Project number: 2003-221
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $23,171.68
Principal Investigator: Ian Whittington
Organisation: Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)
Project start/end date: 30 Aug 2003 - 30 Apr 2009


This project is to develop a method for policies to be developed to monitor and manage parasite burdens across an entire industry.

Yellowtail kingfish production in South Australia in 2001/2 was approximately 1100 tonnes and is expected to increase to 5000 tonnes within 5 years. The potential risks associated with a rapidly growing industry are manifest and without scientifically based, whole-industry management and auditing systems the potential for commercial, environmental and public perception problems associated with pests are significant. Some negative perceptions regarding kingfish farming have already appeared in the media (e.g. Hunt, 2003). Industry research has concentrated on the production losses associated with monogenean infestations and while on-farm management is a vital part of a pest control system, assessment systems vary between farms in stage of development and accuracy.

Marine finfish growers in South Australia have agreed in-principle to a system whereby their farms are monitored externally by the state regulatory authority (Primary Industries and Resources SA) for skin and gill fluke numbers. Two methods have been proposed; one by which individual farms will take their own fluke counts and supply them to PIRSA (with occasional auditing/checks by PIRSA) and another by which PIRSA staff will make regular farm visits to make fluke counts. Policies will be implemented through include licence conditions enforceable under the Aquaculture Act, 2001 that form an integral part of the management framework of aquaculture in South Australia. Their support for this whole-industry monitoring is derived in part from emerging negative perceptions in the media that can be countered to some extent by cooperating with government to create a scientifically based, accurate, transparent system of monitoring and managing flukes on kingfish farms throughout South Australia.

Treasurer and Pope (2001) developed a system for counting salmon lice by visual inspection, but this system is not directly applicable to parasites that have microscopic juvenile stages, do not infect their hosts externally or are unable as adults to transfer between host individuals in a pen. The confounds associated with a chemical harvesting system are different to those of visual inspection by a trained observer and this difference needs to be assessed for the method being proposed by us to be successful.


1. Develop a prototype image analysis system for counting and sizing skin and gill flukes
2. Validate the accuracy of the system using manual counts and measurements
3. Compile a users manual
4. Establish policies and operating standards for the sustainable management of marine farms based on project data.
5. Provide training workshops to potential users.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-646-55907-0
Author: Ian Whittington

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