Back to FISH Vol 29 3
PUBLISHED 14 Sep 2021

Interested in an FRDC final report?

For a copy of an FRDC project final report go to, contact the FRDC on 02 6122 2100, or email

Northern Aquaculture vision


This report provides a summary of the ‘Aquaculture opportunities in northern Australia: Solutions and Strategies Workshop’ held in Rockhampton, 5–6 February 2020. At the gathering, stakeholders endorsed the northern Australia aquaculture industry Vision 2030: “In 2030, northern Australian aquaculture will be a nationally significant ($1b a year GVP), cohesive, sustainable, respected industry, providing premium products to Australian and international markets, that contributes to the prosperity and diversification of regional and Indigenous communities across the north.”

The northern Australian aquaculture industry’s highest priority is to reduce the risk of exotic or endemic diseases, which threaten current production and add risk to investment in industry expansion. A more collaborative approach of industry and biosecurity agencies was advocated, through open conversation and a good flow of information, with resolution of the Aquatic Deed a key sector priority.

Market access and market development are key needs driven by the projected increase in product volume in northern Australia and the high volume required to access some markets. Enhanced understanding of consumer trends and future needs will support the interests of different-sized companies in the market.

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Jennifer Cobcroft,

Strategic plan for abalone growers


The project aimed to develop a Strategic Plan for the Australian Abalone Growers Association (AAGA) for 2020–2025.

AAGA established its first strategic plan in 2015 for the period 2015 to 2020. AAGA members wished to develop a new strategic plan to inform further investment in their sector for the period 2020 to 2025 and beyond. AAGA and the FRDC recognise the need for the sustainable development of the Australian abalone farming industry. This plan and related strategies consolidate and continue the industry’s relationship with the FRDC and the Australian Government. Both AAGA and the FRDC recognise the need to ensure that this industry’s development is supported and guided by an appropriate governance framework, with the flexibility and durability to meet the changing needs of the sector.

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Ewan Colquhoun,

Strategic plan for prawn farmers


This strategic plan was developed by farmers, the the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA) and the FRDC. The plan positions the farmed prawn industry to take best advantage of its strategic and investment choices over the next five years.

The Australian farmed prawn sector faces a number of existing and emerging strategic issues that will impact its performance in the next five to 10 years. The forces driving these trends are quite dynamic, which means the APFA Executive Committee requires constant access to up-to-date planning processes. Some of these drivers and trends are beyond the APFA’s control (for example, weaker A$, import competition and market positioning, proposed significant new domestic investment in the sector), while others are not (improved sustainability across Australian farming systems, reliance on casual labour, communication across the sector, alignment of sector R&D with strategy direction, precompetitive marketing).

The new strategic plan comes from a comprehensive strategic and research, development and extension (RD&E) planning process to bring together and document all the relevant issues in a coordinated and focused process led by an independent party.

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Ewan Colquhoun,

Oyster industry response to the COVID-19 crisis


This project was conducted by Oysters Australia to identify ways of supporting the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was initiated in April 2020 at a time when oyster sales across the nation had dropped 95 per cent. Oysters Australia staff and subcontractors did the work from April to October 2020, conducting a comprehensive survey of the industry.

The recommendations from this project that will be considered further by Oysters Australia are:

  1. Continue to participate in the Seafood Industry Australia seafood promotion campaign, with the aim of improving sales, clearing the backlog of oysters on farm and maintaining farm gate prices. In future years this will require the industry to raise its own funds to pay for the campaign.
  2. Maintain the Industry Situation Summary so that it is current and can be easily refreshed to address specific issues when needed.
  3. Continue conducting Industry Situation Analysis surveys as needed.
  4. Continue the National Oyster Market Report if the industry determines it is worthwhile and of value.

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Len Stephens,

Understanding abalone’s genetic immunity


After discovering the existence of an abalone species (Paua, Haliotis iris) resistant to Abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG), the research team exposed the AVG-resistant Paua and the AVG-susceptible Greenlip x Blacklip hybrid abalone to HaHV-1 (the etiological agent of AVG) and compared gene expression between species. Cutting-edge sequencing technology and bioinformatic analysis allowed them to investigate the gene expression of the animals at the molecular level. This approach led to pinpointing abalone genes that are likely to play a role in the protection against AVG in Paua. Furthermore, the identification of these genes may facilitate (if applicable) the use of a gene-silencing technology in vitro and in vivo to improve immune response to AVG. A breeding program strategy could also eventually be implemented to increase resistance to AVG in susceptible abalone species.

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Serge Corbeil,

Investigating new aquaculture species


This project was undertaken to assess the potential of two finfish species, Cobia (Rachycentron canadum) and Queensland Groper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) as alternative aquaculture candidates for the Rocky Point Prawn Farm (RPPF) and potentially other aquaculture enterprises.

The study was developed and led by RPPF with assistance from The Company One and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, with staff from the Bribie Island Research Centre. It ran from March 2017 until June 2018. In the study, the commercial performance of each species was assessed when cultured in both indoor tank systems and outdoor cages. The production and market information generated by this project provided a framework to evaluate the relative costs and benefits of the two species within the range of production methods and strategies available to RPPF and guide future investment and strategies to optimise production.

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Brad Cherrie,

Storm Bay environmental monitoring


The report summarises an initial environmental review into interactions between salmon farming and the water column, soft-sediment, inshore reefs, deep reefs and seagrass habitats. The key indicators and sampling designs for the water column, soft-sediment and inshore reef habitats are well developed. Preliminary results from Storm Bay monitoring, and from another FRDC project to build flexibility and risk assurance into environmental management strategies nearing completion, have been used to determine the sensitivity of the sampling designs for assessing the environmental performance of these habitats at different spatial and temporal scales. Sampling methods and designs are still being refined for the deep reef and seagrass habitats. The initial results will be used to identify key indicator species or functional groups and parameters that should be monitored, and to test the power of the sampling design to detect any potential interactions with salmon farming.

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Jeff Ross,

Hydrodynamic model for Okehampton Bay


The study aims to satisfy the regulatory requirements from the Tasmanian Environment Protection Authority for Tassal’s use of Okehampton Bay for salmonoid aquaculture, particularly the possible fate of material released within Okehampton Bay into the receiving environment. To achieve that objective, the CSIRO Coastal Environment Modelling team developed a hydrodynamic model to investigate the far field and regional hydrodynamic connectivity around Okehampton Bay and the Mercury Passage surrounds, hereafter referred to as the OKE model. For the first stage of this project, a pilot model was developed and run over the 2016–17 period. Calibration and validation of the OKE model against observations was provided in the second phase of this project. This report provides details of the development of the calibrated model. The observations provided were sufficient to calibrate the model to a satisfactory standard.

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Brad Evans,

Linking ecosystems to prawn profitability


This project filled a significant key data gap by estimating the economic value of habitats that support the diets of economically important species of fish and prawns. The findings suggest the rehabilitation of mangroves and saltmarshes should be prioritised in Wallis Lake to promote fisheries productivity. They also emphasise the importance of seagrasses in the system for providing food and habitat resources for a range of species. The project demonstrates the steps required to produce natural capital accounts for commercial fisheries. Through stakeholder engagement, the project demonstrated that the approach was valuable for fisheries and also of great interest to local stakeholders in both government and the public. Stakeholders agreed the approach would be useful for supporting targeted rehabilitation within estuarine systems, given the inextricable link between habitats, productivity and profitability.

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Becky Schmidt,

Fish price and market dynamics


This final report, a collaboration between economists from CSIRO, Central Queensland University and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), is the first detailed analysis of the interrelationship between fish prices on the Sydney and Melbourne fish markets. In addition, the study derived empirical estimates of the own-price and cross-price flexibilities for the main species on the Sydney Fish Market. Using cointegration analysis, the study established that the Sydney and Melbourne markets are highly integrated, with prices of individual species moving together. Demand models were developed to examine substitutability between key fish species on the Sydney market, along with the substitutability of imports for domestic product. The demand modelling results indicate prices of individual key fish species are sensitive to changes in their quantities landed, but less sensitive to changes of quantities supplied by other fish species. It was also found that the increased production of farmed salmon in Australia has had
a substantial negative impact on the prices received for species on the Sydney Fish Market – more so than the impact of imports.

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Sean Pascoe,