Project number: 2003-216
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $95,980.00
Principal Investigator: Martin Hernen
Organisation: South Australian Marine Finfish Farmers Association Inc
Project start/end date: 12 Aug 2003 - 30 Apr 2005


A Yellowtail Kingfish Aquaculture Industry R&D Committee has been established which includes representatives of industry, State and Commonwealth Governments and the scientific community. The Committee has recognised disease management and disease risk identification as high priorities in a 2003-2008 draft Strategic R&D Plan, presently under development. These are in line with the research and development priorities for aquaculture identified by the South Australian Fisheries Research Advisory Board. Targeted priorities that this project will address within industrial development include, fish health, farm husbandry, and public perception. With regard to natural resource sustainability, this project will help in environmental protection and will contribute to the development of best environmental practices.

Prevention is the best and most cost-effective strategy for managing disease. Furthermore, Australia’s lack of vaccine and drug availability to aquaculture makes other forms of prevention the only viable option for Australia. There are four requirements that must be addressed in order to have an effective preventive program. First, one must be able to anticipate the problems one may face. A preliminary assessment of the risks of disease development and amplification is an important first step. Second, the knowledge of accurate identification of clinical symptoms and pathology by trained farm staff allows a mechanism for early detection and categorization of potential fish health problems. Third, the mechanism is an ongoing system of vigilant observation and recording in the form of action-based detection of emerging changes. Finally, one must identify actions that should be taken in response to laboratory and disease-related findings.

Before recommending the best disease management practices, one must first inventory the industry needs and identify the gaps in knowledge and infrastructure that limit capacity to achieve disease control objectives.


1. To review and compile Yellowtail Kingfish health information from the industry, scientific literature and both national and international research organisations.
2. Determine the objectives and needs of a generic farm-level YTK disease identification programme, with acknowledgement that surveillance may, in the future, be expanded to industry and government levels.
3. dentify the obstacles and opportunities for the recognition and diagnostic confirmation of YTK diseases.
4. Provide the YTK industry with a qualitative and relative fish health risk assessment, and propose generic health management control measures.

Final report

ISBN: 0-9757767-1-1
Author: Mark E. Sheppard
Final Report • 2005-10-11 • 1.63 MB


Since 1999, the kingfish (YTK, Seriola lalandi) aquaculture industry has been a significant investor in South Australia’s regional economy. Currently, the annual YTK production is 2,000 tonnes and is anticipated to approach 7,000 tonnes by 2008 with a retail value of $55 million. The industry provides both direct and indirect jobs for up to 1050 workers in regional communities. Although still in its infancy, this aquaculture industry has been a major success story in the expansion of the Australian seafood and food-animal industries, and there is tremendous potential for the continued development of a sustainable and economically successful Australian finfish aquaculture industry. However, international experience has shown that one of the most pervasive and persistent limits to the growth and viability of a new finfish sector is disease. To date, the YTK industry of South Australia has enjoyed limited losses due to disease, nevertheless, anticipating, preventing and dealing with future diseases is a priority of industry, government and researchers. Consequently, disease identification, risk analysis and health management were deemed key approaches for this FRDC project.

The literature review, risk analysis, guidelines to management and photographic pathology book have stimulated a much greater awareness of potential and future needs, opportunities and safeguards for the YTK aquaculture industry of South Australia for PIRSA, researchers and diagnostic service personnel. This project may form the basis for (or at least stimulate) further applied R&D and the development of tools to control diseases. The development of best management practices, integrated health management procedures, disease surveillance programs or amendments to current fish health regulations may also arise, provided industry and government bodies work as partners with mutual intentions.

Keywords: aquaculture, yellowtail, kingfish, Seriola lalandi, disease, fish health, risk analysis.

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