Prawn farming is the most valuable aquaculture sector in Queensland and is a priority development industry for the State Government. Marine prawns have provided the major growth in this industry with a value of $37 million in 2000/01, or over 66% of the value of Queensland aquaculture. Nevertheless several issues need to be addressed to ensure the industry continues to grow and is economically and environmentally sustainable.
The supply and performance of broodstock is seen as the weakest link in the production cycle, both overseas and nationally, and is viewed as a major research priority by the Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA). Presently the marine prawn sector is dominated by Penaeus monodon production, the broodstock of which are obtained from the wild fishery in a few near-shore coastal areas in northern Queensland. Recent screening of wild-sourced broodstock for viruses has revealed that nearly all of them, from the traditional areas of supply, are carriers of potentially pathogenic forms of viruses. In response, the industry has developed a strategic goal of becoming a true farming sector by shifting its reliance on wild broodstock toward totally closed life cycle production. Research providers and industry are now committed to developing domesticated broodstock that will eventually be used in selective breeding programs to produce specific strains or breeds.
This project placed special emphasis on strategic issues, to develop solutions to current and future challenges for prawn hatcheries, and applied issues, with effort directed towards clear and identifiable objectives in improving broodstock reproductive performance. Strategic issues included developing specific research tools to investigate some of the basic mechanisms that underpin reproductive capability and its physiological control in P. monodon (Objectives 1 and 2). This information is essential if informed knowledge-based improvements in broodstock management are to develop in a vigorous manner. Applied issues included the objective of comparing reproductive performance of captive-reared broodstock that had been grown to sexual maturity in either tanks or ponds (Objective 3). The final objective was directed to examining supplementation of specific compounds in broodstock maturation diets and their impacts on subsequent reproductive performance
Keywords: Penaeus monodon, aquaculture, egg quality, fertility.