Project number: 2001-094
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $77,631.00
Principal Investigator: Judith Handlinger
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 24 Jul 2001 - 20 Nov 2006


While population neutrality of rock lobster culture based on puerulus collection remains a priority for the rock lobster wild fishery, this can only be assured if both survival and impact of juveniles returned after on-growing is satisfactory. Addressing the possibility of cultured fish transferring infectious diseases to the wild and thereby impacting on the fishery, requires a sound knowledge of diseases of southern rock lobsters and a database on their occurrence in different marine bioregions of Tasmania. Unfortunately, this is far from the situation. Monitoring health of wild-caught puerulus has provided preliminary data under limited circumstances (Handlinger et al., submitted). The only immature fish examined directly from the wild have been puerulus, collected from limited areas of Tasmania. The most significant problems in culture to date are nonspecific issues of poor water quality, fouling related shell disease. Specific lobster pathogens have not been identified but Vibriosis may yet prove to be very important. Limited data from other populations and other species has been collated (Evans 2000).
This is clearly inadequate and the need for baseline data is recognised as a key research area for fish health by SCFA (Subprogram B for Environmental Management, National Research and Development Plan). AQUAPLAN also recognises the need for adequate surveillance and for health studies for new aquaculture industries, and the Fish Health Management Committee in Tasmania has noted that this project represents an initiative consistent with these AQUAPLAN objectives.


1. To undertake a health survey of representative groups of wild juvenile southern rock lobsters.
2. To undertake similar examination of statistically relevant numbers of cultured rock lobsters of similar age and to compare the prevalence of diseases with those found in wild stocks.
3. To use the information acquired from (a) and (b) in a risk analysis to determine the probability of adverse health consequences as a result of the release of cultured rock lobsters.
4. To define protocols for health testing of juvenile rock lobsters before release

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