By Catherine Norwood
Aquarium aquaculture in the Torres Straits Islands could be trialled this year in the wake of an Indigenous Development Scholarship research project jointly funded through the FRDC and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).
Frank Loban received the 2011 FRDC-DAFF scholarship for research into the potential for clam aquaculture in the Torres Strait Islands.
The scholarship allowed him to visit the Federated States of Micronesia, where clam aquaculture has already been established at the national Fisheries and Maritime Institute. As part of his visit, he helped with the collection of clam spawn from local reefs.
He also visited the Darwin Aquaculture Centre.
“The Northern Territory Government is investing a lot of money there to develop systems that can be taken up in collaboration with indigenous communities in the Territory,” he says.
Although he was originally researching clam aquaculture for human consumption, Frank Loban says that after his time in Micronesia he is now looking at production of the highly coloured Tridacna species for the aquarium industry.
His research indicated that it could take 10 to 15 years to achieve a return on investment in clam aquaculture for food, but only five years for aquarium clams. He is also investigating the potential to grow hard corals and ‘live rocks’ – floating volcanic rocks that form the substrate for other marine organisms, including plants and corals.
“I am working to establish a trial operation on Thursday Island, in collaboration with some other partners, which will require land-based biotanks and an irrigation system.”
Frank Loban says the scholarship provided a valuable opportunity to investigate aquaculture opportunities for the Torres Strait community. The organisations he visited were supportive in sharing information including their operating guides.
Mathew Osborne from Rural Solutions SA has been awarded the 2012 FRDC-DAFF Indigenous Development Scholarship to undertake leadership development in 2013.
He plans to visit the Northern Territory and Queensland to better understand management and development models to increase indigenous participation in the fishing industry and fisheries management.
FRDC Code: 2008-326.34
Frank Loban, 07 4069 0807, 0447 178 795,