The first phase of the Aquaculture Nutrition Subprogram (ANS) has demonstrated a strong need for technical inputs into the strategic direction and methodology applied to the nutrition components of both species and non-species based research programs. Without a coordinated subprogram approach to this research portfolio, the FRDC would have been unable to develop a collaborative program with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to characterise and produce vegetable protein alternatives to fish meal, nor would it have been able to standardize the methodologies and research approach for aquaculture nutrition in Australia with involvement from all relevant scientists. The subprogram is also addressing “market failure” in the areas of training and communication in the field of aquaculture nutrition, with a firm emphasis on empowering end-users of aquafeeds with basic nutritional and feed processing knowledge. The ANS needs to be maintained in a similar format to the first phase in order to capitalize on many of the initiatives that were implemented during the first 3 years of the project, but with less emphasis on the facilitation and maintenance on a core of research projects.
The need for on-going research into aquaculture nutrition and the need to maintain or enhance the technical standard and direction of this research is emphasized by the fact that Australian aquaculture industries still have a heavy reliance on imported nutrition technologies, feeds and ingredients for the supply of nutrients to target species. This includes feed manufacturing technologies, ingredients such as bait fish, fish meals, crustacean meals and fish oils, and complete feeds such as those utilised by the prawn industry. Not only does this create issues in relation to imported disease risks, continuity of supply and cost, but it means that many local products are being under utilised. Given the broad range of issues associated with the provision of aquaculture diets, the real cost of aquaculture diets in Australia will only be reduced through the delivery of well-targetted, strategic research. The infancy of the Australian aquaculture industries also means that a coordinated research approach is required to maximise the outcomes from research investment in the area.
The Aquaculture Nutrition Subprogram was established in 2001 to maintain communication and momentum in aquaculture nutrition research in Australia, and to ensure focused investment in this research discipline and optimum return on research investment. This has continued over the past 3 years as a result of activities conducted as part of this latest application. These have included funding application and final report reviews, facilitation and participation in conferences, meetings with industry groups and representatives to develop strategic plans with respect to nutrition research, support and advice with the development of research projects and the development of a nutrition Masterclass. In addition, a priority mapping workshop has outlined current nutrition research priorities and defined new priorities for implementation between 2007-2012 to ensure research stays focused and relevant into the future.
Keywords: aquaculture, nutrition