Project number: 2001-252
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $479,013.00
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Buchanan
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 30 Jan 2002 - 9 Mar 2004


This project is essential for cohesive research and development aimed at meeting the priority needs of the highly successful tuna aquaculture industry. While the industry has developed rapidly since its initiation in 1990, research and development is a pivotal requirement to underpin its development and assure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

This project is focussed on managing and coordinating the infrastructure for small scale, experimental, high risk and/or novel research and development activities utilising live SBT. These services have been and continue to be required by a range of projects managed by the SBT Aquaculture Subprogram (the specific scientific methods associated with each research project is developed more fully within the relevant project).
This project will:
1) ensure that an experimental system with live SBT is available for researchers focussing on the R&D priorities of the tuna farming industry;
2) ensure that the use of the available resources is optimised and that a minimum level of duplication occurs;
3) enable the costs associated with these activities to be clearly distinguished;
4) play a key role in communication between researchers and tuna farmers as the project staff are based in Port Lincoln, the centre of commercial activities.
Larger scale pilot commercial trials are now recognised to be more effectively undertaken by commercial
farmers with their larger pontoons, commercial stocking densities and more wave-exposed sites. This strategy also has the advantage of improving the transfer of research outcomes to industry, involving industry to a greater extent in the evaluation of outcomes, enhancing industry development of innovative technologies and practices to address commercial issues, and disseminating information more representative of their commercial operations. All these aspects are important in facilitating the take up and commercialisation of the research outcomes.


1. Provide and maintain a managed (staff and budgets) facility as required by other project PIs undertaking small scale, experimental, high risk and/or novel research and development activities requiring live SBT.
2. Ensure to the level of resources available, that the research facility and procedures are world best practice scientifically as well as from an industry perspective.
3. To coordinate and therefore optimise the use of the limited resources available for research and development requiring live SBT in a managed research environment, through the development of an agreed project Annual Operating Plan.
4. To complete, in consultation with other project PIs, the planned research and development activities designated in the project Annual Operating Plan, providing the agreed outputs (generally data) in an orderly and timely manner.

Final report

Author: Dr Jeffrey Buchanan
Final Report • 2003-07-09 • 239.20 KB


The project provided scientific and technical support to research projects involving live Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) under controlled conditions. These were primarily conducted by the Aquafin CRC and FRDC and managed through the SBT Aquaculture Subprogram. Four experiments were undertaken in relation to SBT product quality (FRDC No. 2001-248) and nutrition (FRDC No. 2001-249), three on the Tuna Research Farm and one on the Stehr Group commercial farm. Support was also given to a range of other projects, including ones associated with "bait fish composition" (FRDC No. 2000-221), "commercial pilot-scale manufactured feed trials" (FRDC No. 2001-201), "environment: farm waste characterisation" (FRDC No. 2001-103) and "health: development of cell lines for virology" (FRDC No. 2001-200). The experiments were successfully completed in accordance with the annual operating plan finalised with the SBT Aquaculture Subprogram Steering Committee. The support by this project to the others was gratefully acknowledged by the principal investigators of each project. Results and outcomes from the experiments are presented in the final report of each of the associated projects, rather than in this report.

In the conduct of the above specified experiments, this project utilised 259 live SBT in multiple 12m diameter experimental pontoons and one 32m diameter holding pontoon, as well as provided support to complete the experiment using 72 SBT maintained on the Stehr Group commercial farm. Tuna harvested after early experiments had not reached market size and prices were poor. Tuna harvest following later experiments had been able to reach close to industry-standard condition and received much higher prices. Significant mortalities occurred early in the season mainly due to seal attacks, which previously had not been a problem, and also due to some stress related bacterial infections. Improved electric fencing was installed to minimise the seal attack problem.

Relocation of the Tuna Research Farm to more waters seaward of Boston Bay is recommended to minimise health issues, enhance production and better represent commercial farm conditions, an important element in facilitating the acceptance of research results by commercial SBT farmers.

Related research


Assessing egg oiling as a long term management tool for overabundant Silver Gull populations interacting with Southern Bluefin Tuna aquaculture operations

1. Undertake a review and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) of over-abundant seabird population management strategies. This will be a project Stop/Go point to assess whether egg oiling provides the best management option for Silver Gull population control, and will determine whether the project proceeds...
University of Adelaide