Project number: 1999-202
Project Status:
Completed
Budget expenditure: $34,490.00
Principal Investigator: Louis Evans
Organisation: Curtin University
Project start/end date: 5 Sep 1999 - 7 Jan 2005
Contact:
FRDC

Need

With the increasing interest of lobster processors to keep lobsters for extended time periods prior to sale, and of the lobster industry in general in lobster aquaculture, there is a need for information on lobster health management. It is well recognised that a range of diseases and conditions occur in wildstock lobsters (Evans & Brock, 1994) and that health management problems are likely to be encountered in enhancement and aquaculture of spiny rock lobsters. In order to prevent disease outbreaks, or effectively deal with such conditions should they occur, reference material is required for use by personnel involved in enhancement and aquaculture programs. At present there is very little published information on health management of spiny rock lobsters held in captivity. A valuable first step to address this need would be the publication of a manual describing the approach to be used to investigate lobster health problems along with photographic material on disease conditions likely to occur in captive lobsters. Such a manual would be used by operators of holding/culture facilities or by fish health personnel involved in disease investigations. An autopsy manual with illustrations of common parasitic and disease conditions found in Australian lobsters would also be of interest to lobster fishers.

One of the conditions most likely to occur in captive lobsters is bacterial infections by opportunistic pathogens, those bacteria which are ubiquitous and only cause disease when the lobster is weak or when a particularly virulent strain of bacteria is encountered. It is well known that crustaceans can harbour bacteria in their body fluids apparently without causing the animal any harm. Whether the presence of bacteria in the hemolymph of lobsters is indicative of the likelihood of disease outbreaks and future stock mortality is not well understood. In addition to publication of a lobster autopsy manual, this project will provide information which will contribute to understanding and managing bacterial infections in captive lobsters. The information will be obtained from bacterial challenge experiments conducted on lobsters held in aquaria in the laboratory. These experiments will also provide descriptive material for inclusion in the lobster autopsy manual.

The techniques and information described in the autopsy manual can be used to investigate possible problems arising from mortalities of unknown causes, as well provide fishers and factory staff with a reference to consult when lobsters with health problems are encountered during fishing and processing. The autopsy manual will be of value to fish pathologists for use in disease diagnosis as well as to fishers, fish processors and researchers.
Evans L.H. & Brock J.A. 1994. Diseases on spiny lobsters. In "Spiny Lobster Management (Ed. B.F. Phillips, J.S. Cobb & J. Kittaka) pp 461-472. Blackwell Scientific Publications.

The autopsy manual will include details of approach to be followed in conducting an autopsy on a lobster, descriptions of assay methodology, normal ranges for selected immune and physiological parameters, expected deviations from normal in lobsters subjected to excessive postharvest stressors, photographs of gross and microscopic lesions and descriptions of pathogens observed in apparently healthy lobsters as well as in moribund lobsters.

Objectives

1. The publication of an autopsy manual to be used in the lobster industry. The manual will include details of approach to be followed in conducting an autopsy on a lobster, descriptions of assay methodology, normal ranges for selected immune and physiological parameters, expected deviations from normal in lobsters subjected to excessive post harvest stressors, photographs of gross and microscopic lesions and descriptions of pathogens observed in apparently healthy lobsters as well as in moribund lobsters.

Final report

Author: Louis Evans
Final Report • 2003-11-18 • 7.46 MB
1999-202-DLD.pdf

Summary

Data and information on lobster host defense responses, disease conditions, dissection procedures and laboratory investigation methods were obtained from the FRDC projects 94/134. 07, 96/344, 96/345 and 98/302 and other sources and collated into a publication on the nature and investigation of lobster diseases. Contributions to the book were sought from lobster researchers and fish health personnel from Australia and New Zealand. Following collation and editorial review, the individual chapters were circulated for review and comment. The publication, titled ‘A review of lobster diseases, their investigation and pre-disposing factors’ was published in 2003 and contains the following chapters:

  1. Lobster health and disease concepts (Louis Evans)
  2. Responses to environmental stressors (Louis Evans)
  3. Lobster autopsy procedure and immune assay methods (Louis Evans, Seema Fotedar and Anne Barnes)
  4. Collection and handling of blood samples from spiny lobsters (Brian Paterson, Patrick Spanoghe and Glen Davidson)
  5. Reagents and methodology for immune function tests (Louis Evans & Seema Fotedar)
  6. Review of adult lobster diseases (Frances Stephens, Louis Evans, Seema Fotedar and Brian Jones)
  7. Disease conditions of larval and juvenile spiny lobsters (Ben Diggles and Judith Handlinger)
  8. Biosecurity and food safety issues (Frances Stephens)

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