Project Title:

Final Report - 2007/225 - Metazoan parasite survey of selected macro-inshore fish of southeastern Australia, including species of commercial importance

Project Number: 2007/225
Published Date: Apr 2011 Year: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-646-55210-1 ISSN:
Description: Accurate identification of fishes and their parasites is fundamental to the development, management and sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture worldwide. We examined a total of 29 fish species including currently farmed fish species, candidate aquaculture species and commercial and recreational species to determine their metazoan parasite assemblages and infection parameters. We identified more than 120 parasite species. Host tissue samples for fish studied and at least one voucher specimen of each parasite species were deposited in recognised curated museum collections. Although a range of parasite fauna was encountered, we placed taxonomic emphasis on copepod, monogenean and aporocotylid (blood fluke) species, because these parasite groups are frequently associated with pathology, morbidity and/or mortality in finfish aquaculture. During the course of this study, redescriptions have been provided for the monogeneans Microcotyle arripis Sandars, 1945 and Kahawaia truttae Dillon and Hargis, 1965 from Arripis georgianus and A. truttaceus, respectively and the copepod Kabataia ostorhinchi Kazatchenko, Korotaeva & Kurochkin, 1972 from knifejaw Oplegnathus woodwardi in Chapter 4. A new blood fluke (Paradeontacylix n. sp.) from Seriola hippos in described in Chapter 5.

 

Principal Investigator: KS Hutson, SR Catalano & ID Whittington

 

Key Words: Metazoan parasites, finfish aquaculture, parasite, infection, biological data, parasite biology, biodiversity, biogeography, biosecurity, biology, ecology, conservation and animal health

 

Summary:

Parasites have the potential to limit the growth of Australian fishing industries, especially aquaculture, through mortality, morbidity and reduced marketability. A majority of the parasites of recreational, commercial and farmed Australian finfish has not been collected, studied or described. We surveyed 12 important finfish species and documented their parasite assemblages, placing emphasis on parasitic crustaceans (e.g. sea-lice) and helminths (e.g. flukes). Morphological methods and, in some cases, molecular tools were used to facilitate parasite identification. More than 120 parasite species were identified. Parasites were used as biological tags to identify geographic population structure in one commercial fish species, the southern garfish. We assessed parasite risks to sea-cage aquaculture for two species of finfish in Australia, mulloway and barramundi, and indicate appropriate methods to adopt in animal husbandry in the event of parasite outbreaks in mulloway and barramundi culture which will help improve the viability of the industries. A comprehensive, user-friendly, richly illustrated website (MarineParasites.com) has been created that details parasite biology, pathology and host-specificity, enabling lay people to identify different types of parasites in common fish species encountered in Australia.

 

Discovery and documentation of parasite fauna of wild and farmed fish should be incorporated into any ongoing sampling programs for effective parasite management and risk assessment (Chapters 2, 4-7). Effective mitigation of parasite species infecting fishes in sea-cage farms can only be achieved through reliable parasite identification (Chapters 2-5), knowledge of their biology (Chapter 6) and assessment of appropriate management methods (Chapter 7). Recognition of parasite species that may decrease profitability through reduced marketability, morbidity and/or mortality of stocks is crucial (Chapters 5-7). Parasites also enable further insight into the geographic population structure of fish stocks (Chapter 6) which is critical for fisheries management. This research delivered on its objective to identify parasites of potential threat to the sustainability of the Australian sea-cage aquaculture industry (Chapters 2, 5-7). Husbandry practices were identified that will enable development of the most appropriate management strategies to avoid outbreaks in Australian aquaculture (Chapter 7). Knowledge gained from this project is accessible to the wider public through the development of a professional, user friendly website (Chapter 8).

This research has generated biological material (including new and poorly known parasite species) that could involve several more years of further taxonomic work to produce several more publications - far beyond the means of this three year research project. Our research has emphasised the diversity of parasites that occur in the marine ecosystem and how scant our knowledge is. We plan to continue to work on this material and will continue to publish the results (Appendix 5). This identifies and underscores the need to continue to fund similar projects and continue the partnership with FRDC and ABRS, in order to generate the information required to manage wild fisheries sustainably, ensure the welfare of farmed fishes and also to train marine parasitologists of the future.


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