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"Preston positive despite restructure" - Australia responds to increased national and international demand for aquaculture technology despite limited funding


r Nigel Preston is the Research Program Director for Aquaculture, one of eight new programs in the recently created Agriculture Flagship in the Austr alian C o m m o n w e a l t h S c i e n t i fi c Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The restructure of CSIRO and formation of the Agriculture Flagship followed a reduction of Aus$111 million to CSIRO in the May 2014 federal budget, with significant reduction in science and support staff. Dr Preston acknowledges that it is always difficult to meet the challenges of funding cuts, especially the departure of close colleagues, however, he and his research team are determined to focus on responding to the increasing national and international demand for aquaculture research and development. His research experience includes; marine biology, marine ecology, environmental management of aquaculture and the development and application of advanced genetics and nutrition technologies in aquaculture. He is an acknowledged world

authority in aquaculture and has contributed to the sustainable growth of aquaculture industries in Australia and overseas. His proficiency in assembling multidisciplinary research teams to tackle key research issues has been invaluable in developing CSIRO’s research portfolio and delivering realised impacts to industry.

The program

T h e C S I RO A q u a c u l t u r e Research Program cover s a large area within Australia, from tropical aquaculture in the north to temperate aquaculture in the south. The program has also established collaborative research partnerships in many other countries. The goal of the Program is to transform the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Australian and global aquaculture industries via whole of system collaborative research. The Program integrates capabilities in applied selective breeding and quantitative genetics, molecular genetics bioinformatics and genomics virology and immunology, physiology and biology, nutrition, nutrigenomics, feed technologies, microbiology, organic

chemistry, sensor based technology and decision support systems. At the World Aquaculture meeting in Adelaide in June 2014, Dr Preston was honoured by the World Aquaculture Society and made a Fellow of the Society. Matt West, President of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) said that making Dr Preston a Fellow of such an important body is a welldeserved honour in recognition of his contributions to Australian and global aquaculture over the last 25 years. "Nigel has been at the forefront of driving Australia's aquaculture industry and his decades of research work have encompassed most aspects of the industry from water quality to selecting broodstock. However the success of recent commercial trials of the new fish-meal-free feeds for farmed prawns, the result of a Aus$10 million CSIRO research program headed by Nigel is a standout achievement.” Nigel is rightly proud of leading the CSIRO team that created the Novacq prawn feed additive. The research was a truly multidisciplinary team effort.


Dr Brett Glencross turbocharged the research with his comprehensive knowledge and experience of feed technologies and nutrition. Stuart Arnold and Simon Irvin played critical roles in testing the technology in China and Vietnam. Andrew Chalmers skillfully negotiated all aspects of commercialising the Novacq technology. Every other member of the team has also contributed to the success of Novacq. After 10 years of research, the CSIRO team delivered the Novacq technology. Prawns (shrimp) fed with Novacq grow on average 20-30 percent faster, are healthier and can be produced with no fish products in their diet, a world-first achievement in sustainability.

Major global breakthrough

Matt West considers that this achievement by Nigel’s Program in Australia is a major global breakthrough in the prawn aquafeed industr y – something which is viewed by the APFA as "a game changer” that will deliver direct benefits to the industry. "This means that Australian

Mar | Apr 2015 - International Aquafeed magazine  

The March - April 2015 edition of International Aquafeed magazine

Mar | Apr 2015 - International Aquafeed magazine  

The March - April 2015 edition of International Aquafeed magazine