working today! Richard was one of the pioneers of the Tasmania Salmon & Trout industries, and an ex abalone diver. So began a love affair with Australian aquaculture. Since then Scanz has had an involvement as a supplier in every state and territory of the Commonwealth. Equally it has encompassed a wide range of species from Barramundi in the far North, to Kingfish in the South, Prawn farmers on the central coast, and Salmon and Trout in Tasmania. In New Zealand activities have been centred on Salmon, Kingfish, Abalone and more recently the Greenshell MusselsTM. The post crash years of 1990 and 1991 were very difficult in New Zealand, but fortunately corresponded to a wave or re-development in Australia which largely kept Scanz viable. A stated policy of Scanz has been to work with world class suppliers; many of those early connections remain part of the Scanz stable today with the owners close personal friends of Tony. Brands such as Vaki, Aqualife, Faivre, Pisces, Air Products and TMC spring to mind. What of the future – the aquaculture industry has matured, in line with many industries in the primary sector. No more so is this in evidence than in Tasmania where rationalisation of the Salmonid industry has created three strong players. A similar trend has emerged with Kingfish in South Australia and to a lesser extent Barramundi. The same applies in New Zealand.

Technology marketing and capital requirements demand this consolidation. On top of that new species for fish farming are limited, although having said that, it is exciting to see at long last Striped Trumpeter is becoming commercialised. There are also exciting developments on both sides of the Tasman with Lobster on-growing and Eel farming where both species have closed life cycles, but as we all know that is only the beginning!! Aquaculture demands long-arms and deep pockets, plus significant support from State and Federal Governments, but if we want to eat fish in the future, then farming is our only option. Already 40% of global fish consumption is farmed. In Australia the situation is probably more challenging, because of current water shortages. The future for fresh water farming is probably dubious unless intensive recirculation technology is used. Fortunately the know-how for this is now well advanced, and a number of significant developments are taking place. Scanz in tandem with IAA of Denmark has been at the forefront of this technology.

What are the challenges for a supplier? Aside from the rapid developments in technology, the geography in Australia is a real challenge, not to mention the associated costs of travel and distribution. Scanz keeps up to date with a lot of desk research plus attendance of International Trade Fairs. There is no alternative to farming fish. What has to be appreciated by potential investors and to a lesser extent existing players is the complex nature of the business. Merely closing the life-cycle is just the beginning. Fortunately, because the industry is maturing and governments realise its importance, research and development money is filtering into the system. Equally the longer-established suppliers of equipment and feed have their research own programmes, so knowledge and assistance is available – the secret, taking best advantage of the appropriate technology, and working closely with established and proven supply companies. Finally we should not overlook the fact that fish farming is a very efficient converter of proteins with a relatively benign carbon footprint. Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 57


CONFERENCE NEWS

Seafood Directions 2007 Seafood for Tomorrow – Embracing Change

S

eafood Directions originated in 1999 (hosted by the South Australian Seafood Council) as an initiative of the Fisheries Research Development Cooperation (FRDC). Its intent was to provide a national forum for the exchange of ideas, identification of national seafood industry issues and to provide an opportunity for learning from experts colleagues and associated industries. Seafood Directions 2007 will bring together a wide range of stakeholders from the Australian seafood industry via their participation in presentations, exhibitions and workshops. Operating under the theme of ‘Seafood for Tomorrow – Embracing Change’ the conference is endeavoring to examine a number of critical strategies and from which develop an action plan to successfully guide the industry into the future. The conference program has been divided into five themes accreditation, people in industry, co-management, climate change and changing markets. The program structure allows

for two theme topics to run concurrently on both days. Attendees will hear a keynote speaker’s address for each of the differing themes before the concurrent sessions begin. Sessions will comprise of a blend of speaker presentations and allotted breakout periods to facilitate discussion and debate. Speakers at the conference will deliver presentations on a wide array of topics including, ISO accreditation, EMS, succession planning, research in co-management, price fixing and future marketing strategies. Confirmed speakers include Donna Petrachenko, Paul Catalano, Ron Edwards and Eddie Hegerl ensuring a high degree of expertise on relevant industry issues. The organising committee is of the belief that the program they have formulated, with the assistance of relevant speakers and presenters will help simulate discussion and development of national strategies to meet the challenges faced by industry. Speakers from outside the seafood industry have been identified to present on a number of program topics in an attempt to draw parallels between the seafood industry and other industries that share similar challenges. Whilst presentations are given and issues debated during the first two days of the conference (31 October /1 November) a trade show will also be running in the nearby Federation Ballroom. This will include exhibition and demonstrations from some of the nations leading producers, researchers and service providers. The Seafood Directions Conference organising committee is pleased to release the current list of confirmed speakers and topics for the plenary sessions of this year’s event. This list draws authorities from a host of differing fields, professions and industries in an attempt to provide new perspectives on a host of issues and concerns relevant to the Australian seafood industry. A tight schedule has been developed for the conference which gets underway with the Seafood Services Australia welcome reception at the Hotel Grand Chancellor on 30 October from 5.00pm. Other highlights of the conference include drinks at Government House on 31 October from 7.00pm and the Australian Seafood Gala Awards Dinner at the Wrest Point Casino on 1 November from 7pm.

Further details including speaker biographies, pictures and conference abstracts are available from the conference websites (www.seafooddirections.com) , as is the latest draft of the conference program. or by contacting TFIC on (03) 6224 2332. A number of sponsorship and exhibition packages are also still available. Please contact Conference Design on (03) 6224 3773 for further details. 58 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


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FISHENEWS

ABALONE ABALONE VIRUS STILL SPREADING

Early in June, recreational divers discovered an new area in which abalone are infected by the ganglioneuritis virus – the central zone area between the Hopkins River in Warrnambool to Lakes Entrance. There are fears the $100 million wildstock abalone fishery will be destroyed by the infection, which emerged in December 2005 at Port Fairy’s abalone farm. Source: Monique Crapper in the Warrnambool Standard (27/6/2007).

MAJOR AUGUSTA RESORT POISED FOR COUNCIL APPROVAL

A proposal for a major resort at Naturaliste Road, Augusta, is currently with the Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council. The venture, by Augusta Marine Resources and developer Two Oceans, is for an integrated abalone farm, restaurant and resort with ecosensitive walking trails. Source: Claire Allen, in the Busselton Margaret River Times (7/6/2007).

ABALONE VIRUS CONTROLLED, NOT CURED

The ganglioneuritis virus damaging Victoria’s abalone industry has now been described as controlled but not cured. The disease caused some abalone farms to cull and restock. Speaking at the annual conference of the Australian Veterinarian Association, Dr Paul HardySmith said the disease was transmitted by wild abalone. He also said farms were clear of the virus and that efforts were directed to finding a cure for the disorder. Source: Herald Sun (15/5/2007).

BARRAMUNDI BARRAMUNDI BOOMING

In Queensland the extension of the aquaculture industry is being spearheaded by the barramundi sector, which has shown a greater than 20 per cent production increase in 2005-2006. The State’s total aquaculture value rose by four per cent, from $67.9 million in 20042005, to $70.5 million in 2005-2006. The sole contributing factor was barramundi production. Source: Innisfail Advocate (5/7/2007).

AUSTRALIS AQUACULTURE SECURES CAPITAL TO EXPAND

Investors have supported barramundi producer Australis Aquaculture’s bid to raise $8 million to expand operations in Vietnam and the US. Australis plans to immediately issue $3.3 60 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007


FISHENEWS

million of equity at 50 cents per share. Next month shareholder approval will be sought to issue the remaining $4.7 million of shares. There’ll also be a vote on proposed dealings with the company Western Kingfish. Australis has successfully made barramundi an in-demand product in the US, to the extent that demand now exceeds supply. Source: John Beveridge in the Herald Sun (14/6/2007); West Australian (15/6/2007).

INFINITY FISHERIES NEAR YANDERRA

The Infinity Fisheries barramundi farm near Yanderra was built in January 2000, and now produces 2000kg of fish weekly. The farm was built by Infinity Construction Engineering as a pilot for a water recirculation system designed to grow fish in a stress-free environment with nil environmental impact. Owner Andrew Yasbek explains it took a while to work the system out, but now it’s used to grow fish without antibiotics or chemicals. The farm is in a controlled-climate building and uses spring water. Product is an easy seller into Sydney restaurants and Asian markets. There are aspirations to double the farm’s capacity, and diversify into tourism. Source: Jane Sehlmeier in the Macarthur Chronicle (5/6/2007).

TAILOR MADE FISH FARMS $2 MILLION EXPANSION

The Tailor Made Fish Farms at Bobs Farm is to undergo a $2 million expansion. The barramundi farm also grows hydroponic vegetables in a linked water management system. The Federal Government has made $500,000 available to Tailor Made Fish Farms to improve operations. The business is to develop tourism and education centres, and will hire up to ten staff. Tailor Made Fish Farms has also received support from the state’s Hunter Advantage Fund. Source: Newcastle Herald (1/6/2007).

UNUSUAL EXPERIENCES & BIG EXPANSION PLANS

Four workers at the Australis Fish Farm in Massachusetts had an unusual experience when part of a filtration system collapsed as they were standing on it. They fell into a tank which in some reports was described as containing fish faeces – something denied by Australis Aquaculture Ltd – and were trapped for 45 minutes - until rescued after a hole was cut into the 5.5m container. They sustained no serious injuries. Some 150 business and investment representatives will be able to enjoy the experience of being served Australis barramundi when they attend BIO2007 in Boston, USA this month. Brisbane chef Philip Johnson will prepare the dish, at the world’s biggest biotechnology convention. Australis is considering extending business into Vietnam, with the potential to expand twenty-fold within five years. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with a Vietnamese aquaculture group. Expectations are the identified pristine marine site could produce 3,500 tonnes of barramundi within two years of establishment. Most product would go to European and North American markets.

TAILOR MADE FUNDING

The Federal Government has made $500,000 available to Tailor Made Fish Farms to improve operations. The land-based barramundi farm grows hydroponic vegetables in the fish farm waste water. The funding will help the farm to develop multispecies aquaculture processing. The business will be able to cut fish fillets, prepare smoked varieties and provide supermarket packaging. Managing director Nick Arena advises the changes will lead to a tripling of production, to around 90,000 kilos of barramundi annually. In 2006, Tailor Made Fish Farms received $634,000 to develop aquaculture tourism, an education centre and to hire nine staff. Source: Newcastle Herald (1/5/2007); Josh Leeson in the Port Stephens Examiner (3/5/2007).

FISH HEALTH FUNDS FOR AMOEBIC GILL DISEASE RESEARCH

The Federal Government has provided $1.285 million for research into treatments for amoebic gill disease, in support of Tasmania’s Atlantic Salmon industry. The disease causes major problems in the State’s $220 million industry, and is estimated to cost $15 million each year in treatment costs. It’s intended research will lead to a vaccination program. Source: Huon News (23/5/2007).

JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY MAKES INROADS ON CRUSTACEAN VIRUS PREVENTION

PhD student Kerry Claydon has conducted research creating a crustacean cell line, a disease-fighting tool. A cell line is a permanent cell system contained within a bottle and could help destroy viruses infecting crustaceans. This could protect the aquaculture industry from huge financial losses. In 1987/88 Taiwan’s prawn aquaculture industry was affected by a virus which reduced the country’s industry tonnage by 62 per cent. A similar event occurred in China in 1993/94, with a 58 per cent loss. Kerry Claydon is a researcher at the James Cook University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. Source: Capricorn Coast Mirror (16/5/2007).

RMIT HELPS FIGHT BASA INFECTION

Microbiologist Peter Coloe, head of the School of Applied Sciences at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, is working on a vaccine to give fish immunity to the Edwardsiella ictaluri bacteria which is a problem on Vietnamese catfish farms. While not a problem for humans, the infection affects the growth rate of fish and can result in fish deaths. Australia imports thousands of tons of catfish from Vietnam each year. Source: Geoff Maslen in the Age (30/4/2007).

Source: Sunday Canberra Times (13/5/2007); AAP Newswire (14 & 15/5/2007); Western Cape Bulletin (9/5/2007). Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 61


FISHENEWS

M U R R AY C O D

O T H E R F R E S H WAT E R F I S H

MANAGING FARMED MURRAY COD

The Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Victoria have published ‘Fish Health Management Guidelines for Farmed Murray Cod’, a practical manual for farmers to use to help keep their fish disease-free. Source: Riverine Herald (13/7/2007).

O T H E R C R U S TA C E A N S WESTERN KINGFISH LOOKING AT LOBSTERS

Western Kingfish has announced it’s looking at an aquaculture facility, to warehouse and grow out wild-caught Western Rock Lobster, thus changing the way the WA lobster market works. The plan is to store the lobsters for up to four months, with the option to enhance the animal’s natural red colour. The technology to be used comes from the related company Australis Aquaculture. In the longer term there’ll be work on growing juvenile lobsters to maturity. To date in Australia, farming of the species has not progressed too far beyond the experimental stage. Source: John Beveridge in the Herald Sun (21/6/2007); Cathy Bolt in the West Australian (21/6/2007).

FUNDS FOR MARRON WORK

The Aquatic Resource Management Group has been funded $22,000 to by the South West Development Commission to perform a pilot research program into marron farming practices, and into developing the industry to address increased export demand. The Group has also been granted nearly $50,000 in Federal funds to proceed with a venture to process marron for export to Scandinavia. The technology and systems for export will be developed. The import of live marron to Scandinavia is totally banned, and freezing methods will be investigated. The outcomes could be of benefit to some 300 licensed marron growers in the region. Source: Donnybrook Bridgetown Mail (22/5/2007). Conrad Natoli in the Manjimup Bridgetown Times (30/5/2007).

SAUCER SCALLOPS AND SOFT SHELLED CRABS

Bundaberg Port is home to two interesting seafood production industries - working with soft shelled crabs and saucer scallops. They’re both located on the Burnett River. Coral and Coast Mariculture is close to producing soft shelled crabs, probably as soon as August. Queensland Sea Scallops is on the verge of supplying saucer scallops from its local aquaculture venture. The business has its own hatchery, and ranches the young scallops, which are farmed using traditional trawling techniques. Source: Bundaberg Bugle (1/6/2007)

62 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

OVERSEAS INTEREST IN FISH GROWN IN TREATED EFFLUENT

Integrated Recycle International Queensland (IRIQ) is to grow fish in treated effluent storage ponds at Hervey Bay. Pontoons are being installed in the 600 megalitre Pulgul Farm Storage Dam to facilitate the project, which is being set up in cooperation with the Wide Bay Water Corporation. The fish will be processed for the aquaculture and livestock industry. The water will also be used to irrigate tree plantations. A professor of environmental engineering from Marmara University in Istanbul, Dr Mehmet Ali Yukselen, has spent time in Hervey Bay learning about the project. He’s been appointed by IRIQ as an independent advisor to identify opportunities and to speak to interested parties in Cyprus and Turkey. Source: Hervey Bay City Independent (13/7/2007).

BONY BREAM FOR AQUACULTURE FEED PELLETS

Integrated Recycle International Queensland is to grow bony bream in the nutrient-rich waters of a 600 megalitre dam at Hervey Bay. Pontoons are being installed in the dam to facilitate the project, which is being set up in cooperation with the Wide Bay Water Corporation. The bream will be processed into pellets for the aquaculture industry. The water will then be used to irrigate tree plantations. Source: Hervey Bay City Independent. (8/6/2007).

RECYCLED WATER FARM ON THE BELLARINE PENINSULA

The Department of Primary Industries Marine and Freshwater Institute has run trials for several years to demonstrate the feasibility of growing fish which consume the algae in recycled sewage water. There’s now a plan to establish such a farm on the Bellarine Peninsula. Project leader Fiona Gavine advises a carp farm could use Class C recycled water, predominantly producing pet food. A 100ha pond could use the water from a treatment point at Black Rock. However there are some impacts to be considered, including visual amenity, odours and increased traffic in the area. An information and consultation process with residents, consumers and other stakeholders will take place in the next weeks. Source: Andrew Mathieson in the Bellarine Independent (8/6/2007).

OTHER MARINE FISH CLEAN SEAS KINGFISH PRODUCTION

Clean Seas Tuna chairman Hagen Stehr advises the company plans to sell more than 1.25 million kilos of kingfish in the next financial year, boosting sales figures by $11.5 million. In 2005-2006, the company produced 600 tonnes - this financial year the target is 1250 tonnes. There are also intentions of producing some 1.2 million kingfish fingerlings in 2007-2008, theoretically worth some $30 million in sales. Some 40 per


FISHENEWS/MARKETPLACE

cent of the kingfish produced by the company are sold in Australia - the majority is sold overseas. Source: Alexandra Tredrea in the Adelaide Advertiser (10/7/2007); Eyre Peninsula Tribune (12/7/2007).

recirculative aquaculture system (RAS). Barramundi Blue is in discussions to export its technology throughout Asia, and plans an extension to its own facilities. Source: Tony Raggatt in the Townsville Bulletin (13/6/2007).

RED SNAPPER FARM

WORKERS WANTED - A PROBLEM FOR CLEAN SEAS

Clean Marine Aquaculture is looking to develop the country’s first land-based closed-loop fish farm at Low Head, to breed 1.2 million fish each year. Plans are to produce plate-size baby snapper for the Asian market. The site has been chosen since it’s close to processor George Town Seafoods, and to clean oceanic water and infrastructure. A community consultation period is expected to commence soon. The company would like to start construction – expected to last for six months – in November or December.

Following the acquisition of South Australia Mariculture (SAAM), Clean Seas Limited is having difficulty in recruiting workers. The company has had little success in Whyalla. Clean Seas is interested in people with a long-term commitment to a career in aquaculture. A Whyalla Economic Development Board spokesman advises there are already plans in motion to address the need for aquaculture education.

Source: Rachel Williams in the Launceston Examiner (6/7/2007).

WESTERN KINGFISH FLOAT

The Western Kingfish $8 million float to gain capital has been heavily over-subscribed. The float’s great success, with the money intended to fund Yellowtail Kingfish and western rock lobster aquaculture production, is likely to stimulate renewed interest in the attempt by the Department of Fisheries to introduce a protocol for western rock lobster aquaculture. Recently a petition on the issue has raised serious questions about the Department’s intentions. Basically, concerns are that the Department is not intending to align rock lobster aquaculture under the West Coast Rock Lobster Fishery Management Plan, which means effectively that two industries will compete for the same resource. However a Department spokesman stresses the Working Group on the matter will work out a ‘sustainable and equitable policy’. Source: Andrew Pascoe in the Mid-West Times (5/7/2007).

BIG MOVES FOR BARRAMUNDI BLUE

Barramundi Blue Aquaculture of Bemerside has been appointed as project manager and technology supplier to Vietnamese company United Seafood Packer Company (USPC), for its $3.5 million fish farm venture at Phuoc Hai in the Vung Tau province. USPC will take a 65 per cent stake in the SAI-PAC Fish Farm Company Limited, building an indoor barramundi and grouper fish farm. The farm will use Barramundi Blue’s

Source: Whyalla News (14/6/2007).

SEA-URCHIN CULTURE

Macquarie University now has a spin-off company, Ausuni, which is to develop a sea-urchin aquaculture venture. Ausuni will use $355,000 provided by Ausindustry to develop the enterprise. Sea-urchin roe commands as much as 5000 yen per 20gm serve in high-class Japanese restaurants - $3000 per kilo. The intent is to develop a year-round supply of roe to take advantage of seasonal price variation. More information at www.ausuni.com.au. Source: Canberra Times (21/5/2007).

OYSTERS ARAFURA PEARLS

Arafura Pearls has announced a 220 per cent increase in sales revenues. In 2006 the company reported $4.6 million - in 2007, $10.5 million. Source: Janelle Macri in Business News (5/7/2007).

OYSTER HARVEST CLOSURES

In June, heavy rain forced closure of some 90 per cent of the State’s oyster farms, and as of 11 July, 63 per cent were still closed to harvest. Source: Sunada Creagh in the Sydney Morning Herald (11/7/2007).

FOR SALE - AQUACULTURE FACILITY - SNOWY RIVER

SILVERWATER NATIVE FISH Suppliers of Silver Perch, Murray Cod and Golden Perch fingerlings T: 02 6956 2305 or M: 0427 695 662 E: silverwater@webfront.net.au

Fully equipped native and ornamental aquaculture facility. This 8 acre property has been extensively developed and includes an 1100m2 factory with indoor production areas fully equipped with tanks for ornamental and native fish production (heated room), also a large RAS grow-out system (100kl), which can produce a variety of species. The site also has two houses (currently rented), ten production ponds, reception / shop area, plus much more. Price $380,000 For more information call Denise 03 5155 1201

Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007 63


MARKET PLACE

Prawn Grading Machines and systems for the prawn farming industry. • • • •

AUS S NAP

Tailor made clips for pearlers, oyster and mussel farmers. Call us for your specific needs.

Prawn Grading Machines Prawn Cookers Prawn Washers Single machines as well as complete systems

Prawn grader KM1000

K.M. Fish Machinery A/S Tel: +45 98 86 46 33 Fax: +45 98 86 46 77 Web Page: www.Km-fish.dk

T: 08 9582 3548 F: 08 9582 3579 E: julian@global.net.au M: 0407 470 642

Agent in Australia: Terry Gorman & Associates Tel: (02) 9979 7269 Fax: (02) 9997 4203

GLADSTONE WATER BOARD AND PORT AUTHORITY FISH HATCHERY

AQUACULTURE CONSULTANCY SERVICES Fast Disease Diagnosis & Control • Independent Lab Confidentiality • Microbe & Parasite ID’s • Water Quality & Biofilter Taming • Depuration Monitoring & Control • Disease Risk Assessments •

Contact: Dr Steven Nearhos 446 Enoggera Rd, Alderley QLD 4051 aquacult@baseline.com.au

• Suppliers of barramundi, mullet and mangrove jack fingerlings • Quality, disease-free stock • Large order discounts

Phone (07) 335 66 111 Fax (07) 335 66 833

Baseline

Lord St, Gladstone, Qld

Ph/fax (07) 4972 9548 • Mobile 0418 984 652

OzBugZz © Biofilter Starter 1-2-3 Fast starts can be routine. Pure fresh-cultured OzBugZz© microbes nitrify & denitrify waste in marine & fresh water recirc. & purge systems. Quality + O.Night Del + Tech Support. Dr Steven Nearhos Baseline (07) 335 66 111.

O P T I M A X A Q U AT E C H > R.A.S. Design/construction Biological filtration / mechanical filtration / foam fractionators > acrylic tube aquariums Packages include led lighting, heating and filtration > aquaculture consultancy services Specialising in water quality management/ feed management / fish husbandry Call mark at optimax aquatech on Ph/fax: 08 87681936 mobile: 0427 093632 ‘Optimum water quality for maximum growth’

YABBY TRAPS $4.30 each – in lots of 30 • $4.10 each – in lots of 60 $3.75 each – in lots of 90+ • Orders of 100+ POA All prices ex tax/ex store Melbourne

Ph: 03 9817 3043 Aquaculture Services Australia Pty Ltd 30 Cecil Street, Kew 3101

Rope & Twine – best quality & attractive prices We can supply: Diameters: 4mm to 90mm, TWISTED, BRAIDED and PLAITED ROPE in • POLYETHYLENE, POLYPROPYLENE, POLYESTER and NYLON • 3 STRAND, 8 STRAND, DOUBLE BRAID or CONSTRUCTION • SPECIALS - Christmas tree, Spat, Silver, Mooring and Anchor ropes • All UV treated 23 years experience in aquaculture & fishing industry. We supply only the best. Let us give you a quote.

Phone: 08 9433 6340 64 Austasia Aquaculture | September 2007

• All Hours, All Species, Every Day • Larval Mortality Control • Specialty Vaccines Prepared • Designs for Disease Minimization • Serious Biofilter Microbes • Antibiotic Selection

Fax: 08 9433 5764

FOR SALE 12500lt. Fish tank and bio tower • Tank 5.8 x 2.4 x 0.9 • Sump 1.9 x 2.4 x 0.9 • Tower 1.9 x 2.4 Fish Transporters – Fibreglass • 2 x 2000 lt. • 1 x 1000 lt. Plastic Bio Sump 2.7dia x 1.2 Contact Aquacairns on Tel: 07 40 354 888 Fax: 07 40 354 600 or by email, aquacairns@bigpond.com


Seafood Directions 2007

stakeholders to share in the wide-ranging presentations, exhibitions, trade show demonstrations and social functions that make up the Conference.

Neil Stump Chief Executive - Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council Chairman – Seafood Directions 2007

For further conference details including Sponsorship and Exhibition opportunities: Conference Design Pty Ltd

PO Box 342 Sandy Bay Tasmania 7006

t: + 61 3 6224 3773

f: + 61 3 6224 3774

e: info@cdesign.com.au

w: www.seafooddirections.com

e

2 NOV 31 H O B A RT al ion ood I ndustr y Na t

ren c

T– OC

eaf

nfe

nS

ia

invitation to you and all other seafood industry representatives and

r al

On behalf of the Organising Committee I would like to extend a warm

Aust

industry conference starting on 31 October 2007.

DIRECTIONS

Co

perfect setting for Seafood Directions 2007, the nation’s premier seafood

OD

07 20

Spring in Tasmania at Hobart’s picturesque Victoria Dock provides the

SE A FO

Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart Tasmania Wednesday 31 October – Friday 2 November 2007

Seafood for Tomorrow:

Embracing Change

September 2007  

Austasia Aquaculture Magazine September 2007

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