Back to FISH Vol 29 2
PUBLISHED 1 Jun 2021

Improving crab survival


Scientists from Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries worked with the New South Wales crab and lobster industries to determine ways to reduce stress imposed on the animals from capture to market. Through temperature monitoring along the supply chain, two key areas were identified as having high impact on the crustaceans. Handling by individual fishers from point of capture was found to be critical to keep animals cool, damp, out of light and with minimal disturbance. Low temperatures during transport of crabs and lobsters often imposed severe stress, arising from truck refrigeration temperatures being set below the tolerance of live animals and the influence of cold truck floor-beds reducing live animal temperatures. The importance of careful handling after capture was emphasised at every landing location visit. Simple modifications for protecting live animals from cold temperatures during transport were developed to reduce stress. The benefit gained from adapted practices was successfully demonstrated within commercial operations.

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Sue Poole, 

Climate factors impact crab harvests


This project investigated relationships between environmental factors and crab harvests in the Gulf of Carpentaria (GoC). Desktop correlative analyses indicated that fluctuations in the catches of Giant Mud Crabs (Scylla serrata) in the GoC are likely to be driven by environmental factors including river flow, rainfall, temperature, evaporation, and sea level changes. Declines in catches of Giant Mud Crabs between 2009 and 2016 in the Northern Territory and 2013 and 2016 in Queensland coincided with a sequence of years with low rainfall, high temperatures and below average mean sea levels. The GoC is an area where Giant Mud Crabs and their associated fisheries may be highly vulnerable to climate events.

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Julie B. Robins,

Nutritional composition of seafood


Understanding the nutritional composition of seafood products is both a regulatory requirement and a consumer demand. Although a considerable body of data exists that covers key fish species, most commercially important species within the wildcatch sector still lack a basic nutritional profile. This knowledge gap impacts heavily on industry by providing hurdles for the industry to meet their regulatory responsibilities and leaving consumers somewhat in the dark when it comes to understanding the seafood products they consume. To address this, extensive work was undertaken to develop nutrition panels for a minimum of 25 commercially important wildcatch seafood species where none currently exist.

Overall, the project successfully delivered nutritional profiles for 25 finfish and three crustacean species. The data compiled consists of proximate, vitamin and mineral components for the 28 profiled species. Published results within this report have also been made available electronically to help preserve integrity during data handling. The impact to industry of this valuable resource is broad and goes beyond simple nutrition information panels for the profiled species. Using the data generated through this project, stakeholders are better equipped to promote the health benefits of seafood consumption, overcome technical market challenges and regulatory requirements, counter any negative public perceptions or media claims, and expand product innovation and further species utilisation.

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Andrew Forrest, 

New harvest strategy for SESSF


Since the 2006 structural adjustment program, which saw a large reduction in the number of fishing boats in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF), the fishery has been undergoing a period of substantial change. These changes have included an increased focus on ecosystem-based fisheries management, fewer quota species being targeted by fishers, total allowable catches (TACs) for many quota species being significantly under caught and some stocks continuing to decline, or not recovering, despite reduced fishing effort. 
These changes prompted research to improve fishery outcomes for the benefit of fishers and the Australian community. This project, incorporating a workshop involving representatives from all SESSF stakeholder groups, has been an important step in identifying, understanding, rationalising and prioritising the outcomes of this recently completed research to best respond to the changes and maximise the benefits of the fishery. The output of this project is the implementation plan that provides a comprehensive, prioritised list of actions for the SESSF as it transitions to a new harvest strategy framework.

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Ian Knuckey, 

Recovery strategy for western abalone


A two-day workshop was held to progress a formal industry-driven recovery strategy to complement current Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development recovery work in Western Australia. The aim of the workshop was for industry participants to gain an understanding of how the Western Abalone Divers Association had implemented new technologies to monitor fishing effort and catch more accurately.

Workshop participants were particularly interested in understanding the use of data loggers, dive loggers, measuring boards and GoPros, and how data generated by these could be used to produce heat maps for fishing effort, catch rates and dive times.

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Don Nicholls, 0457 735 638

Prawn import disease testing


This project tested a range of imported uncooked prawn commodities for the presence of Yellowhead virus (YHV-1) and Taura syndrome virus (TSV). The knowledge gained was used to inform the response of the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) into the review of the crustacean Import Risk Assessment in 2018. All samples tested negative for YHV-1. But inconclusive results in 15 of 105 uncooked prawn commodities for TSV is a concern for the potential entry of a viable exotic prawn pathogen into Australia. The diversion of imported uncooked prawns for use as bait or berley by recreational anglers has been demonstrated as a risk pathway for release of pathogens should they be present within uncooked imported product. The use of cooking as a sanitary measure for reduction of risk in imported prawn commodities could demonstrably reduce risk of viable pathogen entry into Australia via this commodity trade.

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Matt Landos,

Chemical use data for prawn farms


This project assisted in providing Australian prawn farms improved access to priority chemical products that can assist farm biosecurity. Detailed review of available knowledge and public domain literature to complete data packages and fill information gaps has assisted the completion of minor-use permit (MUP) applications to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for trichlorfon, hydrogen peroxide and calcium and sodium hypochlorite, while identifying additional data requirements needed to complete MUP applications for benzalkonium chloride and copper sulfate. This process ensures safe use and efficacy of chemical products on Australian prawn farms.

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Matt Landos,

Reinvigorating Queensland oyster industry


This study has revealed the intertidal oyster species that are present in Queensland and their distributions. This information is of critical importance to oyster farmers who are considering diversification, as native oyster species are unlikely to perform well outside their natural latitudinal range. The information is also essential for the legislative bodies who govern oyster aquaculture in Queensland. The results will also be used by industry, government and university personnel to direct future research efforts towards species that are most likely to be commercially viable. The project has also developed a suite of molecular tools to support the development of the Blacklip Oyster [Saccostrea echinata] as a major aquaculture species. This data is publicly available and will be utilised by researchers to improve production.

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Carmel McDougall,

Fast track tests for oyster farms


To make rapid decisions in responding to disease outbreaks such as Pacific Oyster mortality syndrome (POMS), results are required as fast as possible. Following a review of potential rapid and portable testing options, researchers from SARDI Aquatic Sciences selected and investigated the sensitivity and specificity of the Biomeme Franklin platform for rapid detection of ostreid herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1) in Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) samples. OsHV-1 is the virus responsible for POMS. This project investigated and delivered a test that can deliver results in hours rather than days, at low cost, with ease of use and field applicability.

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Sarah Catalano,

Guidelines for farm biosecurity plan


This project developed guidelines to provide the Australian sea-cage finfish (non-salmonid) industry with the tools and templates to create an auditable farm biosecurity plan. Consideration was given to the current farming of Yellowtail Kingfish (Seriola lalandi), Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) and Cobia (Rachycentron canadum). There were two components to this project. First, an industry–government workshop was held to discuss disease risks for sea-cage finfish farms, existing biosecurity guidelines, policy, risk assessments, and the appropriate content of a sea-cage finfish (non-salmonid) biosecurity plan. Based on these discussions, attendees workshopped best practice and practical biosecurity management for sea-cage finfish (non-salmonid) farms. The second component of the project was to develop biosecurity plan guidelines and templates for the sea-cage finfish (non-salmonid) industry of Australia. These guidelines are based on information from the industry workshop and related reference material. They highlight the potential routes for disease transmission, including disease spread onto, within and off the farm, to facilitate associated risk assessments for disease transmission.

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Shane Roberts,

Northern aquaculture opportunities


This report provides a summary of the ‘Aquaculture opportunities in northern Australia: solutions and strategies workshop’ held in Rockhampton, 5-6 February 2020. This FRDC project supported James Cook University, the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association and Rockhampton Regional Council to organise and host the workshop. The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) commissioned an aquaculture situational analysis to understand the current situation and future challenges and opportunities for aquaculture in northern Australia. This facilitated stakeholder workshop brought together 85 key stakeholders and enablers from across northern Australia to test, refine and gain buy-in for the ‘Vision 2030 for aquaculture in northern Australia’ and prioritise recommendations to enable industry expansion.

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Jennifer Cobcroft,