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Volume 19 No. 6 – December/January 2006

Soft-shell sand crabs' culture debut QAP costs cripple NSW oyster farms Sydney Koi farm nets export awards Market innovation buoys silvers Making money from Vic yabbies Redclaw's hybrid vigour success Prawn farm benefits from fishout Axolotyl hobbyist turns fish breeder


December/January 2006

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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 S Coral Coast Mariculture claws a market for soft-shell

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Sydney Koi farm nets export and show awards

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Entrepreneurship buoys silver perch innovators

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Yabby operation thrives in rural Victoria

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Hybrid vigour success for Pomona Aquaculture‘s redclaw

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Fish out for NSW prawn farm

21

Bay Rock Oysters talks up the virtues of Sydney rocks

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Axolotyl fancier turns hobby into cashflow

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Northern trout hatchery feeds fishers and farmers

37

NEWS

Graphic design Beverly Waldie

NSW oyster growers buckle under QAP costs

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Australasian Aquaculture 2006

46

Printing The Franklin Press 91 Albert Road, Moonah, Tas. 7009

Advances in Penaeus monodon culture

47

Sydney Royal Show Awards for farmed prawns

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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).

TECHNOLOGY

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.

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

Cumminscorp’s revolutionary C-Box and C-Clean

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Tooltech powers amazing oyster growth – Washington State USA

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Arvo-Tec Feeders

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FISHENEWS

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December/January 2006

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FARM PROFILE

Coral Coast Mariculture claws a market for soft-shell During Bribie Island Aquaculture Research Centre’s extensive trials on mud crab culture in the ‘90s, an exasperated researcher from Queensland University approached project director Dr Clive Keenan for help on another crab species. He was finding it very difficult to locate larval blue swimmer crabs from collectors placed in Moreton Bay. “The guy had made crab collectors exactly like they use in the US, put them out in the bay and then combed through them to find the larvae,” Clive recalls. “He couldn’t find many. As that didn’t make sense he decided to do some experiments and asked us to breed up some blue swimmers to get him started.” Ever ready for a tasty little challenge, Clive tried out new mud crab hatchery techniques on the species. “Went through like clockwork,” he continues. In fact, the blue swimmer larvae proved more robust than their mud crab cousins. During those trials, the researcher took samples of the larval megalopa stage. A big surprise awaited. “Funny thing was that when he looked at them for the first time, he was really shocked,” Clive says. “Turned out that his reference book used a spine in the middle of the carapace as the diagnostic feature. And these didn’t have any. “So he re-examined his collectors from Moreton Bay and found thousands of blue swimmer megalopa. They dominated the catch!” Having piqued his interest by the ease of breeding blue swimmers using standard techniques – and knowing from disgruntled prawn farmers that blue swimmers thrived in their ponds – Clive later took good advantage of a lull in experimentation at BIARC. “While I was wrapping up the results of the ACIAR mud crab project, our technicians found themselves with some spare time. To fill the gap between projects we decided to do a quick test of the potential for soft-shell

blue swimmer crabs,” he explains. So the crabs were bred up, placed in a pond and grown out to harvest size. Trapped crabs were placed in a shedding system similar to those used in the USA. The net result: seventy kilos of culinary delicacy, some of which were fed to a delighted crowd at BIARC’s annual Christmas party. A subsequent scientific report to a session of the World Aquaculture Society conference in China received similar acclaim. Clive needed no more encouragement. He became a champion for the soft-shell cause, talking up the opportunity for blue swimmer crab aquaculture at every opportunity inside and outside the Queensland’s DPI&F. Then, six months later, following an invitation to the States to give a talk about

A sand crab next to its recently shed shell.

breeding crabs, fate intervened in spectacular fashion. Phillips Seafood Inc, the producer of $US240m of pasteurised crab meat a year, offered him the job of setting up crab hatcheries in Asia where he had been working on the mud crab project.

Crab shedding systems In the USA a variety of crab shedding systems have been developed. Crab shedding was originally carried out in overboard floats at the end of jetties. Crabs that were almost ready to moult were placed in floating baskets in the water and checked regularly. Today most production is in shore-side tanks, which consist of a series of shallow trays. The most common system pumps high volumes of water through and back out into the river system (‘flow though’ or ‘single pass’ systems). There is little control of water quality possible with such systems.

enough pre-moult crabs to stock the system. The fishery for the blue crab is over the summer months and fresh product supply is limited by the seasonality of the catch.

During the past decade, recirculating technology for soft crab production has been gaining in popularity. These systems have distinct advantages because they give better control over water quality and are easy to check.

In Thailand and Vietnam soft-shell mangrove crabs are produced in pond-based systems. These shedding operations purchase small crabs at low prices. In Thailand, crabs are placed individually in small cages where they are fed and fattened. These small cages move along large racks and they are checked continuously for freshly moulted animals. Mortality using this method is high; however, despite losing a substantial proportion of the stock the farm still manages to make a large profit. In Vietnam, pond fattening of mangrove crabs is used to produce soft-shell crabs.

All of these shedding systems are labour intensive, as they require manual checking at least every couple of hours. Further, the size of the systems depends on the capacity of the operator to fill them by catching

Source: Keenan, C.P. (1999) Soft-shell Crabs - A process or a product? '99 Innovations for Seafood Conference, 21 - 23 April 1999 Gold Coast International Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 3


FARM PROFILE

What is a soft-shell crab? unmarketable if this process has progressed too far. The moulting process occurs more than 20 times during the 3-year lifetime of a crab as it outgrows each hard shell. When the crab is young, moulting occurs every 4 to 7 days, but after maturation occurs every 3 to 6 months.

Soft-shell crabs are produced by harvesting the crab immediately after shedding its hard outer shell while moulting, or growing to a larger size. In order for a crab to grow, the hard shell (exoskeleton) is cast off and the soft, pliant crab which emerges pumps water into its body to expand in size before the new shell hardens. A good quality softshell crab has a velvety feel and the carapace spines do not prick the finger and are soft. If the shell hardens too much prior to harvesting it becomes paper-shelled, the spines are prickly and the crab becomes

The hardening process to the paper-shelled stage in blue-swimmer crabs takes less than 6 hours and after 2 days the shell is fully hard and feeding resumes. Removing the soft-shelled crab from the seawater from where it derives the calcium necessary to harden the shell stops this process. It may also be possible to remove the calcium from seawater to extend the hardening time. Like hard shell blue crabs, soft-shell blue crabs remain alive for well over 24 hours after removal from seawater if they are kept in a cool, moist environment. Source: Keenan, C.P. (1999) Soft-shell Crabs A process or a product? '99 Innovations for Seafood Conference, 21 - 23 April 1999 Gold Coast International Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

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An offer too good to refuse. “They were interested in the aquaculture of hard shell crabs for crabmeat picking,” Clive explains. “We went over to the Phillipines, established a hatchery and were producing crablets in four months … hundreds of thousands of them. “It was unbelievable. You can just do things over there, especially when you’re backed by a big company.” But when it came to growing them out, the available ponds were inter-tidal and very silty. Clive and his team could grow the crabs, just not to the size required. Next stop then was Bali where the water and the ponds were better. Again a hatchery was established and, by the time Clive left the company, a successful hatchery production process had been put in place. Returning to Queensland after a two year absence, he found that no-one had begun to commercialise soft-shell production in the way he had envisaged. Brisbane’s Watermark Seafoods had established a computer-controlled system for feeding wild-caught crabs, detecting the time of moult and automated harvesting. And the business model for the Bowen Aquaculture Centre called for combining barramundi and mud crab production in recirculation systems. But the concept of hatchery-reared blue swimmer crablets and pondgrowout had not caught on. So Clive resumed championing the cause. A business contact encouraged him to write a business plan and look for opportunities to implement it. One of those opportunities led to sunny Burnett Heads near Bundaberg, to a dredge-spoil area managed by the Port Authority. The site looked good – he’s subsequently obtained an aquaculture licence for it – and so too did the job offer from Queensland Sea Scallops. “I told QSS that I was here to develop my own aquaculture business and therefore could be their Project Manager on a part-time basis only,” he says. “Didn’t worry them. They appointed me anyway and I’ve been here for nearly two years.” And the contacts made with QSS have proven vital for the soft-shell ven-


FARM PROFILE

Blue crabs big in the US Soft-shell crabs have been a prized culinary delicacy in the United States for well over 100 years and their production has been reported as the first form of aquaculture in the country (Oesterling 1998). When processed they become tender mouthfuls of whole edible crab that can be cooked in a variety of ways – sauteed, broiled, grilled or deep-fried. Soft-shell crabs are easy to eat, simple to prepare and can be served as appetiser, sandwich or entree. They cook quickly and have a sweet, delicate taste, excellent with a minimum of seasoning. A soft-shell crab is not a different species of crab. The species used to produce soft-shell crab in the USA, the main source of the product, is Callinectes sapidus, commonly known as blue crabs. They belong to the same crab family, Portunidae (swimming crabs), as Australian sand and mangrove crabs. Their morphology and external appearance is very similar to our blue-swimmer or sand crab, Portunus pelagicus. Soft-shell mangrove crabs (genus Scylla) are also produced in Vietnam and Thailand in smaller quantities. In the USA, fresh soft-shell crabs are seasonally available from May to September. More than 80% of soft-shell crabs come from the Chesapeake Bay region. In 1996 about 900 tonnes of soft-shell crab was produced from the 70,000 tonne blue crab fishery. Frozen and extended-life vacuum packaged products are also produced. During a recent visit to China, DPI marketing staff observed US producers offering soft-shell crab at US$40/kg, equivalent to A$60 per kg. Different sizes are marketed with the larger sizes gaining the better prices. Source: Keenan, C.P. (1999) Soft-shell Crabs - A process or a product? '99 Innovations for Seafood Conference, 21 - 23 April 1999 Gold Coast International Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

A pack of four soft shell sand crabs

ture, in particular a familiarity with the rationale and staff of the Sustainable Regions Program. “This region is one of just eight which have access to funding under this Program,” Clive explains. “The reason is high unemployment. GBRMPA (the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) recently cut off access to the most productive local fishing areas so that industry has almost gone down the gurgler. This is also a sugar cane area and everyone knows sugar’s also not doing well.” The climate then is very favourable for businesses with future growth prospects and all levels of government – local, State and Federal – are very supportive of aquaculture in particular. Encouraged to apply for funding under Sustainable Regions and prompted to seek out investors, Clive has done both to great effect. He’s landed both $500,000 in public funding and enough investor funds to begin Stage 1 develop-

ment of Coral Coast Mariculture. The HDPE liners are on order for the first of a total of twelve hectares of fully lined ponds and three hectares of water storage. The company will be the first to rear blue-swimmer crabs in a purpose-designed hatchery and pond system from egg to product. It will close the life-cycle for he species, using pond-reared female crabs for larval production in the hatchery with transfer of juvenile crabs to the ponds for growout. “Fully-lined ponds are so easy to use,” Clive says. “You can hose them out one day and fill them up the next.” Each pond will be 50m x 50m and a typical prawn pond depth of about two metres. Density of the (predatory and cannibalistic) crabs on the bottom will be fairly light during the short culture cycle (3 months). “They thin themselves out until they’re happy,” Clive says. Progressive trapping clears out harvest sized animals until a final drain of the pond. Harvested crabs will be brought inside into a purpose-designed shedding system. Unfortunately blue swimmers do not synchronously-moult: each one works to its own timetable although it is possible by (observation) to predict moult time within a three day window. Staff will need to be sharp because shell hardening post moult takes just a few hours. “The aim will be to keep the shedding system full all the time so we’ll

aim to harvest one pond a week over a six month period,” says Clive. “That’s why we’ve gone for smaller ponds: they’re a bit more manageable.” With the coming wet season to stall pond construction for a few months, Clive now plans to begin stocking ponds with crablets in late August/early September next year with the first harvests appearing by November. Not before time, he reckons. “The research was done over five years ago but putting it together as a business has been a difficult job. It’ll be a huge buzz to see it become reality.” by Tim Walker For more information contact Dr Clive Keenan at Coral Coast Mariculture; Ph 07 4159 5779 or 0402 482 588; Email coral-coast-mariculture@netspace.net.au

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 5


FARM PROFILE

Sydney Koi farm nets export and show awards Over the past 20 years Hans and Dell Boechner have built the Australian Koi Farm into the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Hans is typical of many ornamental fish farmers who began with a passion for keeping fish and managed to build a thriving business from that hobby. The operation now distributes fish Australia wide and overseas.

Sales of Koi are seasonal and during winter farm income is supplemented by production of fibreglass ponds. Photo by Shane Willis

The Australian Koi Farm is located in Bringelly, in Sydney’s west. Although just a 2 hectare block, it is capable of producing large numbers of fish – up to 4 million fingerlings annually. The site also holds on-site accommodation for the owners plus a large retail area complete with large display ponds for the Nishikigoi or Koi (Cyprinus carpio Linnaeus 1758). Hans developed his life-long love of tropical fish keeping and breeding as a child. Despite beginning working life as a builder he found himself breeding more and more fish. In 1982 the inevitable happened; he decided to turn the hobby into a full-time business with the founding of a Koi farm. It began operating commercially in 1984 and has showed good growth and profitability ever since. That success has recently been marked with the winning of the Agri-Business Award for Export Achievements.

The Koi juveniles are grown out in earthen ponds. Bird netting is important for protecting these valuable fish from predation. Photo by Shane Willis

Breeding Koi are an ornamental carp, originating in Persia but with a celebrated Chinese and Japanese pedigree (notably the island of Honshu). With special broodstock originating from pure Japanese Koi, Hans is very committed to improving, conserving and protecting Koi in Australia. His Koi are line bred to ensure that they meet the basic classifications for different Koi varieties. Using an intimate knowledge of these bloodlines, Hans’ premium fish have won more than 1,600 show prizes. “It takes a lot of work and experience to be able to select the right fish to breed and which fish to keep or cull,” he explains. “Our good earth and bore water coupled with a superior diet produces some of the best natural colour you will ever see.” His Koi are spawned naturally as it is easier on fish and the results are generally better. “We find that induced

6 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

spawning will result in a few mortalities whereas natural spawning does not kill fish. As the broodstock are worth thousands of dollars it is not worth it if you are going to loose some of the fish.” Whilst environmental manipulation will allow out of season spawning Hans feels that it is not commercially feasible due to the high cost of heating the hatchery’s large ponds. “Temperature and day-length can be used to get the Koi to spawn anytime during the year. It would be too expensive for us to do this and we are able to produce more fish than we need using natural spawning.” During the spawning season – late September through to January – broodstock are kept in conditioning tanks and selectively bred according to the colourations needed. Spawned fish are removed from the tank and the eggs gently aerated. The heaters are then turned off and tank temperature allowed to drop down to ambient. This


FARM PROFILE

is important for fry transfer to the ponds; if the temperatures are different, mortalities will occur. The eggs hatch after three days and then transferred to earthen ponds for on growing. Hans has 15 of these on his land and the use of another five on an adjoining property, ranging in size from 800,000 to 4,500,000 litres and being up to a metre deep. All are completely netted from predators such as birds and water rats and can be filled or drained as needed. Aeration is via paddle wheels which also produce a gentle water circulation. The ponds are first filled to around 300mm deep before the fry are introduced. The ponds are not fertilised as Hans believes this stimulates the populations of predatory insects (which can cause severe mortalities). Water levels are gradually increased over the next six weeks until they reach their maximum depth of approximately 600mm. Feeding Although Koi are omnivores and will eat most anything, correct nutrition is vital for vibrant and well developed colours. Hans has tried a large range of specialised Koi foods with different formulations available to suit each season. However, he says that these hobbyist feeds are too expensive for a commercial operation and is currently importing a Taiwanese diet made for him on contract. “I was getting a local manufacturer to make food for me but I began to get mortalities when the quality dropped off. I then swapped to some US-manufactured feeds which were great but the falling Australian dollar and rising freight costs put them out of reach. My new supplier can deliver a good quality food that is cost effective and to my specifications.” Hans also offers some advice for other Koi breeders, “Koi should never be fed animal meat containing fats or dairy products. Koi are unable to digest the fats properly and deposits the fat in the gut cavity between the organs. Over time this causes the organs to stop functioning properly and promotes disease and then death.”

The naming of Koi Varieties The tradition of Koi carp keeping and breeding originated from Japan 2-3,000 years ago. The varieties seen today have been selectively bred by the Japanese and the naming convention used for them is based on the Japanese system. The following list provides some insight as to the meaning of the names. Non-Metallic Class 1: Kohaku – White skinned fish, with red pattern. Class 2: Taisho Sanke – White skinned fish with red and black pattern. Class 3: Showa Sanshoku – Black skinned fish with red and white. (rarely yellow and white). Class 4: Bekko – White skinned fish with black blobs, over white, yellow, orange or red ground. Class 5: Utsurimono – Black skinned with triangular patterns in white, yellow, orange or red. Class 6: Asagi – Black skinned with blue back and flame orange belly and points. Class 6: Shusui – Doitsu version of above. Class 7: Koromo – White skinned fish with Kohaku-type red pattern covered with a black or blue net. Class 8: Kawarimono – All the non-metallic fish which do not fit into any of the above and also all the crow line black fish (also called ‘the too-hard basket!’). Metallic Class 9: Class 10: Class 11: Class 12: Class 13:

Ogon – White skinned, one coloured metallic and their Matsubas (pinecone pattern). Hikari Moyomono – White skinned, with two or more colours. Hikari Utsurimono – Black skinned, with two or more colours. Kinginrin – All the fish with Ginrin scales. Tancho – All the fish with one head spot and none of that colour elsewhere.

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 7


FARM PROFILE

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) To allow inter-farm comparisons, each AAM farm profile details a number of key performance indicators for different aquaculture systems. Except for the comments under ‘Key Management Decisions’ which are prepared by Dos O’Sullivan, the information has been supplied by the farmer: • Key Management Decisions for Australian Koi Farm include: – Production in ponds and under natural sunlight to produce natural colours. – Production of ponds and filter systems during ‘off-season’ to maximise cash flows. – 30% sales direct to the public to maximise value of production. – Bird netting essential to protect from bird predation. – High cull rates to produce fish ‘true to form’. – Use of specially manufactured feeds to ensure high protein for very young fish and a high quality diet for larger fish. • Culture System utilised: concrete ponds for hatchery and earthen ponds for grow-out • Growth rate (from stocking to market): 3-4 months • Survival rate: 80% from first stocking to sale size • Av. stocking density: 1,000 fish/m3 of culture unit • Annual harvest: 2 million

Feeding for the fry starts on the first day of stocking with a powdered diet that is 55% protein; this is spread evenly over the pond to elicit feeding of the fry. “The fry do not move much and if you do not get the food to drop in front on the fry’s mouth they will not eat it,” Hans says. By ten days of age, the fry are actively feeding and can be seen swimming around the pond. The high protein diet produces good growth but is expensive so at 2-3 months (30 – 40mm long) Hans swaps to a cheaper, lower protein one. This 36% protein diet is used for the rest of the production cycle. Production The farm uses bore water supplemented with some from the local creek.

Hans closely monitors water quality as it is important for proper development of colour and the health of fish. “The hardness should be moderate to hard and the bore water we have is good. pH is also very important. Black based fish (black skin background) need a slightly acid pH whereas white based fish need a slightly alkaline conditions. Our water has a pH of around 7.5 which seems to work pretty well for both types of fish.” So pH and water hardness are checked 2-3 times a week. Adjustments are made with calcium-based buffers. Besides feeding and water quality monitoring, the other main tasks are culling and grading. To ensure the fish produced are ‘true to type’, sub-quality fish are culled out. The first culling is at around six weeks with subsequent gradings every 1-2 months. “Culling is important to keep the lines pure,” Hans explains. “The first cull is mainly for deformities such as eyes missing, spinal and fin deformities. Subsequent culls are for colour and conformity to a class. For example, if the fish are produced from red and white fish, any fish not showing red and white colours are culled out. Thousands of fish may be examined to find just one highly prized fish. And in any one group, more than 50% of the fish may be culled.” The fish are seine-netted from the ponds and sorted by hand. Culled individuals are often sold as ‘feeder fish’ for the hobby market. Those that remain may be ready to sell at around four months but prized specimens can be kept for 2-3 years until they gain size and their colour is fully developed. Markets Hans sells his fish to several markets. Around 20% of sales are for feeder fish sent direct to hobbyists or to retailers and wholesalers. Another 30 – 40% is for Koi, again sold direct to hobbyists with the balance going to retailers and wholesalers. Such sales are restricted to New South Wales, Western Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory; Koi are a declared noxious species in all other states.

8 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

Formerly, up to 10% of the annual harvest was exported but the jump in fuel prices has killed that trade. “It used to cost around $6/kg for our export markets but that’s now around $12/kg. No one wants to pay $12/kg for water and we are no longer competitive with overseas producers. “The government needs to start looking after Australian businesses to ensure we are more competitive in terms of freight and other market access issues.” The prices for Koi vary considerably from $2.20 to $2,500 depending on the market, age or size of fish and colouration. Aquaculture tourism As Hans really enjoys sharing his passion with customers and hobbyists he has recently begun offering guided tours of the farm. “We never really thought of doing tours but people would come in and look at the fish in the retail area for hours. Some people were content with this but others would want to look at where the fish were bred and how it was done. It was starting to take a lot of time so I have begun charging groups for guided tours,” he says. Located as it is near a major arterial road and other attractions such as wineries, the farm is well set to tap into the Sydney tourist market. “There are not many other places in Australia where people can see show quality fish and we are the largest farm in the southern hemisphere. The only problem is that it does take a lot of time, which conflicts with managing the fish.” Garden ponds and filter systems Hans’ 25 years as a builder well suit him to advise, plan and construct ponds as well. Such skills are on display at not only his farm but also many large scale architectural ponds and water gardens around Sydney. Not surprisingly he has his own line of fibreglass ponds (from 1,500 to 8,500 L) for the home garden. “These are ideal for home ponds; they can be either dug into the ground or left above ground with appropriate garden beds built up around them.”


FARM PROFILE

A mixture of different colour varieties of Koi for sale. These juveniles are around 12 months old. Photo by Shane Willis

To complement this range, Hans has also designed a low maintenance, bio filtration system for garden ponds. The filters have been designed with the aid of computer simulation and offer lowmaintenance biofiltration with a vertical, self-cleaning up-flow system. The filter substrate is imported polyester matting from Japan with the high surface area to void ratio essential for good filter media – it does not breakdown or

The Koi are kept in large concrete ponds for display, this allows customers to view the fish as they will see them in their garden ponds. Photo by Shane Willis

compress over time as other similar substrates do. Hans is unclear as to his future. He is considering retiring and will likely put the business on to the market in the near future. “I have put a lot of work into this business and do not want to walk away but I would like to retire soon. There is still a lot of potential to grow the business but I am looking to take it a bit easier.”

In the meantime Hans intends to continue growing fish for the growing water garden and pond market in Australia. by Shane Willis For more information contact Hans Boehner, Australian Koi Farm, 83 Jersey Road, Bringelly, NSW 2172. Tel: 02 4774-8180, Fax: 02 4774-8767, email: auskoi@bigpond.com.

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December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 9


FARM PROFILE

Entrepreneurship buoys silver perch innovators

David and Marsia stand beside their product and their farm. The ponds are netted to prevent predation. The jetty allows easy observation of the fish. The automatic feeder can also be mounted on the jetty.

Marsia Thompson and son David started fish farming after looking for a use for their Stratford (NSW Central Coast) property’s 50ML of water storage. David explains that their reservoir has an excellent catchment and replenishes itself very quickly. “Water’s never a problem,” he says. “Even in a drought.” The late Tony Rock of Bowman Fish Hatchery had always says the district was good for warmwater fish production and his enthusiasm rubbed off onto some of the Gloucester locals who established the Native Fish Growers’ Co-operative back in the early 90s. “Fisheries were keen to see the industry get going,” Marsia says. “You can’t make a living from cattle on a 33ha property so you have to go more intensive.” The property is on the Avon River, so it was only natural that the enterprise should be called ‘Perched on Avon’! There are four growout ponds, each 0.2ha. All have 2hp of paddlewheel aeration and are bottom draining. Bird control is by low level netting. Pond depth varies from 1.5m to 2m with the ponds holding 2ML.

Nursery system Six nursery tanks vary from 12,000L to 2,500L in size, totalling 30,000L and capable of handling up to 20,000 fish (< 30g) at any one time. Three separate recirculation units control the water quality, allowing a range of production options at the nursery stage. Organic solids in suspension are removed as the water comes up through the upwelling filter, across the filter pad and through the sand filter to the straw filled biofilter, once every hour. 20% of the water is diverted through a foam fractionator and a UV tube. Water temperature is maintained at 19°C by an in-line heater. Sediment goes to the olive grove or irrigation via a settlement pond. Ammonia in the system has never been a problem. Water temperatures rarely fall below 10°C in the winter and rarely go above 30°C in the summer. That said, last winter was a particularly cold one with a lowest recorded temperature was 8°C. Going into winter is a danger period. The area can get an Indian summer in May followed by a rock-cracking frost

10 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

in June which can drop pond temperatures by up to 7°C in a day. ‘Winter-kill syndrome’ is the name given to a possible consequence of such thermal stress. The Thompsons haven’t had a major episode yet but it is something they are very conscious of. One option being examined is to put in a fry pond small enough to economically maintain at a higher temperature during the winter for the smaller, more vulnerable fish. It would also save tying up a production pond to grow fry through the nursery stage. That the fry do better when raised in the ponds is further incentive. Production cycle Fry are purchased in January from Alan Hambly at Kundabung. After quarantine they are over-wintered in the recirc system. Stocking into the ponds occurs as soon as the water warms up – usually late September to early October. These fish are ready the following spring giving them a 20-24 month turn around. David says getting them up to 50g is slow going; once they go out into the ponds their growth takes off. Last season the Thompsons tried something different. After six weeks in the nursery tanks, the 20,000 x 2g fry were graded (March 2005) and the top half (>7g) stocked in a pond. Those fish averaged over 40g in early October against 30g for the top half of those over-wintered in the tanks (the bottom half averaged 15g). All fish were fed the Select Nutrition Starter ration until ready to change over to a pellet diet. David is quick to qualify these results. “We upped the size of the pellet to 3mm in the nursery tanks and we may have left the smaller fish behind at this point. Now that they have been separated and are back on 2mm pellets they are doing a lot better,” he says. Expectations are that the fingerlings


FARM PROFILE

stocked in ponds in early March 2005 will go to market (at 600-700g) by May/June 2006, 3-7 months ahead of the normal schedule and saving the need to manage the fish through another winter. Small holdings Making the most from a small operation is crucial. Ideally it should turn off between 13,000 and 15,000 fish a year at an average 700g. However, this doesn’t always happen. As in any form of farming, losses are inevitable. But those losses are magnified on small farms. As David points out, if you lose 2,000 fingerlings it will leave a gap of 1.5t at harvest time, a gap in the cash flow and irate customers to placate and convince it won’t happen again. The 0.2ha ponds are run at up to two tonnes (10t/ha). David reckons it may be possible to hold up to 12t/ha with careful water quality and stress management. Water quality management For some reason, two of the ponds are quite turbid. David puts urea out in these ponds at 50kg/ha to establish a bloom but says the fish certainly do better in clear ponds. Ponds are limed during the season at 50kg a pond (250kg/ha) to maintain carbonate hardness at 40ppm. pH swings from 6 in the morning to 8 in the afternoon in the clear ponds. The turbid ponds are more stable ranging from 6.5 to 7. Ponds are dried between production cycles and the water is used for irrigation on other parts of the farm. Feed Select Nutrition semi-floating silver perch diets are used throughout the production phase: the 38% protein starter ration and the 33% protein grower pellets. Select’s suggested feeding rates based on temperature are followed. The recommendation is to feed 1.5% of body weight at temperatures of 15°C to 18°C, 2% from 18°C to 24°C and 3% >24°C. The Thompsons have found that if they have the fish feeding going into winter they can maintain a feeding regime through the colder

The up-welling filter and the sand filter keep the water clean. Ammonia has never been a problem at Perch on Avon.

Marsia beside a couple of the nursery tanks that are used to over winter the fingerlings.

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FARM PROFILE

The technology on the farm is simple but effective. The foam fractionator shown here removes proteins from the water.

months ( 1% of body weight every second day). David says although it’s difficult to calculate scientifically accurate FCRs, the ration of food fed to fish harvested suggested a range of 1.6:1 to just under 2:1. The life cycle of the particular pond has an impact on FCR; if the

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pond suffers losses during the cycle the conversion rate is high. The fingerlings over-wintered in the ponds have been a successful experiment. They were fed strongly with Select Starter ration when they were stocked in March, getting 3% of the body weight (BW) daily. Going into the cooler months, 1st May, they averaged 20g. During the depth of winter they were fed a maintenance ration of Select Starter diet at 1% BW twice a week. By 1st August they averaged 34g. A swap to the Select Grower Pellets occurred at this stage and were being fed every second day. By 1st October they averaged 40g and were receiving 2% BW every day. By 1st November they were taking 3% BW and averaged 55g. The industry When the Thompsons joined the Cooperative in 1995 there were eight active members; they were one of the last to join. Now there are only three members left producing fish. “People should be looking at why so many farms are have gone out of the business,” says Marsia. “It’s not just little farms either. Some of them have been quite large. DPI, if they are trying to encourage aquaculture, should be supporting the people who are in it. We are hit with umpteen fees that increase every year. Licenses to farm fish, Safe

12 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

Food, the council, the water board, monthly water testing if we want to process fish, it just goes on and on.” The co-operative was supposed to keep these costs down, but as growers have given up, the domino effect has had the opposite result. This has left the remaining growers with the full burden of the operating costs of the Coop. However, the remaining growers have battled on and, marketing under the trade name of Barrington Perch, are targeting the wide food service industry rather than concentrating on the so called “Asian market.” This strategy has worked for them and they have strong demand through farmers markets and local restaurants for their brand name packaged perch fillets, HOGG fish and smoked fillets. Because of their wide ranging markets, they are able to place all the stock they harvest when they drop a pond; from the 350g to 400g plate size fish to the larger fish that are used for fillets, either smoked or plain. Packets vary in number to suit the restaurants, caterers and domestic buyers. They package two, three, four and six piece parcels. Even the whole fish are packaged to maintain the Co-op’s Barrington Perch brand image. The acceptance of the fish through the farmers’ markets has been very encouraging. “The Co-op is the only group doing farmers’ markets,” says Marsia. “Our smoked product sells really well. We do the Sydney Morning Herald farmers’ market and several regional ones. We could go to a market every weekend if we took up the invitations we get, because the fish is so keenly sought now by the general seafood eating consumers.” The Thompson’s have built a very functional farm and their willingness to streamline their procedures plus their marketing entrepreneurship has seen ‘Perched on Avon’ survive in an extremely competitive market. by John Mosig Marsia and David Thompson can be contacted by phone on (02) 6558 8321, or by email on marsia@bigpond.com


FARM PROFILE

Yabby operation thrives in rural Victoria A trip to the Alternate Farming Field Days at Seymour in the early 90s led to Wayne Robinson and his father Ted (dec) into setting up a yabby enterprise under a Victorian government Multi Water License (MWL). At the time they had been considering multiple use of irrigation water for their property near Rutherglen in one of the country’s major gourmet food and wine regions, a piece of ground that “wasn’t particularly productive crop wise but was fantastic for holding water.” At first Wayne was sceptical. However after eight years of research that took the pair right up into Queensland, they decided to set themselves up. The entire system was overhauled and redeveloped in 2003 and today the operation is managed by Wayne and his wife Kim The Robinsons’ research had found a major reason for failure to be over-capitalization and determined that this wasn’t going to happen to them. One option was to harvest yabbies out of existing infrastructure, such as farm dams and irrigation channels. Initially their licence was set up under the private lands regime but later extended to multi-waters following passage of Victorian legislation in 1999. A self-funded research program ascertaining the production capacity of Goulburn Murray Water’s vast network of channels was also embarked upon. A MWL was taken up in 2000 but it wasn’t until 2002 that the operation really got serious with an upgrading of its holding and purging capacity and establishment of markets.

and bite us once we are in full swing,” he says. “We have contractual arrangements with all the landowners we deal with.” The contracts are standard. Whilst he Robinsons manage and harvest the dams there are provisions in the agreement for farmers to take more of a hands on approach should they wish. From a QA point of view, Wayne insists on overseeing the operation. In some cases, where a property is large, the paperwork for each dam can be onerous and, in at least one case, the Robinsons missed out on some prime yabby country because of that. Wayne says that the contracts are based on the share farming agreements they had for their other farming operations.

feels that having that number of ponds available allows an excellent rotational program. These ponds are gravity-fed water from the main irrigation storage dam and gravity-drained to a single sump dam from which water can be either used directly for irrigation or returned to the 25ML holding dam. The couple also share farm six ponds over 4ha at Benalla. The system there includes concrete sumps and screens with a gravity drainage system to a central sump from which water can be recycled. Computer control Wayne is trialling an agriculture computer program that has been adapted to manage his harvesting program. It

Own ponds The Robinsons also have 10 ponds (5ha total) of their own with most of the yabbies are being produced extensively rather than intensively. Wayne

Right: The re-circulation system is fully automated. Wayne can set the flow to suit the stock load at any given time, and there is an automatic back up generator in the event of a power failure. Below: Wayne with some of the 10 x 1,000L holding tanks.

Grower network Since 2003, Wayne and Kim have signed up a grower network of over 200 dams which, whilst not extensively managed, are a huge saving on capital outlay. Whilst farmers were enthusiastic about the concept, getting them to sign up was not that easy. But, conscious of the legislation, Wayne was meticulous about the paperwork. “We don’t want anything to come around December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 13


FARM PROFILE

has GPS capacity to pinpoint dams as well as full product tracking capabilities. Wayne wants to road test it before he provides any endorsement but says that if it can fit his production model it will be a valuable management tool. Having the satellite positioning capability will also help the Robinsons identify the irrigation channels that they are harvesting as part of their joint research project with Goulburn Murray Water and Fisheries Victoria.

Above and below: The transport tank showing the solar panel that drives the pump circulating the water through the spray system.

Below: Handling is a major cost in yabby farming. Every effort has been made to streamline this process. Shown here is the handling table and the conveyor that brings the prawn crates in from the transporter.

14 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

The Purging Room It’s an established fact that live yabbies bring more money than cooked yabbies so the yabby harvester must keep his stock in a healthy condition. Purging the yabbies also gives them a chance to evacuate their alimentary canals. The purging room currently consists of ten 1,000L tanks – all connected to a 1000L bio-filter filled with 3mm floating plastic balls – and run with automated pumps. This recirculation system has a 40,000L capacity with the shed having the floor space to add a further 30,000L of holding space when required. Currently it will hold a tonne of product. Rainwater is diverted from an expansive roof area into the system which also includes a 0.25ML reed pond from which water is also sourced. A pressurised backup supply is connected to the system and is regulated by float valves. Yabbies are transported in the plastic prawn tray that has been the industry standard since David Burston introduced them at Australian Yabby Farms back in the mid 1980s. They tare off at 1kg – convenient when weighing a stack of five trays – and hold around 5kg when full. When the yabbies are brought in they are given a salt dip of 15ppt for two to three days in the prawn trays before being moved over to the holding tanks. The first two holding tanks are salted at 10ppt. The yabbies, still crated, will spend another two days before being moved over in to the fresh water tanks. Aeration is constant; air stones at the bottom of each tank ensure that the dissolved oxygen (DO) is adequate for the comfort of the yabbies. Wayne feels the


FARM PROFILE

high DO levels help to minimise stress. Water temperature is currently ambient (pending re-installation of heat exchangers). “Whilst there are no major crayfish disease issues in Australia, such as crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci),” Wayne says, “they sometimes carry a lot of ectoparasites, such as Temnocephala and Epistylis. The salt dip takes care of those. It also gives us a chance to grade them. If they don’t clean up enough for the live trade they are sent to a processor who is looking for as many as he can get.” Carp One amusing incident that came out of the research involved Australia’s #1 inland aquatic pest: Cyprinus carpio, the European carp. The conditions of the research permit clearly stated that all by-catch had to be returned to the water. This Wayne and Kim dutifully did. However Wayne felt compelled to submit a report about one line of bycatch that appeared in the nets at one harvest site, about which he had his suspicions. It was a small fish that appeared to be the juvenile stage of a larger fish, and it was there in significant numbers. Whilst still to be formally confirmed, it is believed they were young carp. They have since had their permit conditions amended to deal with the contingency and Fisheries Victoria have extended their support for positively identifying by-catch. Channel harvesting The drought has impacted on the wild harvest from the dams and channels as swell as the growout ponds. Wayne says the catch has been smaller in both size and volume. They have a market for <40g yabbies, which has helped the cash flow from the undertaking. The smaller yabbies can be used as seedstock for other dams or purpose built ponds; however there is a limit to the space available. One thing Wayne noticed from the channels was that flow rate determined the crop. During the drought, when channel flow rates were universally high, shrimp (Macrobrachia sp.) were the predominant catch, the yabbies pre-

Looking down on the tank floor from the bio-filter tower.

ferring the slower flow rates of the wetter seasons. The yield also depended on the shape of the channel. The yabbies preferred slow flowing sections of the channel. It came down to local knowledge and niche harvesting. Wayne says they still had a lot of work to do on managing labour and monitoring yields from the channel harvest to make it cost effective. “For occupational health and safety (OH&S) reasons we have two people on the harvesting team. Knowledge of the area, as well as communication with the authorities managing the resource is critical to the success of the harvest,” he says. “Hopefully the computer program will enable us to co-ordinate the harvest effectively. The same principle applies to the farm dam harvest.”

Feeding Even though their operation takes advantage of the water-holding infrastructure, the Robinsons still manage the productivity of the water. They’d done the conventional thing and fed lupins and other grains until one day a member of their team rolled a bale of silage that had passed its used by date into a dam. The yabbies that came out of the dam were way above the average in size and quantity. One of their other farm enterprises is hay contracting so they have ready access to weather damaged and old hay. As the pair operate a biodynamic farm and use organic fertilizers, there are no chemical residue issues with this hay, leaving the way clear to market the yabbies as organic.

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 15


FARM PROFILE

After trialling several options, bullocks’ liver – bought from the local butcher at a reasonable price – was chosen to bait the traps as it cut the setting time in half . This is cut the liver into strips and frozen;. the frozen strips slide easily into the bait tube. Harvested yabbies are transported (in prawn trays) inside an insulated box that fits onto the tray of a flatbed utility. A solar-driven spray unit keeps the stock moist.

Water is sourced from the Ovens River. The plant room houses a Grundfos stainless steel recirculation pump, Davey exchange/ top-up pump and an air pump along with particulate and sand filters.

Pond yields Naturally yields vary. The smaller 800 - 1000m2 purpose built ponds produce 400-500kg/ha over a production season. They are stocked with juvenile yabbies bred in the hatchery or taken from farm dams and harvested from November to May. Any undersized yabbies are either held for restocking in other ponds or returned to the same pond depending on the management program of the site. The stocking rate is high: 15 - 20/m2 with an expected mortality is up to 40% over the growing period. Ponds stocked in September can be harvested over March, to May. Ponds stocked in February wouldn’t be harvested until December to January. (subject to seasonal variations) The silage added provides a high protein ration and generates an ecosystem on which the yabbies thrive. When feeding lupins, it was added on feed trays at a rate of 2-3kg a day with a judgement made on how quickly the feed was eaten. “I don’t like making decisions without quantative data,” Wayne says “although a lot has been done in the past without it. Conditions vary so much it’s not possible to be prescriptive. As we go along we keep track of what we do and the results. Eventually this will form a pattern over a number of years. This is where the tracking program comes into it. We’ll be able to make an informed decision. And the

pattern will vary regionally too. What they have in the Western Districts will not be the same as what we have in the North East.” Farm Harvest Management for the farm dams is straightforward. These are harvested totally (strip harvested) over a short period during the warmer months. Some dams carry more stock than others. Again we see the importance of the tracking program. The yabbies are graded into market size and undersize. The dams are then re-stocked with juveniles at 15/m2 in preparation for the next season’s harvest. The travel involved, the labour and equipment costs plus the hike in the price of fuel presents a sizeable upfront cost to anyone harvesting farm dams. Wayne’s aim is to fine tune the management to give the maximum economic return without over exploiting the resource. The Robinsons trap off the farm three days a week with at least one of those days spent harvesting their channel allocation. They’ve set themselves a minimum of 60kg a day on these trips and have been able to meet that target. Traps Open top traps – as originally developed for the WA farm dam harvest – are used with the bait tube holding the jaws of the trap apart.

16 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

Marketing The Robinson’s location at Rutherglen provides a ready made market at their doorstep. Contracts are in place with some of the region’s major wineries and restaurants. For anything other than the top line product, a wholesaler is ready to take whatever’s available and there’s a processor keen to snap up any leftovers for meat recovery. On top of that, the Melbourne market is getting ready to supply Aussie tucker to the Commonwealth Games visitors expected at the end of the summer. This influx is expected to overflow to the regional centres as well. Prices range from $8/kg for the bottom grade processing product to $20/kg for the live, white tablecloth product over 120g. The future “Without being silly about it, from what we’ve established so far, there’s a huge future,” says Wayne. “Early in the piece it was established that yabby farming wasn’t like ostriches and emus. From that point of view – and I say this carefully – I can see some of the value in regulations. “But the cost of regulation is a limiting factor on industry growth. It’s been a huge burden for us, just maintaining our license through the drought. However knowing it was only going to cost us more money to re-apply made it more economical to keep it going,” Wayne says. It seems that the Robinsons’ bold decision to persevere is about to pay off. by John Mosig Wayne and Kim Robinson can be contacted on (03) 5726 8263, or by email on rppent@iinet.net.au


FARM PROFILE

Hybrid vigour success for Pomona Aquaculture‘s redclaw David Asher is passionate about aquaculture and has been involved on many levels in the industry. His experience includes teaching, consulting and working with both finfish and crustacean aquaculture species. His main production focus is on hatchery production genetically enhanced redclaw. Juveniles are sold to surrounding farms for stocking and David says they are getting up to 50% better growth than other strains of redclaw.

David Asher holding one of his redclaw broodstock.

Pomona Aquaculture is located inland from Noosa (one and half-hours drive north of Brisbane) in area climatically ideal for growing a range of Australian native finfish and crustacean species. Originally founded eight years ago under the Queensland Department of Primary Industries’ (QDPI) model farm program, the farm helped DPI extension staff promote Best Practice in the fledgling aquaculture industry. A range of model farms allowed the extension officers and researchers to provide technical advice during farm construction and start up on a range of topics. DPI used the farm as a training venue and demonstration farm for other producers or potential new entrants to the industry. Use as a training venue continues. David provides training regularly to students from Queensland TAFE and the Sunshine Coast University. In fact, training and consulting has become an integral part of David’s operation. A qualified trainer, he has worked part-

Juveniles harvested from a pond. These will be size graded and purged before sale to market. Photo by David Asher

time for New South Wales and Queensland TAFE, delivering training in the Seafood Industry Training Package, as well as doing various consulting jobs. The farm is currently licensed to produce barramundi (Lates calcarifer), silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) and redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus). Redclaw, the current focus, is a native species of Queensland and was first domesticated by QPDI in the mid 1980s. David’s production is of seedstock for other growers and juveniles to the trade. “While some of our product is for human consumption, the main thrust of our business is to supply genetically advanced brood stock and juvenile crayfish to the industry.”

towards the middle with the pond having a shallow and deep end to facilitate easy draining of the pond. All are plumbed with both 90mm PVC inlet and 110mm PVC outlet pipes. Water management is a critical aspect to production at Pomona Aquaculture and David takes great pride in producing stock from clean fresh water without the use of pesticides, chemicals or medications. The major supply of water is rainwater (annual rainfall for the area is around 1.5m per year) with Earthen ponds are used for production of redclaw at Pomona Aquaculture. Gently sloping pond walls and bottom assist drainage and allow the ponds to self-clean as they drain. Photo by David Asher.

Water management Redclaw are farmed in purpose-built, clay-lined ponds. Pomona Aquaculture has 8 x 800m2 growout ponds and 4 x 300m2 of specialised breeding and juvenile rearing ponds. Pond floors slope December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 17


FARM PROFILE

Redclaw as an ornamental species Redclaw crayfish are also an excellent species for display in an aquarium and are sold in Australia in the ornamental fish industry. David attributes this to both their bold colours and their behaviour. “The way that redclaw interact with each other and the way that they seem to enjoy modifying their environment by shifting objects around the aquarium make them an interesting and exciting pet.” It is relatively simple to keep them in an aquarium. Redclaw like clean well aerated water and a gravel base in the tank. The gravel gives them somewhere to dig and a large piece of drift wood or some short lengths of plastic pipe will provide a place for them to hide or sleep. When introducing your crayfish to a new aquarium it is often a good idea to keep the water temperate low (possibly 15 to 18 degrees Celsius) this well help to reduce stress on your pet. There is also a growing interest in colour morphs of redclaw and indeed other species of freshwater crayfish. A particularly attractive colour morph is the Electric Blues, which are coloured a brilliant dark blue colour. Pomona Aquaculture can supply wholesale quantities of redclaw to pet shops and aquarium suppliers.

runoff stored in reservoirs. Re-use also minimises the amount of water required with effluent water directed to a large reservoir where the water for holding while natural bacteria break down the organic wastes. The water is then recycled for further use on the farm. David points out that this closed cycle for water use has a number of advantages. “It allows us to comply with license conditions regarding no

discharge of wastewater. The farm makes very efficient use of its water resources – the only water that has to be added is to cover water lost to evaporation. It ensures that we don't import onto the farm contaminates such as pesticides or pathogens. This is very important from both a food safety and an animal health point of view. Finally, it is an environmentally sustainable farming technique which will allow

18 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

sustainable production to continue without impacting on other stakeholders in the area.” As maintaining good water is so essential, its quality is monitored twice weekly. The pH is maintained between 7.5 and 8.5 with hardness in the range 80-100ppm. Water temperature generally varies 25-35°C in the nine-month breeding season; winter temperatures fall to 1419°C. While breeding in winter is limited, David gets growth virtually all year round. “The local climate is ideal here; we do not get extremes of temperature.” The ponds are aerated round the clock by air-lifts. The air lifts vary in length to match the deepening pond with air is injected 550mm below the pond surface. As well as adding oxygen the airlifts also facilitate water movement, prevent stratification and move organics towards the deep end of the pond (for easy removal). David says: “The airlifts are great for aeration and only cost around $3 per hectare per day to operate. They have been set up to move solids towards the deep end. The outlets draw from the lowest point and


FARM PROFILE

any addition of water to the pond has the effect of flushing the organics and solids from the system, making the ponds virtually self-cleaning.” To ensure a high rate of survival, habitat must be provided for the crayfish with a general rule of thumb being that if you double the amount of habitat you can increase the stocking density by 30%. David uses two main types of habitat for his redclaw – sections of PVC drain coil stacked up and tied together with stainless steel wire and clumps of prawn netting. Predation by birds is reduced by bird netting over the ponds. Other predators such as eels and rats are excluded through the use of high density polyethylene predator fencing (the same material used to line tailings dams on mine sites). The predator fence is also a requirement by Queensland DPI as it prevents the redclaw from escaping and establishing feral populations in areas where it does not naturally occur. The ponds are completely drained during harvesting and are then allowed to dry out. Once dry they are prepared with light tilling and the addition of agricultural lime and dolomite (1,000kg/ha and 2,000kg/ha pa respectively) to maintain sufficient levels of calcium for production of exoskeleton by the redclaw. The pH change associated with the addition of the lime also kills many of the micro-organisms including the disease and pest species that usually thrive in the mud at the bottom of the ponds. Selective breeding Selective breeding work originally begun by QDPI several years ago has been continued by David and is now important to the ongoing success of Pomona Aquaculture. By applying simple breeding techniques similar to those used in the live stock industry, the QDPI researchers were able to achieve increased growth rates of almost 10% per generation for crayfish from the Flinders and Gilbert rivers. These strains were selected based on comparative growth rates for redclaw from a number of river systems. This process was continued through

a number of generations. The two strains were then crossed to create a FlindersGilbert hybrid that grows 50% faster growing than the original river strains; it is now widely used in aquaculture due to that growth performance. When the program was discontinued by the DPI, David established his own program so with rigorous genetic selection Pomona Aquaculture has a robust and hardy, fast growing crayfish. David now supplies this hybrid strain in wholesale quantities to growers interested in improving their farm stock lines, both in Australia and around the world (including UK, USA, China and Israel). Only the best and fastest growing animals are used for breeding and stocked in the breeding pond at a ratio of four females to every male (redclaw sex is easily determined by appearance, with males having large claws with a distinctive red patch while females have narrower claws with no red patch). As long as water temperatures exceed 23°C, the breeding ponds are harvested every six weeks. During harvesting, berried females are selected out and stocked into a separate pond with the remaining stock restocked to the breeding pond for a repeat of the cycle. Redclaw will also readily breed in tanks with recirculation systems. David uses these from time to time to allow a cross between specific adults and for out of season production. Out of season spawning is induced through environmental manipulation by gradually increasing temperature to 23°C and photoperiod to 14 hours of light. Broodstock are usually retired (sold off) every 18 months to two years. Production Time elapsed from time of egg production to hatching is about six weeks. Unlike many crustaceans redclaw have no larval stage and hatch as a fully formed crayfish. Juveniles are grown out in their own pond for a period of three months until harvesting as an advanced juvenile of five grams. The yield is 60- 100 juveniles per female. After harvest the advanced juveniles are stocked out into a growout pond or

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) To allow inter-farm comparisons, each AAM farm profile details a number of key performance indicators for different aquaculture systems. Except for the comments under ‘Key Management Decisions’ which are prepared by Dos O’Sullivan, the information has been supplied by the farmer: • Key Management Decisions for Pomona Aquaculture include: – Farm originally set up as a demonstration farm with a high level; of input and advice from QDPI extension officers and researchers. – Production and sale of genetically enhanced juveniles to increase cash flow. – Farm used as training venue for Qld. – Improvements made to mechanisation, including air lifts, flow trap harvester and automatic grader. – Training and consultancy services used to increase income stream. • Culture System utilised: 800m2 and 300m2 earthen ponds. • Growth rate from stocking to market: 3 to 4 months to grow to 30 - 50 grams, 6 to 7 months to grow to 50 - 70 grams. • Survival rate: 70% from first stocking to sale size. • Av. stocking density: 200 - 400 kg/ha. • Annual harvest: total 2,600 kg sold off farm last financial year. • Production rate: equivalent to 3,250 kg/ha. • Water use: 4,000 L/kg produced per year (make-up for water lost to evaporation). • Power use: $0.41/kg produced per year • Productivity: 2.5 tonnes per 0.5 Effective Fulltime Unit • Production cost: roughly $2.50 per kg excluding capital costs and labour.

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December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 19


FARM PROFILE

Above: The ponds are harvested by flow-traps which use the redclaw’s habit of walking upstream or against a current. Water flows down the ramp which encourages the redclaw to walk up it, when they reach the top they fall into the trap box for easy collection. Photo by David Asher Left: Habitat is used to increase the surface area and hiding spots for crayfish. Ag pipe towers and prawn netting are commonly used substrates and can substantially increase stocking rates of ponds. Photo by David Asher

sold on to other growers. Grow out usually 3-12 months depending on desired size of animal and climatic conditions. A 30-50g redclaw generally take 3-4 months; larger 50-70 g take up to six months to grow post stocking. QDPI research has suggested growth decreases with just the one food type. So David generally feeds his redclaw three times per week using two commercial brands – marron pellets from Ridley and redclaw pellets manufactured by Landmark at Gympie – at a feeding rate of around 1.5% of body weight per feed. David suggests that redclaw may get bored with only the one food offering. “Using different types of feed also helps to ensure a more balanced diet for the crayfish.” And he supplements one feed per week with attractants. “I use a combination of aniseed oil and tuna oil which

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is coated onto the food before it is fed. While there is no hard data to confirm it, feed uptake is higher and the growth rates appear to be better which would suggest that the crayfish are eating better. I am hoping to test this soon with some experimental trials,” he says. Marketing Harvest and post harvest procedures at Pomona Aquaculture are all designed to reduce handling to minimise stress; an added bonus is reduced labour. David harvests all his ponds via a flow trap in the cool of the early morning. Redclaw have a very strong instinct to walk against a water current and the flow trap takes advantage of this instinct, with freshwater directed into the capture box which then overflows down the ramp. The crayfish detect this flow of fresh water and walk up the ramp into the capture box. Stock are taken to the post harvest facility where they are put through a mechanical grader. This consists of a number of stacking trays with the hole size decreasing from top to bottom. The whole assembly is submerged in a tank with clean well aerated water supplied via a pump and biological filter. The grader was originally designed by QDPI but has been modified and fine tuned to greatly improve performance. Once graded the animals are purged for a minimum of 24 hours in a pur-

20 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

pose-built facility comprising four 2,500L poly tanks connected into a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). Most of the redclaw are sold live, shipped out of water in a cool and moist environment. When properly packed and handled, redclaw can travel for up to 48 hours enabling live transport to virtually anywhere in the world. Packing is not complicated: crayfish are stacked into polystyrene boxes. Layers of 10mm sponge foam or plastic shelves may be used to space out and protect the crayfish during transport with gel packs added to help maintain cool temperatures. “This is important,” David says. “For longer transit times I even chill the redclaw to 14-15°C before packing to ensure a good travelling temperature is established.” More than 70% of David’s product is being exported live and considerable effort has gone into development of his packaging methods and materials. The export market is proving lucrative for David. He’s achieving in excess of $50.00 per kg for some product lines. by Shane Willis with Dos O’Sullivan For more information contact David and Lisa Asher, Pomona Aquaculture PO Box 169, Pomona, Queensland, 4568. Tel: (07) 5485 0024, Fax: (07) 5485 0104 email: pomonaqua@spiderweb.com.au web: www.pomonaqua.spiderweb.com.au


FARM PROFILE

Fishout for NSW prawn farm Cool winter water temperatures means that prawn culture in northern NSW and southern Queensland is limited to once crop per year. One farm, the Ballina Fishing Park has diversified into a fishout operation which makes them financially viable all year round. Noel Porter has been farming black tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon) since 1985. His farm at Ballina (NSW) is located around two hours, by road, south of Brisbane, and some eight hours north of Sydney. Noel’s five 1ha ponds are each up to 2.2m deep with a wall slope of around 1 in 5. All ponds have series of ‘windrows’ along their bottom – 0.5-1m high earthen banks running lengthways along the pond. The temperature difference between the shallower and deeper water sections means that the prawns have choices on where they want to be. Water is pumped (up to 1.5 megalitres/hour) from the North Creek, part of the Richmond River catchment. “We pump when the water quality is good,” says Noel, “usually on the top of the tide. The salinity of the inlet is usually okay (range from 33 ppt to 36 ppt). We have a screen (3mm mesh) before the water is pumped into a raceway system for distribution to the ponds. The plastic raceways are about 1.5m above the ponds, so the water drains in through a venturi system to aerate the ponds.” The ponds also have 1.5m wide, concrete drain monks. “These are large enough to let out as much water as is pumped in. We also have three 2HP (1.5 kW) paddle wheels (4 paddles on each) in each pond.” Noel purchases his PLs from Murray and Serena Zipf’s Rocky Point Prawn Hatchery in Southern Queensland. “We stock around mid September and will harvest between mid February right up into May (depending on water temperatures). We average around 16/20 grade (number of prawns per pond) which isn’t too bad for the 4-7 months grow-out time. With all five ponds in production we’re doing around 24 to 26 tonnes per year.” The quality of the harvested prawns must be high. Ballina Fishing Park won

Hal Stackhouse, visitor from the UK caught a 2kg Jew Fish.

Ballina Fishing Park Entrance.

a silver medal in the Fine Food Awards at the 2005 Royal Easter Show, Sydney. “We’re very happy about the win but I don’t think we’ll ever manage to get up to Gold Medal as the judging is in February, making it difficult for us to get prawns large enough to sample. If it was later in the season it would be better for us southern prawn producers.” As they are harvested, the live prawns

go straight into the cooker, are cooked for three minutes and then transferred to a cooling tank using potable water for around five minutes. From there they move via an ice slurry to a sorting tray, are hand graded into sizes and packed in ice in 15kg foam boxes ready for transport to the Sydney Fish Market and various wholesalers. The total time from harvest to packing is just 30 minutes or so.

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 21


FARM PROFILE

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Noel Porter, holding some succulent cooked Black Tiger Prawns.

To allow inter-farm comparisons, each AAM farm profile details a number of key performance indicators for different aquaculture systems. Except for the comments under ‘Key Management Decisions’ which are prepared by Dos, the information has been supplied by the farmer: • Key Management Decisions include: – Stock when water temperatures are rising – Trap harvest to ensure the prawns are not damaged – Move to fishout operations to assist in cash flow • Culture System utilised: 1ha, earthen ponds. • Growth rate (from stocking to market): <7 months (growth from 0.1g to X25g) • Survival rate: 75% from first stocking to sale size • Av. stocking density: 42 kg/m3 or per culture unit • Annual harvest: 24 tonnes previously, now down to 10-15 tonnes • Production rate: not known • Water use: not recorded • Power use: $1.00 per kg produced per year at 8.5¢ per kW for 24 tonnes prawns • FCR: 1.3-1.5 (number of kg of food to produce 1kg stock) • Productivity: not recorded • Production cost: $9.50/kg • Farm gate price: $18.00/kg

Fish Out Pond Given the constraint of one crop per year for his prawns, Noel has redeveloped the pond at the front of the farm for a fishout to provide year-round cashflow. “We have landscaped the fishout pond, put in a BBQ area, elevated kiosk, umbrellas, tables, chairs, and a pavilion. This makes it more attrac-

tive for the anglers and we have plans to increase the number of activities that can be undertaken.” Noel has obviously thought long and hard about what he can do to encourage fish survival and growth. “We put 10 truck loads (approximately 60m3) of black quarry rock in the bottom of the pond. This acts as an artificial reef and a shelter

22 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

for the smaller fish. This pond has also been provided with a 60m long wooden jetty (2.5m wide) which runs down its length. This can accommodate around 40 people. Another jetty on the opposite side will add space for another 30 people. This is planned for later this year.” The paddle wheels are located well away from the fishing area so that fishing


FARM PROFILE

lines and tackle will not get tangled up. The fishout pond has been in operation for two years, its water level maintained to encourage the fish growth. No benthic plant growth is visible mainly because there are several species of vegetarian fish – such as river black fish and mullet – in the ponds. The stock for their pond came from two sources (Table 1), either from eggs and larvae caught in the inlet water (and larger fish from other ponds) or from fry or larger animals purchased from commercial hatcheries. “We buy fry from Glen Searle at Yamba as well as Keith Web from Yamba who has sold us some large (2.5 kg) jewfish (mulloway) in late 2004. We were the first people to grow snapper and jewfish in ponds. We found that the snapper grew okay even in salinities down to 8ppt. Since then we have also been stocking yellowfin bream, sand whiting, dusky flathead, snapper and many others.” The farm has also been able to utilise fish that would normally die in the prawn pond harvests. Ecosystem The pond has its own ecosystem with the small and large fish, crustaceans, live-feeds (zooplankton) and algae. “We have even found cunjevoi (a type of sponge) growing on our paddle wheels. There are also blue swimmer crabs, pippies (small clams) and all sorts of worms. Just about anything that is in the river gets into our pond.” The larger jewfish have been reared with formulated pellets at the Yamba

Group fishing off the wharf with BBQ & Kiosk facilities in background. The farm prides itself on access for all people.

farm. This sometimes means that the fish don’t learn to catch live prey for a few months so Noel puts around 10 kg of pellets per day for them. Any pellets not eaten by the jewfish would be soon taken by the other aquatic life. However, no other feeds are provided, other than what develops in the pond. In sympathy with this philosophy of allowing development of a more natural ‘ecosystem’ in the pond, Noel allows a few shags to have an occasional feed. “They usually only take the small king or school prawns, and some bait fish. You can take a torch out at night and see lots of prawns and fish in the shallow. We throw out a cast net and catch

types of fish which we didn’t even know were in our pond.” However he adds that a close eye needs to be kept on the numbers of fish in the pond. “We have around 800 to 1,000 jewfish in there at present, and we’ve stocked another 20,000 fry

Table 1: Species in the fish out Name

Scientific Name

Source

Capture size max (kg)

River Black fish

Girella tricuspidata

Water inlet

Dusky flathead

Platycephalus fuscus

Hatchery

Mulloway/Jewfish

Argyrosomus hololepidotus

Hatchery/farm

Snapper

Pagrus auratus

Hatchery

2 kg

Silver bream

Rhabdosargus sarba

Hatchery

1.5kg

Yellowfin bream

Acanthopagrus australis

Hatchery

1.5kg

Mud crab

Scylla serrata

Water inlet

3kg

Sand whiting

Sillago ciliata

Water inlet

1kg

Sea mullet

Mugil cephalus

Water inlet

2.5kg

Not known 4kg 6.8kg

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 23


FARM PROFILE

Ponds with a paddle wheel aerator.

which were around 75g to 100g each into another pond to grow out.” Growth rates of some of the fish have been impressive. “We stocked 2.5kg jewfish last October and last week (late May) a 6.7kg one was caught. It had more than doubled their weight in less than 7 months.” The fishout is open from 6am till 9pm every day including Good Friday

and Christmas Day. “We get enquiries from all over Australia and overseas about the fishing at our farm,” Noel says. “We get schools, business groups, birthdays as well as tourists. “We supply all fishing tackle and only use top quality Daiwa gear. For any person who is unfamiliar with fishing, we gladly provide educational fishing. Various types of fishing are avail-

24 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

able includeing fly fishing, bottom fishing and float fishing. “Families with children are most welcome. Entry to the park is free and the fishing charges only for the rods hired. Any number of people can use the one rod. Our system is either catch and release or purchase your fish at $12 a kilo.” “Some people bring their own eskies for taking the fish home, so we just supply them with some ice if they need it. For other we do it just like in a fish shop – they are put in a clean plastic bag and then wrapped in paper.” More fishout ponds planned Noel says he has plans to just run two of the ponds for the next prawn season (2005/06) and use the other three for the fishout. He is looking for further investment to expand, especially into his retail operations. “We want to give visitors more to do than just fish. We’re planning a 200 seat restaurant and an oyster bar.” by Dos O’Sullivan For more information contact Noel Porter, Ballina Fishing Park, 218 North Creek Rd, Ballina NSW 2478. Tel: 02 6686-8149, Fax: 02 6686-8149.


FARM PROFILE

Elyse Thors (granddaughter) looking at one of the oyster trays used by Bay Rock Oysters.

Bay Rock Oysters talks up the virtues of Sydney rocks Running a large trucking company is a sure recipe for stress. So in 1993 Audrey Thors opted for a sea-change, heading for beautiful Batemans Bay, just 4 hours drive south of Sydney. There, on the clear, clean waters of the Clyde River, she decided to farm Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea commercialis). Of which she’s a big fan. “The Sydney rock industry is over 100 years old and we have a native oyster with a unique taste and flavour that needs protection and promotion. Compare that to the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) which is new to Australia but it can be cultured almost anywhere in the world; it is found in markets in many countries.” No surprise then, Audrey says, that

many connoisseurs of seafood prefer the Sydney rock. “I am currently supplying 90 chefs in Sydney and only three buy the Pacific oyster. The Sydney rock is premium in taste, flavour and shelf life. That’s why growers need to promote it as very special. They need to be able to sell oysters for the real cost of what it costs to produce it. I believe that would be around $1 for each oyster (plate size), no less!” Pristine River Audrey has 22.5ha of pristine water on the Clyde. Of the 18 leases, most are intertidal (although there 1.5ha of subtidal leases) and up to 7m in depth, each with fast running water. “The

Clyde has two tides a day, so many of the intertidal leases are completely dry at times,” Audrey continues. “However, some floating baskets and trays are always in deep water.” When she started, Audrey knew her focus had to be on producing a better oyster. “I changed from sticks to trays using single seed and buy all our seed from the hatchery run by the Select Oyster Company. It uses a superior oyster, the result of more than 20 years of selective breeding from the strongest, fastest growers. Soon we hope to have QX resistant oysters. “I believe that farmers need to support this research as it is our future. And the results are there, the growth

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 25


FARM PROFILE

Elyse, Geoff Diemar and visitor with the new upwelling nursery system.

rates of these oysters is much better than those sourced from the wild (settled on sticks). Seed purchased from the hatchery are placed into onland upwellers. “In the past we brought seed that sat on a 375µm or a 500µm screen; normally around one million in October and another million in January of each year.

This year we got seed that sat on a 1,000µm screen because the water temperatures in the Clyde aren’t as high as they are in other growing areas. The slower growth of the smaller ones can be an issue; the larger seed can take more feed and handle more water flow and show less mortality in the upwellers. Also the smaller screen

Fish Project Manager We are seeking the appropriate person to lead our fish line of business, as part of our US$100 million aquaculture project. The total project covers some 102 km2 and incorporates hatcheries, grow-out ponds, processing facilities, a feed mill, power plant and township. With Phase1 almost complete we require a dedicated, high caliber individual to drive the development and growth of our fish business.

mesh fouls with algae very quickly which inhibits the flow.” The six upwellers are made of fibreglass abalone tanks – each 2m long by 1.5m wide by 0.5m deep – that Audrey modified. “They work pretty well with continuously pumped (raw) seawater providing food for the seed. We need to wash and grade them regularly, using round plastic screens (25cm diameter by 20cm deep). This too we needed to make up by gluing microscreen mesh onto the bottom of PVC pipes. “I have (Port Stephens farmer) Geoff Diemar to thank for this system. He kindly taught me everything I know and I follow his work practices closely. We have mesh on them ranging from 500um, 750um and 1,000um and then we grade through a 1,200um screen before the oysters go into the river.” Audrey says that the growth rates of the seed are related to the water temperatures and phytoplankton counts following rainfall. “If there is no rain, it is slower. Usually most seed are able to be transferred to the growout systems after 6-8 weeks. In the summer months the oysters in the upwellers need to be handled (shaken and graded) twice a day; in winter it is every week. You get the best results if you keep thinning and grading the oysters in each screen. Some of the excellent promotional materials used by Bay Rock Oysters.

Our business currently produces 10,000 tonnes of shrimp annually and we are now diversifying into fish production, expecting to produce 3,000 tonnes of marine fish within 2 years. The manager we seek will be a keen motivator, leading from the front in a hands on environment and someone who enjoys working in a challenging environment on large projects. Additionally you will possess the following skills and experience: • 10 years experience, in marine or estuarine fish aquaculture; • Hands-on experience in management of hatcheries, pond culture and cage culture; • Experience with more than one marine/estuarine species; • The ability to lead and motivate a multinational team in both technical and relationship terms; • Be practical and outcome focused. National Prawn Company is a Saudi owned company with a multinational management team. We offer solid employment conditions and attractive remuneration to the right candidate. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for an experienced manager to gain significant international experience in a major multidisciplinary project. For further information contact: hrd@robian.com.sa and visit www.robian.com.sa

26 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

The Sydney Rock Oyster – plump, fresh, tasty, just perfect.


FARM PROFILE

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Mists rise from the Clyde River at the start of just another day in the office for Audrey Thors.

This means better water flow and that means more food. “You have to remember that the rock oyster is very selective. Maybe it will eat 40 out of 100 food species in the water. The Pacific oyster is not so selective and will eat the lot. That is why we don’t grow the two species together in the same river system; the rock (oysters) would starve.” Wooden and Plastic Trays Geoff Diemar’s advice is also evident in Audrey’s tray design for the intertidal racks. “Each tray has 3 compartments with a lid that is screwed down with stainless steel screws so that they are totally sealed (reducing losses from oysters being washed out). They are 60cm wide by 1.8m long and 8cm deep and are made from 3cm x 4cm hardwood with plastic mesh.” Audrey says that the secret to good production is regularly getting the trays in off the racks to thin the oysters out. “As soon as the density gets a bit high you bring them ashore and thin them out onto bigger screens. We start with 3mm, then 6mm, 8mm, 12mm and 17mm and can finish them on 20 or 22 mm mesh. The larger mesh allows more water flow, again that equals more food and growth.” Drought and higher stocking densities have meant, Audrey says, less plate oysters from the Clyde. “For example, I put 100 trays of bottles (30g) out in spring of which only ten trays will grow to plate size (55g) by Christmas. This means I have to keep them there longer; the rest will be small plate (50g) or bistros (45g). “Hopefully this year we will get more rain (to bring more food into the river system).” Another management priority is watching for overcatch of oysters. “This can cost an extra $100,000 in culling

every year if not managed. We combat it by drying all the trays down the river after a spawning (February) when the overcatch is (still) small. We keep monitoring and drying which means bringing the trays into the shed and drying them out for 5-7 days. “The (larger) Sydney rock oysters can live out of water for 21 days if robust. Since the drought I only do them for a maximum of ten days.” After a year in nursery trays, the oysters are transferred onto subtidal rafts for another 1-2 years – depending on the season and overall growth. Subtidal culture is undertaken in what Audrey calls ‘pods’. “These are sets of eight Tooltech trays submerged under the rafts on ropes. There are usually 24 pods per (10m x 5m) raft.” To make the raft, wooden beams (20cm x 4cm) are bolted together to form the frame. Twenty-four 250L plastic ex-food drums are then ‘lashed’ onto that frame with 7cm-wide plastic seatbelt webbing. “The only problems with the drums are they are not UV-treated so they need to be replaced every 3-4 years,” Audrey says. Being underwater, the pods on the rafts are protected from the overcatch. Instead they’re fouled by species such as cunjevoi (sponges) and barnacles. So, every six weeks, the pods are taken to the shed for thinning, grading and drying – to burn off the fouling organisms and reduce mud worm infestations. “Other than that the only problem is predation from stingrays, fish or birds,” Audrey continues. “To combat these we have plastic covers over the pods and the intertidal trays.” Following the sub-tidal phase, the oysters are fattened and hardened in intertidal trays for the final 12 months. “This gives a total of 3-4 years to get the oyster seed at 1mm to 7cm, which is our plate size,” Audrey explains. “The

To allow inter-farm comparisons, each AAM farm profile details a number of key performance indicators for different aquaculture systems. Except for the comments under ‘Key Management Decisions’ which are prepared by Dos, the information has been supplied by the farmer: • Key Management Decisions for Bay Rock Oysters include: – Focus on the Sydney rock oyster’s premium market appeal – Move into the export of this unique product – Switch to hatchery produced single seed in trays – Stock selectively bred faster growing oysters (which grow to 99% pat size in 3 years) plus with disease resistance to QX and Winter Mortality – Mixture of inter-tidal and subtidal culture methods – Push for industry to work with government to protect the species against the cheaper Pacific oyster • Culture System utilised: trays, racks, fences and longlines. • Growth rate (from stocking to market): <4 years (0.5g to 55g) • Survival rate: 75-80% from first stocking to sale size (on a bad year with winter mortality the rate could be down to 20-30% survival only) • Annual harvest: not specified, need a minimum of 1,000 bags to develop and maintain a market, a bag holds between 90 and 120 dozen oysters depending on their grades • Productivity: can not yet be determined to continual improvement of culture systems • Production cost: $4.50/dozen

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December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 27


FARM PROFILE

Elyse Thors (Audrey’s granddaughter) on new oyster grading machine.

average oyster we sell is a plate as most of our chefs want this size, although we have a market also for the runts that don’t grow.” She is also experimenting with longlines of floating baskets (over 20mm mesh) to give the oysters an opportunity to feed continuously in the top layers of the water. “I want to see if I can fatten them 52 weeks a year. Five tonne concrete blocks at each end hold the 100m longline in place and I have floats to keep the line near the surface. The oysters in these trays need to be flipped (turned) every 2 weeks to stop fouling Some of the intertidal growing areas.

The traditional stick and rack method doesn’t produce oysters with good shell shape

and improve their growth.” Audrey says that oyster farmers are desperate for rain to bring more food into the rivers. “ Any scientist will tell you if there is a drought on the land there is a drought in the sea.” That’s why she reckons (NSW Primary Industries Minister) Ian MacDonald needs to look at government subsidies to aquaculture during droughts. “We rely solely on the organic natural food in our water system.” Premium Oyster Audrey’s single seed oysters are a superior shape to those from traditional stick culture and are also growing slightly quicker. Just as well as she likes to market oysters of at least 6cm (above 50g), larger than the majority of the industry. Nevertheless, growing times have blown out. “Twenty years ago 99% of a 3-year crop would be big plate (size), not the 10-20% we are currently achieving. They did not have a bistro or a bottle oyster which was why the industry (back then) was so profitable.” She believes the big problem is that Sydney rocks have been marketed alongside Pacifics for many years. “The Pacific is produced in mass quantities from single seed in just 18 months with modern, mechanised techniques. How can we compete with that when we are using 18th Century technology and it

28 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

takes 3 to 4.5 years to get them to plate size?” In her view, the Sydney rock oyster industry is at a cross-roads. “Growers who stay with the old techniques will struggle. Farms gearing up with modern technology and methods are the ones expanding and getting the sale price up to compensate for the longer, more complicated production cycle.” The State Government also has a vital role Audrey says with support mechanisms and strategies such as: • drought subsidiaries; • exit plans for farmers who can’t make a living but cannot sell their leases; • a reduction in the amount of leases in a river to stop overstocking;, • fuel subsidiaries for unleaded petrol; • more science to work out how to feed the oysters in drought conditions, and • punishing of councils who are not controlling what ends up in the waterways. And she’s particularly upset about having to pay for the river testing to get their Safe Food NSW certification so their oysters can be harvested for sale. Confidence in future Despite these problems, Audrey is pretty upbeat about where her business is heading. “With our modern methods we now have more control over how we grow out oysters and the end result is a faster growing oyster with a better shape. “It is still the Sydney rock with its superior flavour and distinct texture. Our challenge is to convince the customer that it is not just another oyster, but an indigenous product that is unique to NSW that needs to be eaten live rather than cooked (eg. Kilpatrick or mornay). “The Sydney rock is not a common oyster. It should be treated and consumed like the truffle.” by Dos O’Sullivan For more information contact Audrey Thors, Bay Rock Oysters Pty Ltd, PO Box 599, Batemans Bay NSW 2536. Tel: 02 4472-9090, Fax: 02 4472-9017, email: brobatemansbay@bigpond.com


FARM PROFILE

Axolotyl fancier turns hobby into cashflow

Axolotyls – or Mexican Walking Fish – are a most curious species. An amphibian that’s somehow regressed, taken a backward step in evolution. So instead of undergoing a metomorphosis from larvae to adult – as in, for example, from a tadpole to adult frog – it remains stuck in the larval stage all its life. In fact, it’s a salamander that never (except under rare circumstances) walks on land. Axolotyls retain their fluffy gills (despite possessing rudimentary lungs) and fins, grow larger than a normal larval salamander and remain in the water. They’re also very robust. If a ‘leg’ falls off, it grows back completely. In the laboratory, scientists love them ‘cos you can dice and splice embryos with other axolotyl embryos with a high degree of success. Just as well they’re so successful in captivity, as their native home – Mexico’s high altitude lakes Xochimilco and Chalco – have taken a beating. Only remnants of Xochimilco can be seen today … as canals. The axolotyl is on the CITES endangered species list. All of which makes it a very curious fish indeed. And one that immediately captured the interest of twelve year-old David Griffiths when he first spied one

for sale in an Adelaide newspaper. David had been keeping a few turtles and breeding the odd goldfish for some years at that stage, picking up on the old hobby of his father. But the axolotyls were something else entirely. “I found them a bit different, something interesting that most people didn’t know how to breed,” he says. For a good reason. Whilst huge numbers were bred in laboratories around the world, little information on how to do it was in the public domain (there was no internet in those days!). So armed with a few tips from Dad, David gave it a go. “For the first couple of seasons they laid so many eggs but I couldn’t get them to survive.” In fact it took 4-5 years before he could regularly breed big numbers. The key turned out to be their tucker. Young axolotyls are very partial to the right live feed. For newly hatched fish, movement of a food item is the only stimulus to which they respond … by suddenly opening their large, wide mouth. “Dad told me I had to use Daphnia (water fleas), which was all well and good but nobody can tell you where to get them,” David continues. “So you have to go out and breed

them yourself or use baby brine shrimp.” Or a mixture of the two. These days David nets Daphnia from three neglected outdoor ponds near his growing sheds and from a tub filled with nutrient-rich wastewater from his culture tanks. The Daphnia feed on bacteria, fine detritus and very small algae. So David leaves his outdoor ponds well alone. “ You’ve really got to have stagnant, old water with a lot of food for the Daphnia to feed on such as decaying branches and leaves,” he explains. “Anything that falls in I leave there and when the conditions are right they just breed and breed and breed.” Although wild-caught Daphnia pose a disease risk to the young axolotyl, David has had no problems with his supply. Soon the juveniles have grown enough to be weaned onto pellets. He uses three sizes – a tiny one for the very young, one for fish to four inches, and another for the bigger broodfish. In fact the bigger fish also get some of the medium-sized pellets (from a different manufacturer) for variety. David used to feed his fish on pieces of beef heart, just like it said in all the books. But he found it made the water

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 29


very smelly. It can also take a big chunk of time. “A lot of people hand feed them by putting the meat on a wire. Can you imagine feeding 2,500 of them that way. I wouldn’t have a life!” So David’s fish learn to fend for themselves very early and, according to his customers (ornamental fish wholesalers), are all the better for it. Armed with the knowledge of how to feed his nursery of axolotyls, David also finetuned his techniques for encourag-

ing the broodfish to breed. “We began with six parents, which isn’t a lot, but when they lay so many eggs you don’t need many. “However over the years we’ve progressively kept a few more back so that we have about 24 breeders now.” The breeding season two years ago saw the emergence of an unusually-coloured male – black and white spotted – which we held onto and has been paired back to its mother this year. David hopes

that these offspring may be the first in a new line specific to his operation. But they’re too small yet to tell. “The colourings don’t really come out until they’re six months old and these ones are only about an inch long at the moment. Time will tell how good those markings will be.” Axolotys aren’t bred until they reach two years old; they will produce eggs at just one year old but it’s a strain on the young body. As females can breed sev-

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32 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

eral times a season – at 500-750 eggs a time – young mothers can fall ill with the metabolic load. The breeding season in David’s tanks is over the winter/early spring period starting in July and continuing into October/November. He thinks it’s brought on by colder water although shorter daylength could be another trigger. Certainly David conditions the breeders with live food and then brings on the action with a partial water change. However he’s never actually seen the mating behaviour because it happens in the dark. Reference books and articles suggest that the male gets proceedings underway by raising his tail and swimming around with vigorous writhing motions. He then attaches a series of spermatophores – packets of sperm atop a cone of jelly – and attempts to lead the female over them. Success comes with her picking up one or more sperm caps in her cloaca. Some hours later she begins spawning, one egg at a time. “She can lay for a couple of days. The eggs are sticky like those of a frog and she’ll lay them on plants, rocks, the bottom of the tank … anywhere. There are eggs all over the place.” When she finishes the marathon effort, David removes the eggs, placing them into 30 litre plastic fish bins from Bunnings. Hatching takes two weeks


and soon after the juveniles are transferred into big glass tanks for growth to market size. It’s all very low tech. The two sheds housing the tanks are located at the site of a building supplies company run by David’s father. “My first one was an old building shed that I bought for $50,” David recalls. “I just repainted it, put in some racking and off we went. And then I had to get a second one because that was too small. Now we’re expanding again as I don’t have enough room for this season.” The racks carry two tiers of tanks,

the hatching bins on the top and the fish tanks below – each of those 600mm long x 400mm wide x 150mm deep. He uses normal town water. For the young ones he ages the water for a day or so before using it but, once they’re a month old or so, it’s used straight from the tap, chlorine and all. Most mornings he does a 50% water change as the young ones are eating so much food and growing so quickly that the waste rapidly builds up. “You can lose them easily with bad water when they’re very young so you’ve got to be on your

toes,” David says. In fact, the young axolotyls are growing so quickly that he’s had some out the door at market size (8-10 cm). just six weeks from hatching. But that’s dependent on the food supply. “The more food you put into them, the more you need to water change and the more you have to watch the tank to pick up any problems. So we tend to push it at the beginning of the season when people are very keen to get their hands on some stock and then back off a bit later on.” He can tell how the fish are faring

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34 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

just by looking at them. “Whereas other fish will die straight off if the water is bad, axolotyls give you warning. Their fluffy, feathery gills burn back against the side of the head. Once water conditions improve, they fluff back to normal.” Up until 2000, David’s business stayed quite small. But the introduction of the GST prompted a rethink and a development into a properly-functioning business complete with additional products to supplement cash flow outside the axolotyl breeding season. As a fish supplier, David has fielded many enquiries over the years for supplemental products. Supplying the gravel that lines the tank bottom was one. At any time of the year up to sixty tonnes of specialist gravels can be found onsite sourced from right around the country for their colour and pebble size. The range is broad enough to attract international interest, recently landing an order and distributor in Hong Kong. “They’re sick of the basic Chinese gravels and Australia has a great name as a provider of high quality products,” David explains. “Our rounded gravel is much better than crushed rock which can cut fish mouths as they search the bottom for food.” Other products include neutraliser blocks, fish food and sponges for filter pumps. “I started making the sponges soon after I began breeding axolotyls because I was buying quite a few and they were expensive. Another problem is that importers swap their pump ranges quite often and don’t keep the old accessories. “So I now manufacture sponges for


FARM PROFILE

about 60 pumps and package them under the label of a Brisbane wholesaler.” David hopes to market over 2,500 axolotyls this year. Even then he won’t have to seek out customers because at the moment demand is high enough that they come to him. By selling his axolotyls at a size of 10cm, retail prices can be kept under $10 each, an excellent price point. “These are a cheap, interesting pet for kids,” David suggests. “And the tank they need is very basic; just a fine sand or gravel on the base, a rock, a piece of pipe to hide in and a corner filter box/air pump. Not being great swimmers axolotyls don’t need a lot of current. He’s resisting the temptation to expand into other species of ornamentals. “I’ve made that mistake in the past. But as soon as you start dabbling with other fish it ends up being a nightmare. And the sheds are that chockers now. Why would I bother?” Why indeed. He’s busy enough finalising a book on how to look after pet axolotyls. That comes after the success of his first book … on turtles. “We sold out our initial print run of 1000 and are now reprinting another 2000.” It’s a prodigious output for a man who runs his outfit after hours with the help of a part-time assistant (David’s employed full-time by his father’s business). No hint of burnout though. He loves it. “Axolotyls are still fun,” he says.

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FARM PROFILE

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FARM PROFILE

Northern trout hatchery feeds fishers and farmers A trout hatchery north of Sydney? You would think it is too hot. However, in the highlands of the Great Dividing Range in north-east NSW, the water temperatures are just right for rainbow and brown trout. Dozens of fishing clubs annually stock trout fingerlings into rivers, streams and impoundments to ensure that great trout fishing remains. The Dutton Trout Hatchery provides over two million fingerlings as well as interesting tourism destination. The Dutton Trout Hatchery at Ebor in north-east NSW not only produces enough rainbow trout to supply all the local fishing clubs but is also an educational facility open to the public. Just 75km east of Armidale and 125km east of Coffs Harbour, the hatchery is also a short relaxing drive for the whole family from popular sites such as the Cathedral Rocks National Park and Ebor Falls, the historic gold fields and the gorges of Hillgrove and the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Mr L. P. Dutton developed the hatchery in 1925 when a member of the New

South Wales Rod Fishersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Society. The original site was near Guyra but the facility moved to its present location on the Serpentine River in 1949 to ensure a more reliable water supply. The property covers 12ha and produces two million rainbow trout annually for the local fishing clubs and local communities. It also hatches brown trout eggs sourced from the Gaden Trout Hatchery at Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains. With over thirteen fishing clubs in the New England area and another ten in the greater vicinity, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s little wonder that the Dutton

Many of the ponds, including the broodstock dam, have a number of string lines to protect the fish from potential predators.

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 37


FARM PROFILE

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hatchery has such a high demand for stock. However Acting Manager Peter Selby believes that the farm has much more to offer than fish alone. “Last year we had over 7,500 visitors to the hatchery. We are quite popular with the tourists and especially with bus trips. The hatchery is open to the public daily (with the exception of Good Friday and Christmas Day) and offers attractions such as aquarium displays of trout, eels, blue crayfish and other endangered freshwater species.” Visitors can also hand feed the broodstock and meet what are described as “the tamest trout on the Tablelands” as well as viewing the “spectacular audio-visual show in the theatrette” on the Dutton Hatchery. While there is no fishing in the hatchery, barbecue and picnic facilities are available. Water Supply The whole facility is supplied by the Serpentine River with a consistent supply of clean, freshwater. But the temperature does vary – from 2°C in winter to perhaps 30° in summer. There is a


FARM PROFILE

Paul Sheather shows off one of the female broodstock.

backup supply – a storage dam of 50ML – in case summer gets too dry. The hatchery runs on a flow through system with water is gravity-fed from the river through the farm and back into the river. Although very little water is therefore lost to the river, all farm usage is carefully metered. “In winter we use a couple of megalitres a day and in summer we use less, generally around just one megalitre,” says Peter. Although the EPA undertakes monthly water testing regime, some parameters such as pH and oxygen are measured daily. “In summer we test the oxygen levels twice daily to ensure that the fish are getting enough oxygen,” Peter explains. “If it is getting too low we can adjust by either adding a paddlewheel aerator or increasing the water flows.” The farm uses 2HP four-paddle aerators which can be switched on for 24 hours a day until any oxygenation problems are corrected. The hatchery also has a 60 KVA generator for any power outages.

The farm has had few problems with disease with only four cases of white spot during the last 14 years. “It’s not something we have had to worry about but we do monitor the fish to make sure they are healthy.” The farm has only one main predator – birds. “We do lose a few fish to the cormorants but not very many as string

lines over the ponds have deterred most of them. The smaller ponds are covered with shade cloth, which protects the smaller fish from the birds and also reduces the amount of sun that reaches the tanks. It also helps to keep the temperatures down.” The farm has five earthen broodstock ponds; each has a volume of about 1.2

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 39


FARM PROFILE

This tray of fry are at the size where they are ready to be distributed to a fishing club for release.

The hatchery boasts an amazing educational facility which includes this aquarium display.

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megalitres and all are flow-through. “We have about 4,500 broodstock on site,” Peter continues “each generally between one and three years old. “There are also a few four year olds but we don’t keep many of those as they are less viable as broodstock after threes years. The fish usually stay in these ponds for most of the year. Around Anzac Day we drain the ponds and sort the fish into male and female ready for the stripping season.” Hand Stripping The farm has four cement raceways (each 30m long by 1m deep and 1m wide) into which the female broodstock are placed. There are also 20 cement ponds, each of which hold 4,000L. It’s there that the male broodstock are kept and conditioned. The females are tested every week to see which ones are ripe, a process that continues through until August. Peter says the ripe females and males are taken into the hatchery breeding shed where they are placed in tanks and anaesthetised. “Some of the fish are quite large so this (anaesthetics) makes them much easier to handle and also reduces the stress on the fish. If we didn’t anaesthetise them, there is a greater risk of the fish being injured. “The process of stripping the fish is a case of holding the fish and sliding your hand down the stomach of the fish and applying a little pressure. If the fish are ripe, the eggs or milt come out very easily with no harm to the fish.” After stripping the broodstock are returned to the ponds to recover. The stocking rates of the ponds vary depending on the age groups and therefore the size of the fish. One year old stock are held at 1,500 per megalitre whilst the larger fish (1.5kg) are stocked at 600/ML. The 3.5kg fish are stocked a t about 300/ML. Hand-stripped eggs from several females are spread across four or five bowls (the number females will often be dependent on how many eggs the fish are producing). The milt is taken from the males and mixed with an activator solution. “We use a ratio of three females to each male to increase the


FARM PROFILE

the alevins settle to the bottom of the trays and will then reach the swim-up stage where they swim to the surface to feed. These fish are transferred to the 42 x 300L fry troughs.”

Peter Selby measuring fry for fish release. 500 fish are counted and placed in a known volume of water. By measuring the displacement it is then easy to get a relatively accurate count without too much stress on the fry.

chances of a good fertilisation rate,” Peter explains. The eggs are covered with water for approximately 30 minutes until they harden. Then the eggs are washed to clean off any of the excess milt and placed in the upwellers. There are 11 upwellers, each with a volume of 60L

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of water and holding up to 100,000 eggs. The eggs stay in the upwellers for between three to five weeks before being syphoned out and put through the automatic egg picker which is highly accurate and can remove over 95% of the dead eggs. “The eggs are then placed in trays to hatch. Once hatched,

First Feeding At this stage the fish are introduced to their first feed of a commercial diet produced by Skretting. Beginning with the 0.3mm powder, feed sizes are increased as the fish grow up to the 9mm pellet fed to broodstock. All feeding is done by hand ensuring the fish are fed to appetite and allowing observation of how the fish are feeding – a good indicator of the health of the fish. “We try to feed them about 2% of their body weight a day, usually in two feeds, one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” says Peter. The troughs are cleaned on a daily basis to remove any excess feed or any mortalities. “We have a reasonable low mortality rate. The survival rate to the eyed egg stage is around 85% but overall we would have probably a 75% survival rate.”. Once the fish are feeding freely, they are moved to 2,500 litre fibreglass tanks

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FARM PROFILE

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) To allow inter-farm comparisons, each AAM farm profile details a number of key performance indicators for different aquaculture systems. Except for the comments under ‘Key Management Decisions’ which are prepared by Dos, the information has been supplied by the farmer: • Key Management Decisions at Dutton Trout Hatchery include: – Relocation to Serpentine River with better year round water supplies – Using tried and proven techniques based on many decades of experience – Large selection of broodfish to allow breeding – Work with another hatchery which supplies brown trout – The hatchery also runs four kids’ fishing clinics a year. • Culture System utilised: ponds, tanks and raceways. • Growth rate (from stocking to market): <4 months (30mm) • Survival rate: 80% from egg to fry • Annual harvest: 2 million x 30mm fry • Water use: flow through • FCR: not applicable • Productivity: 0.5 million fry per Effective Fulltime Unit (240 days, 48wk x 40hr)

in the hatchery. These tanks are also cleaned every day. As well as the cement ponds, there’s an additional 12 fibreglass tanks outside varying in size between 2,500-4,000L. All are covered in shade cloth which not only protects from predation and the sun but also boosts growth rates: the fish aren’t spooked by any movement above the tanks which normally would stress the fish and reduce their feeding. The young fish are kept at the farm until reaching about 30mm by which stage they are ready to be packed for distribution. Harvested from the tanks with a small net, 2,000 fish are placed at a time into a plastic bag with 25 to 30 litres of clean water. “We do a sample count to start which so we don’t have to count all the fish individually,” Peter explains. “We count out 500 fish and then we measure them by volume of

This live fish transporter is used for fry release and excess broodstock release to ensure the fish reach their destination in good condition.

Paul Sheather carefully places fish into the transporter.

water. We do this a few times and we use the water volume as an average.” The bags are inflated with oxygen before being placed in a box for transport. They are collected by the fishing clubs for release into specified waterways. This whole production is able to be successfully run by four full time staff (and one clerical person one day a week). Working in such a beautiful environment while meeting interesting visitors and helping to restock the local fisheries, has got to be a dream job … since 1949 there have just been six managers! Peter himself is very aware of the

42 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

legacy of previous managers. “The hatchery is what it is today due to the previous manager of forty years, John Sheather. His tireless work producing millions of fish each year made the hatchery a major showpiece of the New England Tablelands.” by, Andrina Fay For more information contact Peter Selby, Dutton Trout Hatchery, Point Lookout Road, Ebor, NSW 2453. Tel: 02 67759139, Fax: 02 6775-9186, email: selbyp@fisheries.nsw.gov.au


NEWS

NSW oyster growers buckle under QAP costs The NSW oyster industry was late implementing a Shellfish Quality Assurance Program based on the quality of the growing waters. Tasmania and South Australia were well ahead in their efforts. But in the end it had no choice. Justice Wilcox saw to that. His findings on the Wallis Lake inquiry – investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to the eating of oysters – left no room for equivocation. Depuration – the industry’s mainstay for over 20 years – had proven insufficient on its own to ensure food safety. Initial grower objections were quickly swamped by a seismic shift in government regulation and community expectation. A target date of mid-2004 was agreed to by all states for the adopting of an Australian Shellfish Quality Program based on the American model. Easy to say, hard to do. “The Tasmanian and SA industries were comparatively new industries,” says Andrew Phillips, a fourth-generation oyster farmer from Port Stephens. “They started with a bare slate and built on that. “The NSW industry has 100 years of history and implementing the new program is more like putting the proverbial square plug in a round hole.” Not that the idea of classifying growing waters – and monitoring them on an ongoing basis – was entirely new to NSW. The state’s previous big scare (in 1978) on the food safety of oysters had led to the adoption of depuration, purification of harvested oysters in a bath of sterilised water prior to their sending to market. “Depuration was never intended as a long-term solution,” Andrew continues. “In my view purification was only ever a socio-economic device to keep mildly-polluted areas in production. It’s a first step. The second stage was to classify the growing areas and NSW Fisheries even employed someone to get the ball rolling.

“But it all got too hard and was allowed to lapse. With purification in place, farmers producing again and consumers eating those oysters, the resolve to push on dissipated. No-one fully realised the importance of that next step. “Everyone let it slide.” Now, twenty years later the same agenda is back with a vengeance. Being such a long-established industry with a rich tradition, NSW’s Sydney rock oyster fishery is peopled by an array of personalities farming a wide variety of estuaries. So reaching a consensus and understanding amongst the myriad close-knit, estuary-based communities remains difficult. “There’s an old saying that ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear’,” Andrew says. “I’m afraid many students still aren’t ready.” Nonetheless, he says the NSW Food Authority “has tried its hardest on limited resources to educate as many growers as possible”. Results, though, are slow in coming. Four years on the classification process is still grinding on. An end is not yet in sight. And all the while, the cost to growers is mounting. The process kicked off promisingly

enough with a $4m allocation from the State Government. However, a conservative approach to the classification process by the Authority and the insistence by industry that each and every growing area be classified, has led to a long, drawn-out process. “We’re going about it the wrong way,” Andrew opinions. “The fact is that we are in a business that relies on a clean environment. Right at the beginning of the process I suggested that we take a broad-brush approach and gather existing data from everywhere, work out where the top areas are and then drill down to greater detail. “There’s a lot of good water around and identifying it is good management. Corrie Island is a good example. Traditionally it was a catching area but once it received conditionally-approved status, about 40 growers have built racks there and have started harvesting. “Finding good water is a better use of the funds available than classifying places that are probably marginal at best.” With over 100 areas to be classified and money to fund it drying up, progress is slow. “Classification begins with a shoreline survey; basically putting the gumboots on and traipsing around the shore looking in the drains

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NEWS

and identifying pollution points,” says Andrew. “Then a series of water stations are identified from which water quality data are collected over a period of time. A minimum of 30 tests from each station is needed to get a reasonable data set. And the drought hasn’t helped. “But in essence we have been doing water testing for a decade or so and with that data and the sanitary survey, surely we have enough to run the numbers on many areas and classify them as Approved, Restricted or Prohibited.” Andrew in fact likes the idea of classification. “I went to the International Conference on Molluscan Shellfish Safety at Long Island (America) in 2000. And on the way back home I detoured via Puget Sound, visited their health department and had a really good look at their system. “In essence it is an environmental scorecard of the health of the estuary. By virtue of the fact that water quality tests are being done every month or when it rains you are able to track degradation or improvement over time. “This benefits the community in general. After all, in an area like ours (Port Stephens), residents and visitors fish and swim in the water and they should have this information.” Indeed, the Healthy Rivers Commission has already drawn the link between oyster-friendly growing areas and general catchment health. Having identified pollution sources in the classification process, Andrew wonders aloud, whose responsibility it is to do something about it. “In general, there’s no mechanism and no money to clean up a pollution source. And there should be.” Over time, the Government’s initial annual allocation of $4m for ASQAP readiness has steadily dwindled. Last year it was cut to $900,000. In the current year it will be slashed further to just $400,000 and in the next there may be no public funds. Instead, the ‘user-pays’ principal is being invoked. Growers are picking up the lion’s share of the tab. “We’ve estimated that if production levels and grower numbers stay the same, about 13% of a farm’s gross revenue will go to the Shellfish Program,”

says Andrew. However, with predictions of a third of all farmers quitting due to the increased imposts, those costs are likely to be spread amongst fewer and fewer farmers. “That compares to the estimate of 34% given by the chair of the QAP at one of the first meetings on the issue back in the early ‘90s. This is the most recent in a long line of challenges for the Sydney rock oyster industry over recent decades. Within Port Stephens itself, the introduction of Pacific oysters in he early ‘80s has left a lasting impact. “At the time Pacifics landed on our doorstep, we were all in stick cultivation,” Andrew recalls. “Over-catching soon made that unviable. Then the Government began restricting movements out of our estuary – to limit the spread of Pacifics – and that killed our ‘all-in’ trade (thirty-month old oysters sent to all the other Sydney rock growing areas for a season’s growth before sale).” Due to the Pacific’s faster growth, a number of Port Stephens farms began growing both species whilst others chose to specialise in the introduced oyster. “At the time Pacifics provided extra cash to a lot of the guys because they got fat oysters in winter, a novelty especially for stock growers traditionally feeding the ‘all-in’ market,” Andrew continues. “Now though it’s just a pest. Growers get $5 for Pacifics and $8 for Sydney rocks. I think Sydney rocks are a lot more profitable as a single seed product because they need a lot less handling each year even though Pacifics grow faster.” All things being equal, Andrew reckons farming Pacifics requires almost double the labour of a Sydney rock farm for the same harvest numbers. So what growers are left with is a management headache. Each year the overcatch of Pacifics drives growers crazy. Some still kill them with a dip in boiling water but most manage by pulling their oysters out of the water; Pacifics can’t handle being dry. “We have all hands on deck here after Christmas when the Pacifics settle. We have to manage it very quickly so it doesn’t get out of control,” Andrew explains. “But we’ve been doing it for

44 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

years and are now proficient at moving oysters around very quickly.” Nevertheless, the window for managing the Pacific oyster overcatch is finite and the success of that effort dependent on the numbers of punts available, the distance to unloading facilities, tidal access, land area and labour. So he sees a valuable role for some targeted research by Fisheries. “Growers keep on telling me it would be nice if our management could be a bit more scientific. Early warning is what we need, a prompt that the oysters are about to settle so get ready to dry. “Each bay is a little different and at the moment we use our own methods. Guys tear their hair out trying to get it right. A little scientific help would go a long way.” Whilst Port Stephens has its Pacifics, other estuaries have the QX parasite. Winter mortality of young translocated stock has also struck hard in some areas. And then there’s been the phasing out of tarred sticks, forcing an unwelcome retooling on many farms. Given all of the above, the meteoric rise of QAP fees is proving the last straw for some and a bitter blow to the rest. Andrew reckons the key to mitigating grower’s cost is for the community to realise the value it gets from such constant monitoring. “Education really is the main game. The Oyster Farmers Association and the oyster section of the NSW Farmers’ Association got together recently to run a series of regional forums up and down the coast extolling the virtues of the program. We’ve been trying to get community leaders, politicians, local councillors, water boards and local environmental groups along to hear what we’re doing. “It’s just the beginning of the process but hopefully over time the message will sink in and we’ll start to get support from the community in general.” It’s a simple yet powerful message. Oysters in estuaries are the marine equivalent of canaries in the coalmine. Will the people listen? Growers fervently hope so. For when the community mobilises, politicians listen. As they should. A proud industry depends on it. by Tim Walker


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Australasian Aquaculture 2006

The Australasian Aquaculture ‘Innovation in Aquaculture’ Conference is to be held in the Adelaide Convention Centre from 27 to 30 August 2006. This follows the successful inaugural conference and trade show held in Sydney in 2004. The theme for Australasian Aquaculture 2006 is “Innovation in Aquaculture”. Innovation is not only new technology. Increasing profit, entering new markets, obtaining skilled labour, in fact, all aspects of aquaculture require a level of innovation. The event will also

provide a forum to discuss the latest advances and innovations across the industry. A partnership approach between the National Aquaculture Council of Australia (NAC), the World Aquaculture Society’s Asia-Pacific Chapter (WASAPC) and the South Australian Aquaculture Council (SAAC) will produce an outstanding forum. It is geared to meet the needs of aquaculture farmers, seafood processors, business operators, equipment suppliers, scientists, educators, students, consultants and govern-

46 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

ment representatives throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Conference organisers are expecting over 1000 delegates to attend the conference. Topics being considered for the program will include a range of broad subjects from the latest innovations in Southern Bluefin Tuna farming to innovative uses of fish leathers. The program has been designed to run concurrent sessions over the three days. Over 150 trade booths are planned to operate during the conference and are selling out quickly. There are a number of associated events being considered such as a gala “Seafood and Wine” event and a workshop focusing on aquaculture systems using recycled treated water. The organising committee is currently calling for sponsorship from interested parties. There are several levels of sponsorship being offered including conference, session, conference reception and a range of special areas. The conference will provide a great opportunity for establishing your organisation as a keen and vital supporter of the emerging aquaculture industry in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. More details on the sponsorship options can be obtained from the Conference Coordinator – Claudia Metti. Claudia has a wealth of experience in meetings and events and conference management and the conference organisers feel very fortunate to have her on board for Australasian Aquaculture 2006.

For those interested in exhibiting at the Trade Show, or sponsoring the event, please contact Claudia for further information: Telephone (08) 8226 2269 or email metti.claudia@saugov.sa.gov.au If you need more information on the conference, check out the link to the conference website at www.australian-aquacultureportal.com


NEWS

Advances in Penaeus monodon culture One of the best attended presentations at the recent World Aquaculture Conference in Bali (2005) was that given by Dr Claude Boyd, a regular visitor to Australia and well known for his pioneering work on aquaculture in ponds. Another popular talk was by Dr George Chamberlain, the well known advocate of shrimp (prawn) farming around the world. This article summarises some of their research over the past decade which has resulted in some excellent advice for monodon prawn farmers. Comments on the relevance of this work to Australian prawn farmers are provided by Proaqua’s Doug Pearson. With a library of books and publications to his name, Dr Claude Boyd’s uncomplicated explanations of the science of water quality, sediments and soils have helped aquaculturists from around the world to manage their ponds. At WAS’ Bali meeting, Claude pointed to the rapidly changing methodologies in shrimp (prawn) culture around the world, including: • Reduction in water exchange and adoption of water re-use; • More intensive production due to: – Increased mechanical aeration; – Experimentation with lined ponds and heterotrophic systems; – Microbial products; – Greater use of liming materials and other amendments; and • Inland culture in low-salinity water. He said that all of these illustrated the growing importance of water quality and bottom soil management in shrimp culture. “Water exchange can improve water quality in ponds by flushing out nutrients, phytoplankton, and organic matter,” he said. “Unfortunately, it also increases effluent pollution loads by flushing out these substances before they can be assimilated by natural processes. Water exchange also can encourage the spread of disease among shrimp farms that are close to each other.” However mechanical aeration may be installed to allow water exchange to be reduced without lowering production. “Aerators can increase production by 350 to 400 kg per horsepower by supplementing natural sources of dissolved

In addition to water quality testing, close examination of the feeding activity of the prawns with the feed trays is important.

oxygen. Water circulation induced by aerators helps reduce horizontal and vertical gradients in water quality and provides oxygenated flow over the sediment surface.” Claude said that there was now widespread use of microbial products in Asia. “A study by Graslund et al. (2003) reported that 86% of shrimp farmers in Thailand used micro-organisms or their derivatives as sediment and water quality enhancers. The most common products were living bacteria (usually Bacillus spp.) and products prepared from bacterial cultures rich in organic acids, vitamins, micronutrients, and enzymes. The use of microbial

products is increasing in other regions.” He said that vendors claim that microbial products enhance the following processes: • organic matter degradation; • nitrification; • denitrification; • sulphide oxidation; and • degradation of toxic pollutants. “Some also claim that they lessen blue-green algal abundance and prevent off-flavour. The question is: Will microbial products actually enhance sediment and water quality to improve environmental conditions in culture systems for shrimp, fish, and other aquaculture species?”

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 47


NEWS

A super-intensive prawn farm in Belize. Photo courtesy of Michelle Burford.

Table 1: Types of Liming Materials (Source Boyd 2005). Product

Neutralizing value

Compounds

Agricultural limestone

ª 100%

CaCO3; CaCO3•MgCO3

Burnt lime

ª 175%

CaO; CaO•MgO

Hydrated lime

ª 135%

Ca(OH)2; Ca(OH)2•Mg(OH)2

Table 2: Adsorption of Ammonium by Zeolite. Salinity

Mg NH4-N adsorbed/g zeolite

0 ppt

8.6

4 ppt

0.12

8 ppt

0.10

16 ppt

0.08

32 ppt

0.04

[(1 g NH4-N/m3) (10,000 m3/ha)] ∏ 9 g NH4-N/g zeolite = 1,111 kg zeolite/ha. His research so far hasn’t proven that benefit. “We could not detect significant differences in water and soil quality variables between ponds treated with microbial products and control ponds. Fish production and survival were sometimes slightly higher in ponds treated with microbial products. However, more studies are needed to better evaluate the potential of microbial products, and to find the conditions at which they are effective.” Fertiliser and zeolite additions Claude made several recommendations on the use of liming materials (Table 1) in prawn ponds: • Apply agricultural limestone to pond

waters with a total alkalinity below 60 or 70 mg/L as CaCO3. • Alkalinity should be kept above 100mg/L; ideally above 120mg/L. • Apply agricultural limestone to pond bottom soils with pH below 7.0 or 7.5. • Apply burnt lime or hydrated lime at 1,500 to 2,000kg/ha to disinfect pond bottoms. • Agricultural limestone will not dissolve in normal seawater or most brackishwaters. • Small, periodic applications of liming materials to most pond waters are of no benefit. Such recommendations have been supported by Proaqua’s Doug Pearson

48 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

as useful for Australian prawn farmers. Several claims for the use of zeolite in prawn farming have been made by vendors: • Removes ammonia from pond water; • Reduces hydrogen sulphide concentrations; and • Increases silicate concentrations. Claude said that the research findings for marine ponds (i.e. shrimp ponds) showed there was no chemical or physical basis for the claims, and studies of zeolite have failed to validate them. Doug Pearson elaborates that zeolite can remove some ammonia in freshwater. “But as is highlighted in Table 2, it does not take much salinity to neutralize the affect. Basically (in saline water) the zeolite favours the sodium chloride and become saturated before binding any ammonia.” With respect to silicate fertilization, Claude noted that normal seawater contains about 6.4 mg SiO2/L (3mg Si/L). “However, it is not known if additional silicate will encourage more diatoms. Research has found that silicate application of 1 mg Si/L to brackishwater containing about 2mg Si/L increased diatom abundance in replicated pond studies. To obtain a beneficial response to silicate fertilization, sodium metasilicate, the usual silicate fertilizer, should be applied at a rate equal to 1 or 2mg Si/L or more.” He was also supportive of nitrate fertilizers to encourage diatom blooms. “Nitrate is an oxidant and can promote aerobic conditions in the surface layer of sediment. Nitrate fertilizers are not acidic as are ammonium fertilizers; nitrate does not have an oxygen demand unlike ammonium; nitrate is not toxic while ammonia is.” Doug doesn’t entirely agree. Whilst it is true that nitrate is an oxidant, he says the amount used during normal fertilisation – and the potential added oxygen – are insignificant. “In normal practises about 5kg of NaNO3 would be added per hectare; 56.48% of NaNO3 by weight is oxygen. By adding 5kg of NaNO3 we potentially add 2.8kg of Oxygen or 1.4kg of O2. From Boyd’s publications on aeration efficiency, we find that a paddlewheel has a Standard Aeration Efficiency


NEWS

(SAE) of around 1.4kg of O2/Hp-hr. So a 2Hp paddlewheel will add about the same amount of O2 to the pond in about 1/2hour of running (@12c/kW) at a cost of around 9c. “Check out the price difference between sodium nitrate and urea and you decide!” Doug adds that the same can also be said for the acid potential of urea. “I agree with the point about ammonia being toxic but again, with sensible use and keeping in mind the ratio of unionised to ionised ammonia according to pH, rational safe decisions can be made.” In concluding his presentation, Claude discussed the increase in inland (low salinity) prawn culture. This is now done in several countries – China, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, Thailand, Belize and the United States; the culture species is primarily P. vannamei. “The salinity ranges from less than 1 ppt to over 10 ppt. However, where groundwater is the water source, there often are low concentrations of one or more major ions (usually potassium). Farmers need to add these ions to ensure good growth.” Disease management Dr George Chamberlain and his team of consultants have been working across the Americas, Asia and the Middle East on prawn farms. George is also one of the driving forces behind the Global Aquaculture Alliance which aims to develop and promote sustainable aquaculture. According to George, the management of disease has been a major factor limiting production of black tiger shrimp in Asia. Using the experience gained during five years of operating monodon facilities in Malaysia, he reported on advances in farm and hatchery management technology. “The initial approach was aimed at control of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). This involved screening of post larvae, fine filtration of water, and pond management with zero water exchange. This was largely effective in controlling WSSV, but occasional outbreaks still occurred.” He said that a second step involved development of an SPF line of black

The algal floc and bubbles in this pond is an indicator high organic matter and potential problems for the farmer..

This partly drained pond will be dried out, scrapped and then limed to increase productivity.

tiger shrimp to eliminate WSSV as well as other viral diseases which affect growth rate and size uniformity. “This required investment in a PCR diagnostic laboratory as well as primary and second quarantine facilities. This step was highly effective in avoiding disease outbreaks and improving year-round productivity of the hatchery and farm.” The third step, which is now underway, involves use of the SPF stocks as a foundation population for a breeding program targeting fast growth as the primary selection criteria. Feeds George and his team have also examined feeds and feeding strategies. “In recognition of the superior growth potential of selectively bred SPF stocks, additional effort has been directed toward development of high performing feeds,” he explained. “In a series of preliminary pond trials, promising results have been achieved with extruded, rather than pelleted diets. “Other elements that have been help-

ful in our experience have been use of a database to facilitate storage and review of pond data and use of a live harvesting system that improves quality by directly pumping live shrimp into an ice slurry.”

For more information contact Dr Claude Boyd, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Auburn University, Alabama 36849 USA. Email: boydce1@auburn.edu Funding for Claude’s research was provided by the Aquaculture Collaborative Research Support Program, which is funded in part by a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant and by participating institutions. George Chamberlain, Kenneth Morrison, Christopher Howell and Randall Aungst, Mega Prawns and Black Tiger Aquaculture, 5661 Telegraph Road, Suite 3A, St. Louis, MO 63129 USA. Email: georgec@integra.prserv.net Doug Pearson can be contacted through Proaqua on 07 3260-1070

UARAH FISHERIES • Intensive pond & recirculation production of Murray cod table fish since 1991 • Producers of F1 generation Murray cod fingerlings • Suppliers of Murray cod, silver perch and golden perch fingerlings to industry & government “The best fish grow in the sunshine”

Grong Grong N.S.W. 2652 Ph: 02 6956 2147 Fax: 02 6956 2245 Mob: 0428 696 927 December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 49


NEWS

Sydney Royal Show Awards for farmed prawns Once again the high quality of Australian Farmed Prawns was demonstrated at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. This year 17 medals were awarded, 6 gold, 9 silver and 2 bronze, to a total of six prawn farms, both black tiger and banana were awarded medals. The Champion Prawn Exhibit was awarded to Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture. Each year since 2001 some of Australia’s best quality products are sent to be judged by Australian and International invited food experts at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. Australian prawns and oysters are “magnificent” according to the compiled results of the Easter 2005 Fine Food Show. Judging is held in two stages to reflect the seasons of the aquaculture produce. In the Farmed Prawn class, the entries could include black tiger, kuruma, school and banana prawns. Champion Prawn Exhibit Chairman of Judges of the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, Grahame Latham singled aquaculture out as the highlight of the Show, with judges awarding a massive 11 Gold Medals. For prawns 17 medals were awarded. “Consumers are the real winners because all of these products are available to buy,” Grahame said. “Farmed prawns were particularly strong, which is to be expected because the (growing) conditions are controlled. We encountered what I consider to be the perfect prawn.” Gold Medals were awarded to most entries in the Prawn Class with six Queensland operations: Crystal Bay Prawns® (Seafarm Pty Limited, Cardwell), Coral Sea Farms (Macknade), Pacific Reef Fisheries (Ayr), Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (Woongoolba), Prawns North (Kirwan) and Bullock Creek Prawn Farm (Donnybrook) and one New South Wales based operation: Ballina Fishing Park (Ballina) acknowledged for their high quality product. The Champion Prawn Exhibit was awarded to Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture Pty Ltd for cooked black tiger

farm prawns. Owner Noel Herbst was ecstatic about the win. “We have been a great supporter of the Fine Food Show from when started in 2001. We see it as a great marketing tool,” he said. Noel said that they chose the prawns from our daily harvest. “We select prawns that are of uniform size, with good general appearance and colour, with all feelers and legs intact. The prawns are cooked in our HACCP approved processing facility. The facility also has ISO9001 certification and is registered by AQIS ready for export. The onsite processing plant has done up to 13 tonnes in a day, but normally we process around 5 to 6 tonnes per day.” The awards won by Noel and his team are often loaned to various customers to display in their shops or restaurants. Peter Michaels, owner of Peter Michaels Seafoods, one of Cronulla’s retail icons said that he displays the awards on the wall near the cash registers. He believes that the awards are beneficial for the whole industry in the longer term, including the wholesalers and retailers. “Having ‘award winning’ prawns in my shop is great as I am pushing quality constantly.” He believes grading is one area where Noel’s prawns excel. “From the first prawn taken at the beginning of the season to the last prawn at the end of the harvest, it is very important to have consistent grading. For example, with some suppliers, a 30/kg grade will have some prawns that are very small (2023g), others very big (38-40g) and the rest (in between) to give an average of 33g or so. Customers don’t like that;

50 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

you must have the prawns all at a uniform size of between 25 and 35g. Noel concentrates on quality and consistent grading so his presentation is very good.” Other Winners The six other farms which won medals provide an interesting and exciting cross-section of the industry. They extend from one of the largest farms to one of the smallest, and are from tropical and temperate regions. One thing they all have in common is their interest in wanting to promote their products and their industry. Although Prawns North is only into its third year of production, the farm still managed to win one gold (16/20) and one silver (10/15). According to Sales Manager Rod Tome, the team is pretty proud of their win. Next year they will also try a 20/30 grade. “We process the product in our $1 million HACCP and AQIS certified processing shed. We are only new and we are still learning all the time so our quality can only get better.” With their silver medal for 16/20 and a bronze for 21/30 entries, Pacific Reef Fisheries are using the awards as a measure of their position in the market. According to Manager Trevor Anderson they have identified what they need to do to improve the quality of the entry. “Our customers see our prawns as excellent, but even so we are using this (the Fine Foods Show) as an additional way of obtaining a third party comparison on how we are going. The Show is a good thing for industry as we can all get together and have a look at each other’s product and see what is out there. It gives us some-


NEWS

thing to aim for next year.” Coral Sea Farms, one of the newest entrants to prawn farming, presently sells the majority of its prawns to the Fish Market in Sydney. It was encouraged to enter the Show by one of its buyers a couple of years ago and picked up two silver medals in 2004. Marketing Director Agnes Vas is very proud of the gold (10/15), a silver (16/20) and a bronze (21/30) for 2005. “We were very pleased at this result considering we were going to hand pick the prawns for the entries but, being right in the middle of a busy processing run, only had time to just grab some of the prawns we had destined for the market.” Banana prawns were used by Seafarm for their entries graded according to its Japanese-orientated system. Three golds (35/40, 40/45 and 45/50) as well as one silver (30/35) came their way. “We have been winning medals since the Show’s inception,” said Sam Gordon, Sales and Marketing Manager. “The main reason without doubt for our involvement is the leverage for marketing, both domestic and international. We put the medals on our promotional materials, brochures, posters, web site. For the overseas market we use them to help differentiate our product in the market. We see it as an independent verification that our prawns are good quality.” Sam said that Crystal Bay Prawns would continue to support the Show. “We are the only ones putting in banana prawns, so as long as the judges are aware of the difference between the species (such as a lighter colour and a softer shell for the bananas when compared to the black tigers), we will be happy with the results.” Bullock Creek Prawn Farm, located on the Sunshine Coast, is a small farm with only 3ha of ponds. However, owner-operators Peter and Judy Spindler have been winning medals at the Show for the past four years. “We only put in one entry each year,” explained Peter, “But we have won 2 gold (including this year) and two silvers. We just take from what we have, so the sizes we have entered have varied from 11/15, to 16/20 (this year’s

gold) and even 21/25. We harvest on a daily basis during our season from the end of January until early May. People come to our farm gate store to get fresh juicy prawns. Over Easter we could sell 3-4 tonnes!” Being small seems to be an advantage for the Spindlers as they sell all of product fresh farm gate. Not only do they get good prices, but also they get instant feedback on their product. “People can even watch us cooking the prawns. We won’t sell anything frozen and we are picking up more and more business. The local media are great for us and being able to have a gold medal helps our story even more.” Another small operation that has had to look at non-traditional ways of increasing their cash flow is the Ballina Fishing Park, located in northern NSW. Owner-operator Noel Porter has split his farm in half, turning one part into a fishout stocked with a number of hatchery-reared finfish species as well as mud crabs. “We are still producing prawns but we only have a small harvest. Our main time is during March and April so the February judging is too early for us to harvest large prawns. We got a silver medal for our 16/20s this year, but I don’t think we’ll be able to get up to a gold standard, as the season is not right. We need to get around 80kg of harvest so I can select the 2kg. On the larger farms they have better grading setups and a lot more product to choose from.”

by Dos O’Sullivan For more information on award winning prawns contact: • Noel Herbst, Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture Pty Ltd, Marks Rd, Woongoolba, Qld 4207. Tel: 07 5546-1361, Mobile: 0418 453-281 Fax: 07 5546-1492, Email: gcmh@ion.com.au. • Agnes Vas, Coral Sea Farms, PO Box 84, Macknade QLD 4850. Tel: 07 4777-2797, Fax: 07 4777-2793, email: info@coralseafarms.com.au web:www.coralseafarms.com.au • Sam Gordon, Seafarm (who grow Crystal Bay Prawns), Tel: 02 9356-1056 Mobile: 0417 234-208 Email: sgordon@toga.com.au • Rod Tome, Prawns North, Mobile: 0429 474-650 Tel: 07 4770-7332, fax: 07 4773-3443 • Peter and Judy Spindler, Bullock Creek Prawn Farm, Tel: 07 5498-8659 Fax: 07 5498-8399 • Noel Porter, Ballina Fishing Park, Tel: 02 6686-8149, Fax: 02 6686-8445 • Dr Trevor Anderson, Pacific Reef Fisheries, PO Box 2200, Ayr 4805 QLD Tel: 07 4783-6068, Fax: 07 4783-6069 Mobile: 0427 329-332 For more information on the Fine Foods Show call Diana on 02 9704-1299 or email dcaruso@rasnsw.com.au, www.sydney.royalshow.com/find-food.html.

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December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 51


TECHNOLOGY

Cumminscorp’s revolutionary C-Box and C-Clean A passion for clean water and a palate for fresh fish have been the inspiration for Cumminscorp Limited’s revolutionary Recirculating Aquacultural System (RAS) – the C-Box and water remediation system, the C-Clean. Since 1997, inventor and Managing Director, Ian Cummins of Cumminscorp (an Australian public unlisted company) has been avidly researching, creating and applying world wide patents to the CBox and C-clean. These ecologically sustainable systems are designed to dramatically benefit aquaculture production, minimise water pollution and revitalise our international waterways.

Ian started by immersing himself in the aquaculture industry after working as a crayfish and line fisherman on boats plying the Great Barrier Reef, constantly inventing new processes and equipment along the way. He soon discovered a torrent of environmental issues was posing an enormous threat to the quality of fresh fish and the long term future of the wildcatch industry. By engaging his entrepreneurial flair, Ian was convinced he could design a more practical and effective process that would revolutionise the farming of aquatic species with a key focus on water technology in three

52 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

primary areas; aquaculture, water remediation and grey water treatment. In order to advance the commercialisation of a succinct range of products, Ian established a public unlisted company structure to sustain ongoing R&D activities and to support future capital raising ventures. Seven years of measured research and rigorous testing finally saw Ian’s vision realised with the commercial international release of the pioneering C-Box and the development of the regenerative water cleaning system, the C-Clean. The C- Box is essentially an environmentally friendly, low maintenance,


TECHNOLOGY

cost-effective water remediation system that combines climate controlled aquaculture technology into a single system. The 5600 litre capacity C-Box is just one of a series of seven self-contained, re-circulating water systems that can be used singularly or together – dependent on requirements – and which can be easily transported via ship or truck. With the no-nonsense, practical approach of a farmer, Ian designed components for considerably less than those commercially available. By using inhouse designed and manufactured components and only specific out-sourced equipment, costs are kept to a minimum. The C-Box is made from moulded polyethylene. Polyethelene is durable, UV ray resistant and has excellent insulation properties. There are no contaminant emissions from polythelene thereby reducing the risk of artificial contaminants affecting the quality of the fish. Internationally-recognized ecologist Dr Tom Riggert, a senior research scientist with Cumminscorp, says the company’s revolutionary C-Box aquaculture solution can produce up to 1000 percent more fish than other commercially available systems at densities previously considered unattainable, while bolstering current acceptable growth rates by 300 percent. “This technology allows up to 1000 tonnes of fish to be cultivated per hectare while traditional aquaculture methods comparatively only yield around five tones per hectare,” said Dr Riggert. An operational C-Box can maintain up to approximately 1000 kilograms of Jade Perch in 5000 litres of fresh water and 1000 kilograms of Barramundi in 6000 litres. When introduced to the tanks, barramundi fingerlings are an average weight of 3.69 grams, an average length of 5.61mm and 7000 fingerlings consume around 500g of feed per day. Over a period of four months these fingerlings grow to an average weight of between 500-600g and an average height between 30-35cm. Other possible applications of the CBox include tropical and ornamental fish, hatcheries, fresh and saltwater species, seahorses, banana prawns, bait fish, trawler catch storage and fish for

food production. For the fish stocks, new species can be introduced without fear of local wildlife contamination. Furthermore, airborne disease is unlikely to form in these systems. In operational mode the stand alone self-contained box uses as little as 2000w per 5000lts and can be cleaned while still fully operational. This includes a drum filter which can be quickly and easily replaced without shutting the system down. By requiring only 11m3 of internal area, the C-Box has practical and inexpensive climate control. There is no need for massive power wasting heaters or chillers. Additionally, the short pumping distances consume less power and up to 90% less plumbing, allowing massive harvests in very small areas. The C-Box uses natural forces such as gravity instead of pressure and pumps to operate the system at 5psi. The water level adjustment is by a simple dual system with no messy water leaks. Through the process of evaporation and fish splash, the C-Box consumes 1% of water per day while the remaining 99% can be recycled through Cumminscorp’s optional Aquaponics system. If Aquaponics is used, the water from the Aquaponics is recycled back into the C-Box for fish production eliminating any discharge of water into the environment.

This ‘complicated simplicity’ mimics the functions of the human brain, kidneys and bowel in cleaning water. According to Ian Cummins, the C-box is a culmination of passion, dedication and research with one real aim, pure water. “The basis and inspiration of our technologies is water and the way in which it is handled, is a primary consideration that is generally ignored in existing remediation and aquaculture methodologies,” he said. “The world is struggling to cope with a shortage of fresh, clean water that will become critical for very large populations in many countries during the next ten years. The C-Box is a means for transforming the environment and injecting life into water once again.” Mr Cummins said. The C-Box has been rigorously protected by a swath of international process and design orientated patents with in excess of 32 in existence to ensure that the company’s technology will be future-proofed. In addition to the C-Box, Cummin-

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 53


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scorp have developed the C-Clean. A mainstay of their water remediation system, the C-clean removes all toxic algae, including blue green, phosphates (soluble and insoluble), ammonia, ecoli, facial coliforms and nitrogen from polluted lakes and waterways, revitalizing water quality without the use of harmful chemicals. The C-clean water remediation process is in advanced stages of development and is already capable of returning substantially polluted water to drinking standard without the use of harmful chemicals or creating negative environmental impact. The water remediation system uses the same patented principles as the CBox and can be operated both on land or water. Modules of four or more, linked floating units can be mobilized to remediate sizeable polluted bodies of water such as lakes and rivers to achieve drinking water standard without the use of chemicals or any impact on the local environment. These modules can be assigned over

any area to revitalize the water quality as the water ebbs and flows. “We are now remediating water that was previously considered untreatable and we are doing it without the use of any chemicals,” said Mr. Cummins. “Once you take water, treat it harshly and compress it, as is done with reverse osmosis or desalination- the minerals have been removed and therefore it is no longer water.” “At Cumminscorp, we have approached the problem from a different perspective. We recognized the need to respect and treat the water gently so that the consistency of the original substance is retained and preserved,” Mr Cummins said. Ian Cummins is already successfully marketing his innovative regeneration systems, achieving unprecedented aquaculture production levels and water revitalisation. With such innovative products and unprecedented success, Cumminscorp now proudly lays claim to a workforce of 66 with an estimated 750 shareholders and collectively, has raised a significant proportion of its start up capital

54 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

through a staged release of three Offer Information Statements. The Cumminscorp team presides at the company’s new premises at Gaven, Queensland. This larger site allows the company to efficiently and effectively conduct all extensive research and development, testing and manufacturing activities. Cumminscorp is currently working with Australian and international governments such as Singapore and Vietnam for the support and introduction of its manufacturing plants and future adoption of its exclusively patented technologies. Ecologists, government ministers, leading aquaculture authorities and shareholders both in Australia and overseas are enthusiastic about the consistent results already achieved by Cumminscorp. “Ian Cummins and his team have produced an incredibly clean and efficient system, which is of major importance to the aquaculture sector but its greatest potential value to humanity in the future is its ability to remediate water on a large scale” Dr Riggert also said. Cumminscorp are currently under-


TECHNOLOGY

taking a compliance listing to enable a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in the immediate future. Prior to Christmas 2005, Cumminscorp will be proceeding with a private international capital raising in the order of $15 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 20 million to progress and realise its plans for the short to medium term. The Company has also recently applied for an Australian Provisional Patent in respect of improvement to its water treatment apparatus for treating and clarifying water. These patents will also protect against reverse engineering and safeguard the future financial returns to its shareholder base. Cumminscorp will maintain its focus on research and development, so that it can innovate and enhance its systems and technology and position itself to take advantage of the growing demand for aquaculture systems. The company is experiencing phenomenal growth and is well-positioned to harness the aquaculture industry, one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The industry is growing at more than ten percent per annum worldwide

and has grown more than fourteen percent per annum in Australia since 1991. The Australian aquaculture industry represents 30% of the gross value of Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fishery production. The future of Cumminscorp, the innovative C-Box and water regeneration systems is exciting. Their efficient, cost effective and environmentally sound technologies are an essential

supplement and support to any farm, property or business with the potential to become the predominant supplier of seafood both globally and in Australia.

For further information please call the team at Cumminscorp on Freecall No: 1300 367 172 (or 07 5514 4000); Email: info@cumminscorp.com.au

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 55


TECHNOLOGY

Tooltech powers amazing oyster growth – Washington State USA One of the world’s largest and comprehensive shellfish farming companies fourth generation Taylor Shellfish headquartered in Washington State USA, is experiencing unprecedented oyster growth at their large (87 million) clam farm at Dosewallips on the Hood Canal south of Seattle. For some time Taylors have been growing out large marketable European Flat oysters in just eighteen months at their Samish Bay farm north of Seattle, using the Tooltech Aquapurse®. Earlier this year they decided to trial oysters at the Dosewallips clam farm, once again using the 8mm mesh Aquapurse®, suspended intertidally between longlines. Although predominately Triploid Pacific, they also commenced farming some Virginica, Kumomoto and Belon Flat as well on this farm. The Triploid Pacific are placed in the Aquapurse® at 1/2” (160 for Pacifics), and in just three to three and a half months, during Spring/Summer, they have grown to 3” – 3 1/2”. They are then removed and placed on the clam farm beach for one month to harden and lose the soft fringe shell. They are then able to be harvested to currently satisfy a very demanding market. Whilst not completely sure as to the reasons for such phenomenally fast growth on this slow growing clam area, Taylor farm management do greatly credit the use of the versatile Aquapurse® for contributing to this extraordinary growth. They find the Australian designed unit are very easy to handle – attach and detach from the longlines, hold a large volume of all oyster species, and importantly nest very well on the farm workboats.

For further information contact: Reg Breakwell at Tooltech P/L Tel: 07 3271 1755 or email: tooltech@tooltechservices.com.au 56 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006


TECHNOLOGY

Arvo-Tec Feeders Arvo-Tec is a company based in Finland that is using modern technology to improve the way feeders are used in Aquaculture, having spent several years developing computer-based control systems, to reduce labor and feeding costs, which ultimately benefit the grower. Arvo-Tec have chosen Aquasonic Pty Ltd to represent, supply and support their products in Australia & New Zealand. Arvo-Tec T Drum 2000 Feeder The Arvo-Tec drum feeder is one of the most accurate feeders ever made. It is suitable for fry in hatchery facilities , through to larger grow-out of fish in ponds, tanks and cages. The hoppers are available in 1, 6 & 10 Litre transparent models for smaller situations and 50, 150 and 350L white hoppers for larger applications. It has an accuracy of 98% which equates to less waste and increased feed conversion. The hoppers can handle pellet sizes of 0.3-6mm which covers a large variety of species and life stages. Controllers are also available for 8, 16, 24 or 32 feeders and can be linked back to a central computer. The software available with the system also allows pH, DO, temp and other parameters to be mapped over time and can also be used to change the amount of food going into each tank. For exam-

ple, if your Dissolved oxygen levels are low, the user can program the feeder not to feed until levels become higher again. Robotic Feeding System The Arvo-Tec robot feeding system is designed for large systems in excess of 30 tanks. The robot moves on a raised track and is guided by magnets. The feeder moves to each individual tank and feeds a specific amount specified by a sophisticated PC computer controller. This PC based program which aids the robotic feeder, assimilates data on oxygen levels and temperature of incoming water and compensates the feeding rate accordingly. The program is designed, so the farmer can add more data as he becomes more experienced, to gain a better overall picture of

changes in feeding patterns. This equates to reduced waste and feeding costs which ultimately benefit the farmer. Based on a decentralized concept, where the control computers are placed near the devices themselves, the control computers are all linked and connected to a communication cable. All alarm systems and monitoring can be linked to this system so that it is all centralized. The entire system can be operated from a remote laptop using a modem.

If you would like any information on the Arvo-Tec range of feeders please contact Aquasonic Pty Ltd. Ph: 02 65864933; Email: sales@aquasonic.com.au

aquatic anaesthetic Aquatic Diagnostic Services Int. P/L (ADSI) is pleased to announce a major price reduction in the aquatic anaesthetic, AQUI-S®. In it’s 10th anniversary year, ADSI has renewed it’s 5 year distribution agreement with AQUI-S NZ Ltd, to continue to bring to the Australian market the only aquatic

anaesthetic approved by APVMA. AQUI-S® has a nil with-holding period, making it perfect to be used for rested harvesting, live transport, spawning etc. Due to the strong demand of AQUI-S® in Australia, ADSI is pleased to be able to offer significant price reductions to the farmer.

For further information on AQUI-S or any of our other products email dhudson@hypermax.net.au or call Dr Darryl Hudson @ ADSI on 0409727853 or fax an order to 07 33526689.

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 57


FISHENEWS

ABALONE ABALONE FARMS AUSTRALIA Miles Cropp and his father decided to make the move from potato and poppy farming to abalone farming in 1985. Two years later they began building the 660 tanks on 9ha at Bicheno to create Abalone farms Australia. There are now 4 million green-lip abalone, sized from 0.25mm to 120mm. Around 3.5 years back First Tasmanian Investments bought into the business as an equity partner. The business exports three times more fish than it sells locally, though Mr Cropp expects there to be a 50/50 ratio as home sales develop. The farm's abalone graze outdoors in shallow tanks, providing a taste experience described by Japanese buyers as very close to the wild abalone â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but since they are smaller, they are more tender. The export abalone are quickly chilled to -20 Celsius in salted water, which doesn't freeze them, then stored in a blast freezer. The process results in chefs finding them very difficult to distinguish from fresh produce. Source: Elaine Reeves in the Hobart Mercury (28/9/2005).

ELLISTON COMMUNITY VISITED BY FISHWATCH STAFF Fishwatch Officers from Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA) are visiting Elliston to speak with citizens concerned about the environmental impacts of the new offshore abalone farm. Although Friends of the Elliston Environment Group reported on 5 September that at least 11 more baskets had been located between the Anxious Bay boat ramp and Lovers Rocks, all of those washed away from the farm during rough weather had been recovered by 8 September. However, Group members still question PIRSA's regulation of the farm. The agency has confirmed that no Fisheries officers have visited the farm. PIRSA's Aquaculture executive director Ian Nightingale reminds those with concerns on environmental impacts that, while PIRSA is interested in hearing resident's comments, there are strict conditions restricting community access to aquaculture leases. He's travelling around the state speaking to fish farm operators about new licence conditions. Source: Port Lincoln Times (8/9/2005); West Coast Sentinel (8/9/2005).

POOR RELIABILITY FROM WESTERN POWER Bayside Abalone located at Bremer Bay started operations five years ago â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and since that time has experienced difficulties because of an unreliable power supply. Owner Barry Hall states that over the period, regular power failures have cost the operation many thousands of dollars. He observes that, while the service supplier Western Power recently spent $5 million on a new power station, and 58 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006


FISHENEWS

with the introduction of a wind farm, the body still cannot sustain a steady, regular supply. There are claims Western Power is experiencing generation costs using diesel fuel to be greater than the prices charged for supply, and are therefore working to limit demand development. Source: Rachel Eaton in the Albany Advertiser (13/9/2005).

BARRAMUNDI ESCAPE OF 35,000 BARRAMUNDI The NT's largest barramundi producer, Marine Harvest, recently lost 35,000 barramundi valued at $500,000 – 100 tonnes of fish. The escape occurred when the old farm cage system broke during strong spring tides. Attempts are being made to recover the fish. The company, which still has 1000 tonnes held in a newer part of the farm, is considering moving its operation to the other side of Bathurst Island, where currents are slower. Source: North West Star (28/9/2005); Northern Territory News (27/9/2005).

HUMPTY DOO BARRAMUNDI CRACKS THE $1 MILLION Last year the NT's Humpty Doo Barramundi had a $1 million dollar turnover, producing 130 tonnes of 3 kilo-plus barramundi. All of the produce went to top SA restaurants – previously one-third would have gone overseas. However the Australian market is growing. The business owners, Julii Tyson and Bob Richards, believe that the increasing Australian market is as a result of greater interest in eating fish, including for health reasons, and because restaurants want an assured supply of product – something which can be achieved by farmers. Humpty Doo Barramundi supplied fish for the wedding banquet of the Crown Prince of Brunei in 2004. Source: Nigel Adam in the Northern Territory News (30/9/2005).

BIG BARRAMUNDI REFLECT HATCHERY SKILLS Lake Awoonga anglers are reporting outstanding catches of barramundi with some fish taken weighing 30 kilos. This outcome reflects the skill and dedication of the hatchery people who have been producing fingerlings to stock Lake Awoonga and other water bodies around the state. The nine-year-old program is amazingly successful. Source: Chris Pammenter in the Gladstone Observer (17/9/2005).

AUSTRALIS LOOKING GOOD Now producing some 50,000 barramundi meals a month for US and Canadian diners, Australis Aquaculture is predicting its US operation will achieve 412 tonnes this financial year. The company has announced in its September financial report a loss of $1.485 million, which it said reflected the start-up phase of the company and establishment of the US business – Australis was floated in 2004. In 2005 the company bought the largest indoor aquaculture facility in the US and stocked it with barramundi fingerlings flown from Australia. The first American-grown barramundi became available in March and sales are growing strongly, nearing $250,000 for

each month. There are plans to expand the US plant to take production from 700 tonnes to 1000 tonnes annually. Source: Foodweek (23/9/2005).

THE FIRST 13 TONNE Marine Produce Australia advises it plans to produce its first 13 tonnes of barramundi from the Cone Bay facility by the middle of 2006. Product will go to international retail outlets. The company sources fingerlings from the Kimberley College of TAFE in Broome. Source: Kimberley Times (22/9/2005).

NORTHERN TERRITORY WINNERS The Marine Harvest Barramundi Farm on Tiwi Island, and the Humpty Doo Barramundi Farm, each won awards at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. They out-competed other entrants, with best fillets and best plate-sized fish. Source: Northern Territory News (10/9/2005).

M U R R AY C O D SUCCESSFUL NATURAL MURRAY COD CAPTIVE SPAWNING In what's believed to be a world first, Murray Cod have spawned naturally in captivity. Gwen Gilson and her son Richard arranged the right conditions to cause a 3 kilo female to drop around 10,00 eggs on the tank floor, and for the 5 kilo male to fertilise them. The male was borrowed from Noosa Council's Lake Macdonald hatchery, and the female was caught from a stocked dam by Ms Gilson. The female spawned naturally six days after being placed in the 4,000L tank. The Gilsons, from Boreen Point, will continue trialing the conditions with different pairs of fish, eventually passing their data on to the Department of Primary Industries. However, an immediate concern is keeping the hatchlings alive. Source: Frank Wilkie in the Noosa News (30/9/2005).

SNOBS CREEK SCIENTIST GIVEN RECOGNITION Dr Brett Ingram has been recognised as one of two scientists evidencing as outstanding examples of the wealth of scientific talent within the Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Dr Ingram conducts his work at the DPI Snobs Creek facility where he's investigating sustainable aquaculture production techniques for the Murray Cod. The other scientist, Ms Corina Horstra is engaged in research on potatoes. Source: Yea Chronicle (7/9/2005).

MUSSELS AUTOMATED MUSSEL DE-BEARDING A first for Australia – Spring Bay Seafoods at Triabunna has a machine which removes the beard from mussels. The beard is mechanically removed before the mussel is cleaned, graded and packed. The company invested $300,000 in the project, on research and development, and $200,000 for the equipment, produced in New Zealand. Spring Bay Seafoods operDecember/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 59


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ates one of the largest mussel farms in Australia. In August it harvested 80 tonnes, and expects to produce 1000 tonnes annually by 2007. The State Government has provided $30,000 to support the company's interest in establishing a mussel processing facility at Triabunna. Spring Bay Seafood has also received help for the venture from both State and Federal Governments, under the New Industry Development Program. Source: Phil Beck in the Hobart Mercury (10/9/2005).

O T H E R C R U S TA C E A N S BOWEN AQUACULTURE CENTRE INCHES ALONG Although it starts and stops, work on the mud crab farm south of Bowen on Yeates Creek is progressing. The venture, by the Bowen Aquaculture Centre, is in preparation for major construction in 2006. Clearing has been followed by earthworks activity, slowed somewhat by rock encountered in the area. The first construction stage will result in the crab farm, water treatment system, work areas and an administration complex. Stage two will result in a 50,000 tonne barramundi farm and processing factory. Work is expected to take some 18 months. Plans are to produce 880 tonnes of softshell crabs each year, with 560 tonnes of barramundi. There'll be employment for 45 people.

SUSTAINABLE REGIONS FUNDING FOR CRAB FARM Paul Neville, the Federal Member for Hinkler, has signed off on a Sustainable Regions funding grant of $550,000 to allow Coral Coast Mariculture to begin pond construction for a soft shell crab farm. The facility, at Bundaberg Port, will be built in three stages, costing a total of $3.5 million. When all three stages are finished â&#x20AC;&#x201C; possibly taking three years â&#x20AC;&#x201C; crabs could be supplied for as many as 150 restaurants. On completion of stage three 55 jobs could be created and 1.3 million crabs produced annually with a value of $5 million. The potential world market for the delicacy is estimated at $1 billion. Source: News Mail (5/10/2005).

MINISTER VISITS QUEENSLAND SEA SCALLOPS Chris Cummins, Small Business Minister, enjoyed an interesting visit to the Queensland Sea Scallops (QSS) facility at Bundaberg recently. He made a tour of the operation and found out how it's expected to bring in around $130 million in export dollars to the State. QSS cultivates sea scallop larvae to grow out at sites in Hervey Bay. On reaching full potential there are plans for some 1500 people to find employment. Things will become exciting for QSS in 2006, and full potential is expected by 2012. Source: News Mail (20/9/2005).

Source: Charles Cepulis in the Bowen Independent (19/10/2005).

BUG FARM PROPOSAL UNDER ATTACK AGAIN The NSW shadow environment minister Michael Richardson has described the proposed Moreton Bay bug farm at Chinderah as 'an environmental disaster in waiting'. He said it was a massive project by any standards and has attacked the NSW Government and Labor MP Neville Newell for supporting it without better environmental assessment. It would, he said, provide employment for only a handful of people but have the potential to impact on thousands. He made his comments following a visit to the site of the venture with opponents of the scheme. Mr Richardson called for a full environmental impact study before the project commences. Opponents claim the farm will have a number of impacts including bad smells, worsening of flooding, and the dumping of 1.8 million litres of untreated effluent into the ocean at Kingston every day. Source: Peter Caton in the Daily News (8/10/2005).

MANINGRIDA MUD CRABS A pilot project growing out mud crabs has been established at Maningrida, by the traditional owners and the Djelk Rangers. It's the first ever indigenous mud crab farm. Some 500 crablets have been placed on the farm. Operations will be supported by officers from the Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines. If successful the project could lead to the establishment of similar ventures in other NT communities. Crabs will be raised in a protected, netted area which is partly in mangroves and partly in water, allowing for lowintensity farming. The crablets were produced at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre from Maningrida crab eggs. Source: Northern Territory News (14/10/2005); Territory News (14/10/2005).

60 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

O T H E R F R E S H W AT E R F I S H FUNDS FOR FINGERLINGS TO STOCK LAKE FRED TRITTON The Mount Iza Townsville Economic Zone is to provide $5000 to the Richmond Fish Stocking Group, allowing the body to purchase fingerlings to be stocked into Lake Fred Tritton. The intent is to boost recreational fishing in the area, by both tourists and locals. Source: North West Star (26/10/2005).

NEW HATCHERY PLANS BY NOVEMBER'S END Outback at Isa and the Mount Isa Fish Stocking group are working together to finalise plans by the end of November allowing work to begin on a fish hatchery in March 2006. The hatchery will be used to produce local native freshwater fish and to grow out barramundi. Plans for a tourism component alongside the facility are being considered. Source: Jennifer O'Reilly in the North West Star (24/10/2005).

TROUT AND SALMON BREEDING 'IN-HOUSE' AGAIN Speaking during a tour of the Department of Primary Industry's fish breeding and research facility at Snobs Creek, the Minister for Agriculture Bob Cameron announced that the production of trout and salmon for fish stocking had been brought back 'in-house', boosting the program. Source: Mansfield Courier (7/9/2005).

UARAH FISHERIES Operating since 1977, Uarah Fisheries is at Grong Grong north-west of Wagga Wagga. The farm uses abundant


FISHENEWS

groundwater to sustain 56 ponds, a hatchery and a laboratory. It's the largest commercial native fish hatchery in southeastern Australia. Owner Bruce Malcolm pioneered the technology for the commercial production of Murray Cod towards the end of the 1980s, and was a leader in the silver perch industry. The farm produces 10 tonnes of Murray Cod annually, which is 20 per cent of the farm's production. The farm's core business is fingerling production for other commercial growers and re-stockers. Source: Lindsay Hayes in the Weekly Times (7/9/2005).

OTHER MARINE FISH CLEAN SEAS GETS TWO NEW FACES There are two new directors at Clean Seas aquaculture. Sir Tipene O'Regan was the founding chairman of the Treaty Of Waitangi Fisheries Commission and of the Sealord Group of Companies. Ian McLachlan was a former Howard Government minister and former president of the National Farmers' Federation. Source: Herald Sun (19/10/2005).

NEW PETITION AGAINST PROPOSED TUNA FARM At the Esperance Show, local environmental group Vive le Recherche launched a new petition against the proposed M G Kailis tuna farm. The petition calls on the State Government to develop a policy regarding aquaculture in marine reserves and near the A-class reserves of the Recherche Archipelago. It will eventually be submitted to both houses of State Parliament. During the two days of the Show more than 700 signatures were collected. Source: Esperance Express (25/10/2005).

A BIG RETURN FROM STOCKING MANGROVE JACK The Gladstone Area Water Board Fish Hatchery has been releasing mangrove jack into Lake Awoonga since 2001 – in total a little over 13,000 fish have been placed. While there have commonly been unverified reports of legal-sized fish being taken, recently one was photographed before release. The 490mm fish was estimated to weigh 2.5k. Opinion is it was one of the original fingerlings stocked. Source: Gladstone Observer (11/10/2005).

KAILIS COMMUNITY REFERENCE GROUP Six months after appointing a chairman, the Esperance Tuna Farm proponent M G Kailis is to announce the identities of the representatives forming its community reference group. The company invited various bodies and agencies to submit nominations for the group earlier this year, and submissions from the general community closed off at the beginning of October. An M G Kailis spokesman advises community nominees were evenly divided between those totally opposed to the proposal and those prepared to consider all the information. The company is awaiting comment from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on preliminary information supplied to the agency concerning its proposed two-year tuna farm

trial in the Recherche Archipelago. When the EPA response is at hand the company will consult with the community group prior to developing a project scoping document. MG Kailis is considering increasing the group size to 14 in an effort to avoid disappointing keen nominees. There has been considerable community opposition to the farm proposal and some of the opponents claim that forming a community reference group is not what the company should be doing. Rather M G Kailis should be collecting data on wildlife. The group will be chaired by Roe MLA Graham Jacobs. If approved the farm will not begin trials before the end of next year. Source: Susan Bower in the Kalgoorlie Miner (6/10/2005).

GOVERNMENT CASTIGATED OVER TUNA STOCKS The Federal Government has been criticised by the Australian Democrats for ignoring advice from its own scientific committee and refusing to list southern bluefin tuna as a threatened species. It's claimed Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has stated that listing the fish as a threatened species 'would be detrimental to its survival'. Port Lincoln tuna farmers argue the stocks in the Great Australian Bight as plentiful as ever with companies catching their quota in a matter of days. The Democrats claim the Government's Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) found as little as three per cent of the stock known to exist in 1960 remains. To find out more go to http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/southern-bluefin-tuna-tuna.html. Source: Port Lincoln Times (22/9/2005).

IMPORTANT CHINESE VISITOR High-level Chinese aquaculture official Professor Li Xiaochuan recently visited Port Lincoln's tuna farms as the guest of local aquaculture researcher David Padula, who coordinates the Food Safety Program for the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI). Professor Li's visit will help the SA tuna industry prepare for the Chinese export market – he's the vice director of China's National Centre for Quality Supervision and Testing of Aquatic Products. Professor Li is based at the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute in Qingdao. An outcome of the visit is the possibility of joint research with SA, possibly leading to development of products for the Chinese market. SARDI representatives have been invited to China in November to speak at an international seafood conference on the work being done to help SA exporters to comply with a range of overseas regulations. Tuna industry spokesman Brian Jeffries observes that, even though 97 per cent of Australia's southern bluefin tuna is exported to Japan, markets such as China were important. However it's necessary to avoid a repeat of the United States experience, where aggressive marketing opened the market to farmed tuna – and it was now exploited by Mexican rather than Australian product. Source: Port Lincoln Times (20/9/2005).

PETUNA SEAFOODS Petuna Seafoods has been around for more than 40 years, and has an enviable business reputation. From a beginning as a small lobster fishing operation, the business now employs over 150 people in the farming, fishing and processing areas, December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 61


FISHENEWS

dealing with nine seafood species, and supplying both locally and internationally. The flagship farmed product is Petuna ocean trout, sold to restaurants in Sydney and New York. They're grown to 3 kilos and then hot-smoked, head-on gilled and gutted or processed into smoked sides, fillets, loins or portions. The company exports some 1.2 tonnes of fresh ocean trout each week to the US. Petuna Seafoods has another speciality, farmed Atlantic salmon, sought after in Japan. Currently the company is receiving considerable assistant from the Department of Economic Development, investigating a venture to develop the culture of saltwater charr – a new aquaculture species. Source: Launceston Examiner (2/10/2005).

PERMIT FOR SPONGE AQUACULTURE RESEARCH The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has been issued a permit by the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority to pursue a research program on sponge aquaculture in the Palm group of islands. The permit is valid until August 2007. AIMS has pioneered sponge farming science and technology. Source: Townsville Bulletin (14/9/2005).

FARMED MULLOWAY NOW EXPORTED Hagen Stehr is Australia's only mulloway farmer and, after four years of farming the fish, he's now exporting them to New York, Boston, Las Vegas, London and Paris. He chose to farm mulloway knowing the wildcatch was overfished, and used his knowledge of tuna-farming to commercialise farming the species. His kingfish and mulloway were served at the recent Danish Royal Wedding. Source: Australian (13/9/2005).

FUNDING FOR TUNA BREEDING Clean Seas Aquaculture has been awarded $4.1 million under the Commercial Ready and Commercialising Emerging Technologies program (COMET) to fund work on southern bluefin tuna breeding. The money will allow the Port Lincoln company to develop a system for the regular production of tuna eggs and the growth of fingerlings in a land-based facility at Arno Bay. Although wild tuna stocks are diminishing through over-fishing, most tuna farmers – who catch wildstock to ranch – are resistant to the idea of rearing juveniles, for a range of economic reasons. Source: Stan Gorton in the Port Lincoln Times (8/9/2005).

TUNA FARMING AND SHARKS Stephen Hood is the compliance and project manager for the MG Kailis Group and he addresses an issue raised by the Vive le Recherche environmental group which is opposed to establishment of a tuna farm in the Recherche Archipelago. The group believes that operation of a tuna farm will attract sharks to the area, drawn by the vibrations of the tuna and from the blood and offal produced during harvesting. Mr Hood observes that all of the blood and offal created during Kailis activities is brought on shore for processing. There have been issues recently associated with shark attacks on humans near beaches in SA. Source: Louise Bettison in the Esperance Express (8/9/2005).

62 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

OYSTERS OYSTER INDUSTRY MEETINGS IN NSW About thirty oyster farmers met recently in Pambula to take part in one of a series of closed forums to discuss water quality in relation to the industry. The meetings, a joint initiative of the NSW Farmers Association and the Oyster Farmers Association, have been occurring in various coastal towns in NSW. The intention is to allow farmers and other stakeholders to exchange information on water quality testing, problem areas, funding obstacles, and effects on the local community. Others in attendance included representatives from the NSW Food Authority and the Bega Shire Council. Of major concern is that the oyster industry is being left with sole responsibility for monitoring water quality, which is a community issue. Source: Bega District News (14/10/2005).

COWELL AREA SCHOOL OYSTER FARM A BOON FOR STUDENTS The Cowell Area School's oyster farm on the Eyre Peninsula is the only school-owned oyster farm in the world. It's evidencing as a great success as an aid for students to train as oyster farmers. The farm started in the 1990s with one line of oysters and has trained a number of people who are now farmers – nine more are currently training for the seafood sector. The school program provides Certificate 1 and 2 in seafood operations for Year 10, 11 and 12 students. The school now has 70,000 oysters on the lease and intends marketing 150,000 annually. The crop sells readily in Japan, sometimes fetching $100 for 12 oysters. The profits go into the farm operation and aquaculture program. Source: Nigel Austin in the Adelaide Advertiser (8/10/2005).

FROM ABALONE TO OYSTERS The South Australian Oyster Hatchery at Louth Bay has switched from abalone and now only produces oysters. The company's intention is to continue what has been rapid growth of the State's oyster production by beginning to export to large markets such as China. Hatchery coordinator Matthew Wilsen is hoping the operation's links with abalone exporters – the Australian Southern Seafood Group – will facilitate doing business with China. It's known that locallygrown Pacific oysters can survive for up to seven days, while when they are 'fresh' their shelf life is around two days. Thus, since there's plenty of labour available in China, it's logical to export live oysters. However growth in the industry is expected to be at a slower rate than the 10 to 15 per cent experienced in recent years. Source: West Coast Sentinel (29/9/2005).

THE BUSINESS OF PEARLS Australia has two stock-market-listed pearl producers, Atlas Pacific and Atlantic. Atlas Pacific – which farms in Bali – made a net profit of $1.2 million in 2003 and a net loss of $1.5 million in 2004. More recently it made a net profit of $500,000 for the half-year to June 2005, on sales revenue of


FISHENEWS

$3.7 million. That's 15 per cent up on the previous period. The reason, says a company spokesman, is more pearls of better quality, with better prices. The company intends boosting income by introducing tourist-based marketing. The company Atlantic, currently developing a pearl farm in Myanmar, has made losses of more than $1.4 million in both 2003 and 2004. In 2005 sales revenue was $1.2 million. The operation is dependent on financial support from chairman Joe Rotondella. He has an 86 per cent shareholding. Source: Business News (15/9/2005).

NEW OYSTER BASKET A WINNER Katie McCann grew up farming oysters with her family, fourth generation oyster farmers. Although she now works in the motor industry, she's designed and proved a new type of oyster cage. It's plastic and it floats. The idea came to her when she was thinking about how severe weather or a king tide would cause the conventional baskets to slip up to one end of the line, causing the oysters to become stunted. The new cage is cylindrical and has foam flotation attached. Oysters can spread out through the new cage. The family tried 50 cages initially with success, then 1200. Now they have 3000, since the system's effectiveness has allowed the business to double in size. The cages are non-toxic and the foam doesn't break down. Ms McCann, 25, won the Light Bulb category in the NSW Government's Young Business Idol Pitching Competition for her efforts. Source: Frances Rand in the South Coast Register (28/9/2005).

URGENT REVIEW OF NSW SHELLFISH PROGRAM REQUESTED In the Hastings and Camden Haven areas, oyster farmers are requesting an urgent review of the poorly-constructed cost-sharing arrangements for the NSW Shellfish Program. The farmers believe the current arrangements will see onethird of farmers quitting the industry. The NSW government has cut back its financial contribution for water quality monitoring from $900,000 annually to $400,000. It's estimated oyster growers will be required to contribute 10 per cent of the total industry's worth, some $254,000 spread across 40 growers, to support the program. The Healthy Rivers Commission has made comment on the link between oysterfriendly growing rivers and general catchment health.

both the local and Tasmanian hatcheries created a severe spat shortage. However, though the situation has stabilised and supplies are available, the Tasmanian company Shellfish Culture will still construct the new facility at Moonlight Bay. The company is commencing the second phase of construction, including algal culture systems and nursery areas. Plans are to import even smaller spat to be grown in the new hatchery, with construction continuing from January to June. At that point broodstock will be introduced and full production reached. The company is also focusing on production of triploid (sterile) oysters which offer the advantage of not spawning in summer. Source: Eyre Peninsula Tribune (29/9/2005).

PEARL THIEVES STRIKE It's claimed inside knowledge was needed to carry out a $500,000 pearl robbery from Clipper Pearl's Kimberley farm when some 300 pearls were stolen. The thieves stole the panels on which the pearl oysters were growing, using a boat to reach the area and probably diving equipment to reach the arrays – suspended 6 metres beneath the surface. Although only recently discovered, the theft is thought to have occurred at the beginning of August. It will be a risky business selling the pearls, since Clipper Pearl product is noted for the special characteristics of its south sea pearls, renowned for their pink or champagne tinge and absence of blemishes. The company was targeted two years ago when eight of their panels were stolen, each carrying 8-10 oysters. Clipper Pearls has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who carried out the most recent theft. Source: Courier Mail (19/9/2005); Nick Taylor in the Sunday Times (18/9/2005).

$11 MILLION PRODUCTION – NO MORE PERMITS Wallis Lake's oyster production has a value of $11 million as of 2004, and the lake is at maximum production capacity – no more oyster permits will be granted. However, new production methods may mean more oysters could be produced. Source: Manning River Times (2/9/2005).

50 MILLION OYSTERS IN 2005 It's expected SA could produce 50 million oysters this year with the State's oyster industry at its strongest level ever. The product value would be $20 million. For the past seven years production has increased 20 per cent each year. Some 137 oyster growers reap an average of $4.90 for each dozen oysters they produce.

PREDICTIONS OF A ONE-THIRD DEPARTURE If adequate funding for the NSW Shellfish Program isn't resumed, it's been predicted one third of the oyster farmers in the Hastings and Camden Haven areas will leave the industry. The NSW government has reduced its funding for the program from $900,000 each year to $400,000, expecting individual growers to make up the difference. Chances are some growers will quit – which will mean that the remaining farmers will be forced to pay even more. Estimated costs for the 40 local farmers is $245,000, equivalent to 10 per cent of the value of the industry.

Source: Matt Williams in the Adelaide Advertiser (21/9/2005).

Source: Lisa Burns in the Port Macquarie News (9/9/2005).

MOONLIGHT BAY OYSTER HATCHERY CONSTRUCTION DELAYED Improved supplies of juvenile oysters have helped delay construction of an additional oyster hatchery at Moonlight Bay on the Eyre Peninsula. In 2004 production problems at

QX-RESISTANT OYSTERS The Select Oyster Company has distributed 7 million QXresistant oysters to growers in NSW and southern Queensland. The oysters have been marked and will be studied as they mature. The QX disease has all but destroyed growing

Source: Camden Haven Courier (21/9/2005).

December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 63


FISHENEWS

communities in the Georges and Hawkesbury Rivers. While the disease has been detected in some other areas, it's not known what causes it to become active. Where the disease has emerged in southern Queensland, and in NSW's Tweed, Clarence and Richmond Rivers, it has reduced oyster production by 60 per cent. Source: Eden Imlay Magnet (8/9/2005).

AQUACULTURE PARK FOR STANSBURY A local group of oyster growers has taken the first steps to establishing an aquaculture park at Stansbury. Spokesman Greg Phillips of Dalrymple Oysters advises the time has come for growers to have a designated land base. The District Council of Yorke Peninsula has given planning and development approval for the park. The notion grew from discussion amongst growers. Some 10 acres of land on the southern town outskirts have been pinpointed for the site, divided into nine allotments. Six oyster growers form the group, including Dalrymple Oysters, Southern Yorke Oysters, Oyster Bay Shellfish, and the McDonald, Emery and Lockwood families. There's room for growth in the existing industry based on an estimate that only 25 per cent of the existing leases are being used. The next step in developing the park is costing building on the allotments. Costing is expected to be completed by the end of September. Source: Jenny Oldland in the Yorke Peninsula Country Times – Kadina (6/9/2005).

PRAWNS BANANA PRAWNS AT KAAC The Kimberley Aquaculture Aboriginal Corporation (KAAC) made its first harvest in April this year, producing 4.5 tonnes of black tiger prawns from the Derby hatchery with an average size of 35 to 45gm. KAAC is experienced difficulties locating black tiger prawn breeding stock in Joseph Bonaparte Gulf to use to produce a second harvest, and is instead searching the Exmouth area for banana prawn breeding stock. A final decision will be made soon once stock samples have been assessed. The black tiger prawn harvest was the first of its kind in the Kimberley. Source: Kimberley Times (6/10/2005).

REDCLAW DIVERSIFICATION INTO RED CLAW Farmers Bernadette and John Gamlin decided to take on red claw farming after some years in cane and cattle farming. They built ponds on second-class land and used water classed as poor quality for conventional farming, from a bore. The original 2000 stock came from the Walkaman Aquaculture Resources Centre. While currently there are seven aerated ponds, plans are for up to 30. The Gamlins have sold 400kg of produce for as much as $20 a kilo and now have some 30,000 red claw on site. Source: News Mail (7/10/2005).

64 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

RED CLAW FARMS IN THE WIDE BAY AREA There are a number of people interested in developing red claw farms in the Wide Bay region of Queensland. There are two farmers interested at Gin Gin; an existing six-pond farm; an Invicta couple have 50 ponds. Many others are showing interest in red claw farming. The secretary of the Bundaberg and District Crayfish Association advises the Wide Bay temperatures and its latitude allow for the crayfish to breed twice or three times each year. Source: Greg Chapman in the News Mail (8/10/2005).

SALMON VACCINE AGAINST YERSINIOSIS Scientists at the Department of Primary Industries, Water and the Environment's Fish Health Unit have developed a vaccine to address the problem of Yersiniosis in salmonids. Since 1986 the disease has been an ongoing problem for the six major fish farms in Tasmania. When attacked by the disorder, fish acquire a form of blood poisoning and gradually die. The bacteria causing the problem occur naturally in river water, which is supplied to fish hatchery tanks, and is becoming an increasing problem for hatcheries for reasons not understood. It is known that increased water temperatures, and stress in fish as a result of crowding them can make the problem more likely to occur. The vaccine has been trialed for the past six months in the SALTAS hatchery – the largest in the State – on 268,000 fish, all of which are still alive. The vaccine can be injected into individual fish, which is time-consuming, or fish can be bathed in a solution of the material and take up the vaccine through their gills. During the trial, fish were bathed when they were 5gm and again when they were 10gm. Results to date suggest the fish are fully protected. Approval for use of the vaccine will now be sought from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, after which it will be necessary to arrange an appropriate manufacturing and distribution system. Source: Launceston Examiner (15/10/2005).

SALMONIDS IN TASMANIA There are now six salmon and trout hatcheries operating in various parts of Tasmania, operated by six companies. Nine companies operate salmon farms in the State. Most farms are in the south-east, especially in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the Huon River. Most of the State's ocean trout is farmed in Macquarie Harbour. Source DPIWE in the Launceston Examiner (27/9/2005).

SALMON SEE THE LIGHT Mark Porter is a marine biologist with the school of Aquaculture in Tasmania – a permanent member of staff, with a lectureship. His work on salmon is estimated to be saving the State's salmon industry $2.5 million annually, by convincing the fish that summer has developed. This is done by bathing the caged fish in artificial light. The apparent change advances the summer season and prevents the fish from


FISHENEWS

maturing when they would normally do so. The outcomes are the fish flesh stays a good red and the fish don't take a black shade. All maturation is stopped until the following year, and the fish will be harvested by that time. Effectively under normal circumstances the farms get 30 per cent maturation. When the lighting system is used the percentage drops to 2.5 to 3 per cent with a 30 per cent increase in growth rate. No chemicals or hormones are used. The work is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Co-operative Research Council of Tasmania, with close cooperation with the Tasmanian Salmon Growers Association. Source: Jennifer Crawley in the Tasmanian Country (16/9/2005).

FLOODING CAUSES STOCK LOSS Salmon farmers Angelika and Ziggy Pyka were recently caught out when their farm's water supply intake was blocked by gravel displaced as a result of an increase in the water level of Western Creek following a rainstorm. Around 10,000 fish – about half the farm stock – were destroyed. However business continues as normal with the only setback being that 41 South Aquaculture's move into interstate fish sales will be delayed by a year or more. The Pyka's hand-made smoked salmon rillettes recently became joint winners at the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania's national fine food awards. Source: Bruce Mounster in the Tasmanian Country (9/9/2005).

TROUT SECOND TROUT HARVEST AT WAKOOL For the second time, rainbow trout grown in saline groundwater as part of trials at the Inland Saline Aquaculture Centre at Wakool are being harvested. They'll be available locally from various outlets in the area. Selling at $14 per kilo, the fish will be available for a month, or until supplies run out – a harvest of 300 kilos is expected. This year a change to the feeding regime has resulted in larger fish with a pinker flesh similar to Atlantic salmon. The fish has emerged from the trials as the most suitable species for inland saline aquaculture, with potential for commercial production. Water is sourced from the Wakool Tullakool Sub-Surface drainage Scheme. The project is operated by the Department of Primary Industries in conjunction with Murray Irrigation Limited. Source: Riverine Herald (26/10/2005); Swan Hill Guardian (26/10/2005).

RAINBOW TROUT IN QUEENSLAND? Roy Finlay believes he's the only person in Queensland with a licence to farm rainbow trout. His property at Park Ridge South has refrigerated and recycled pools in which the temperature is sustained at between 16 and 22 Celsius, perfect for trout. Following on less than adequate results with barramundi starting seven years back, he tried trout and made it work. Tasmanian-supplied trout eggs are nurtured until after around 14 months they reach 500-700gm, with some reaching a kilo or more. Roy is hoping to break into the greater Brisbane restaurant market. He can supply 300 to 500

fish daily, including delivery. And for those with the inclination, he'll sell a couple to visitors to the farm at $8.00 per 500gm fish. Source: Shannon Mackay in the Logan West Leader (21/9/2005).

YA B B I E S THE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION ASSURANCE PROGRAM Speaking at the West Wimmera Aquaculture Network Meeting early in September, yabby farmer Trevor Domaschenz reminded attendees of the events leading up to the collapse of the Victorian yabby industry and warned of further inroads by bureaucracy. He advised that, while he no longer sells yabbies, he's still receiving letters threatening a $10,000 fine. The Victorian Yabby Farmers Network once had 40 members – there's now one other than Mr Domaschenz. The meeting listed various points: Only one licence should be necessary, in the same way as only one licence is required for a supermarket; under the Seafood Safety Act, if the majority of a business is not in seafood, then a seafood (Primesafe) licence is not needed; the Victorian Farmers Federation should adopt a stronger position and get a resolution from members opposing licensing in the Livestock Production Assurance Program; imported foodstuffs are not subject to the rigorous controls required in Australian production yet are allowed into the country under free trade laws; yabbies are the safest seafood listed under the Seafood Safety Act yet are the only product subject to audit; a career in farming will be out of reach because of too many impediments and costs. During a discussion with a government official recently, Mr Domaschenz posed three questions: Can I sell to a multi-water licence holder without a Primesafe licence? Can I sell to a Primesafe licence holder – eg the Footscray fish market – without a licence? Can I sell to an AQIS Licenced business without a Primesafe licence? He's now waiting for the answers. Source: West Wimmera Advocate (14/9/2005).

VIC YABBY GROWERS OPPOSE CURRENT RESEARCH LEVY SYSTEM Yabby growers want a more appropriate system under which to pay their federal research levies. Unlike livestock producers, who pay an amount based on numbers sold, yabby growers are charged a set rate annually, unconnected with their production. As a result of drought, over the last eight years some growers have paid more than $1000 without selling any yabbies. The levy, by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) is charged at 0.25 per cent of the gross production in all states. In Victoria it's calculated on the State's entire aquaculture production and divided equally between growers at a rate of $154 per licence. Yabby growers, badly affected by poor seasons and increased regulation costs, want arrangements changed so that those who grow more pay more. West Wimmera Aquaculture Network president Trevor Domaschenz compared the levy costs for yabby and trout growers. He pointed out that in 2003-2004 he and 60 other yabby growers paid December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 65


FISHENEWS

$9000 in levies on annual production of $62,000. In the same year the state's 29 trout growers paid $4466 in levies on production exceeding $12 million. He expects the levy to increase next year as a result of a large exodus from the industry due to increasing licence and food safety costs. A Fisheries Victoria spokesman advises the industry is in its second stage of full cost recovery, and the levy calculation process is being reconsidered. Source: Simone Dalton in the Weekly Times (28/9/2005).

G E N E R A L A Q U A C U LT U R E

JOURNALISTS SAMPLE PRODUCE DURING TASTING AUSTRALIA Tourism Eyre Peninsula has invited journalists from Australia, Belgium, the USA, France, Hong Kong and Germany to sample the produce available from the Eyre Peninsula. The body is working with the Eyre Regional Development Board, the Whyalla Regional Development Board and various businesses to deliver Tasting Australia late in October. The visitors will see aquaculture operations at Fitzgerald Bay, Clean Seas Aquaculture at Arno Bay, Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay. Source: Whyalla News (20/10/2005).

A NEW ANTI-BACTERIAL MATERIAL Bacterial biofilms cause problems across a wide range of areas, including aquaculture, contact lens hygiene, water pipes, hospital disease management and the like. In the 1990s NSW University workers noticed that the seaweed Delisea pulchra, unlike other seaweeds in the habitat, didn't host algae. Investigations showed the weed produced natural compounds called furanones. These prevented the formation of biofilm, not by killing the bacteria, but by disrupting the chemical signalling used by bacteria to colonise a surface. It's now possible to synthetically produce the furanones. The company Biosignal Limited was formed to commercialise the technology. While initially it was thought that it would be used in the marine anti-fouling, anti-corrosion and aquaculture areas, there are now known to be opportunities in the human health sector – which also means a much greater profitability. Biosignal is currently trading at 22.5 cents.

FARM APPROVED DESPITE AN APPEAL TO THE MINISTER A proposed marron and fish farm at Gidgegannup has been approved by the City of Swan despite an appeal to the Environment Minister Judy Edwards. Secret Springs Pty Ltd will move on the 18-pond farm subject following strict environmental guidelines. It's taken three years of battling to gain the approval. Several neighbouring landowners and representatives of the Wooroloo Brook Land Conservation District Committee had opposed the development. The recent appeal listed objections concerning the farm's effect on the Rocky Brook water quality and the amount of surface water used. Earlier objections had related to the size of two dams when compared with the size of the water course, and to the location of one of the dams.

Source: James Dunn (Biotech) in the Australian (19/10/2005).

MARINE CENTRE TO OPEN WITH THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR The new Marine Centre at Separation Point, Geraldton, is to open with the commencement of the new academic year. Supplementing existing TAFE marine and aquaculture courses, there'll also be Curtin University's Batchelor of Science (Aquaculture and Seafood Science). The Separation Point facility is only a short distance from the Geraldton campus.

BOWEN WATER PLAN MOVES ALONG Stakeholders involved with the plan to bring Burdekin Falls Dam water to Bowen are to meet again at the end of October. The intention is to deliver the water via a series of channels and pipes, meeting the foreseeable demands of the area's farming industry including aquaculture, and an industrial estate at Abbott Point. The next stage of the venture is to gain State Government permission to spend money on the environmental impact statement process, expected to cost $3 million. Funds will be sourced from SunWater, growers and the government. It's already known that the water provided by the scheme will be more expensive then that currently available, and users will need to combine volumes from the sources they can access for the most economic return. Source; Charles Cepulis in the Bowen Independent (14/10/2005).

GREAT BARRIER REEF AQUACULTURE REGULATIONS WORKING Now in operation for five years, the regulations governing aquaculture activity adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have been described as effective by the park management. Audits have shown the industry can co-exist with other activities without causing significant harm. One reason for the success of the regulations has been the good co-operation between various involved groups and agencies. Source: Cairns Post (27/10/2005).

66 Austasia Aquaculture | December/January 2006

Source: Echo (15/10/2005); Hills Gazette (15/10/2005).

Source: Countryman (27/10/2005).

SOMETHING DIFFERENT The Conservation Council, Redfishwest and M G Kailis have joined – believe it or not – in a bid to stop construction of the world's largest solar salt project in Exmouth Gulf. The unusual alliance claims the proposal threatens Exmouth's tourism, aquaculture and prawn industries. The $120 million proposal has been advanced by the Australian company Straits Salt, which has invested some $3.5 million on an environmental review and management program (ERMP) addressing impacts on marine industries, including fishing and pearling, and on the mangrove swamps and tidal flats. If adopted the plan would see salt evaporation ponds appearing along 50km of the gulf's eastern coast, producing initially 3 million tonnes and eventually as much 10 million tonnes of salt each year. The project would be located three to four kilometres inland and it's claimed would not affect mangrove swamps or tidal flats. However the company has already acknowledged environmental concerns including harm to mangrove ecosystems and impacts on marine fauna – though


FISHENEWS

it's claimed such impacts could be managed. It's expected the Environment Protection Authority will assess the ERMP for approximately two months before releasing it for public comment. Source: Eloise Dortch in the West Australian (22/10/2005); Yvonne Ball in the Australian Financial Review (31/10/2005).

REGULATIONS AND PREDATOR CONTROL FOCUS AT MEETING At a combined two-day event including the Queensland Aquaculture Industries Federation (QAIF) annual general meeting, a workshop, and farm visits, discussion with government agency representatives focussed on Government regulation and predator control. QAIF president Trevor Anderson noted that the industry is highly regulated with every farmer subject to more than 34 acts and regulations when growing product. Former president Cris Phillips described the level of regulation as a problem. Predators such as crocodiles and cormorants and their effects where also discussed. Students enrolled in the TAFE Certificate III in Seafood (Aquaculture) course also attended. Source: Suzette Planincic in the Innisfail Advocate (4/10/2005).

WAIKERIE FACILITY WORK MAY SOON BEGIN Work on the South Australian Research and Development Institute farm may commence early in October. The facility will be built at the highway end of the old Teletrak site off Ziegler Road. Construction activity will probably extend into 2006. The centre will house a research project on the feasibility of producing estuary species using water from the salt water interception scheme, and if efforts are successful, it will lead to the development of other farms along the scheme. Source: River News (5/10/2005).

SPRINGFIELD FISHERIES GETS EXPORT GRANT Springfield Fisheries has received a grant of $18,778 from the Export Market Development Grants scheme operated by the Federal Government. The scheme provides an incentive for Australian companies to start moving into export marketing. Source: North Eastern Advertiser (5/10/2005).

NEW SERVICE IN BROOME FOR AQUACULTURISTS Broome's Anthony Pagan has established a business supporting farmers who wish to get help in designing and constructing land- and water-based aquaculture facilities in the Kimberley. His operation is called Aquaculture Project Design and Construction. In Broome since 1991, Mr Pagan was originally an aquaculture student. Now he lectures on the subject at Broome TAFE, and has built a number of facilities. He can advise on any area of the business and set up systems for any aquaculture species. Source: Kimberley Times (13/10/2005).

EXPORT HUBS The opening of five export hubs away from the nation's capitals is benefiting regional Australia. Hubs have been established at Darwin, Carnarvon, Bundaberg, Ballarat and Launceston and three more are to be set up, at Port Augusta, Bega and Tweed Heads. The hubs each offer one-stop-shops providing joint services from AusIndustry and Austrade's TradeStart, supporting links between regional businesses and global logistics, marketing and other networks. AusIndustry's newest product is 'Commercial Ready', a scheme providing grants of between $50,000 and $5 million to small and medium-sized businesses for early-stage commercialisation of new services, products and processes. Currently the emphasis is on small business. One outstanding recipient of the hub service is Petuna Seafoods, farming more than 220 hectares in Macquarie Harbour. The business now exports 25 per cent of its fish to the US, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. While current products include ocean trout and Atlantic salmon, the business is receiving state and Federal Government help in research on whether it can commercially farm saltwater charr. Government grants are helping fund a planned five-year program into the charr venture. Austrade has helped 92 Tasmanian businesses achieve export success in the last financial year. To find out more go to http://www.exporthub.gov.au/default.aspx?FolderID=624&A rticleID=1495. Source: The Australian (26/9/2005).

Farm Manager and Assistant Farm Manager Murray Cod Farm in the Sunshine Coast hinterland is seeking suitably qualified / experienced aquaculturists for the above positions. The positions require: • Experience of finfish nursery and growout techniques. • Good communication and interpersonal skills. • Ability to manage a small team. • It would be highly desirable to have some knowledge of the species. For further information call 07-54981111. Email resumes to: info@kilcoyfishery.com or fax to 07-54981144

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December/January 2006 | Austasia Aquaculture 67


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Austasia Aquaculture Magazine December/January 2006

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