Project number: 2006-227
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $306,872.65
Principal Investigator: Matt Cunningham
Organisation: Australian Seafood Industries Pty Ltd (ASI)
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2006 - 30 Jun 2009


The current ASI selective breeding strategy has operated successfully since 1998 (for 6 generations). It is now apparent that there are shortcomings to this strategy and major improvement is needed if the program is to be seen as “state of the art”. This proposal addresses three major needs identified as part of FRDC project 2005/227.

Firstly, there is a need to design a program that maximises profit. Selection for traits in the current ASI breeding program cannot be based on economic criteria because the economic values of Pacific oyster traits are unknown. There is a need to know the dollar value of current traits (growth rate, shape and uniformity) as well as the value of new traits. The program is unable to objectively select multiple traits without knowledge of economic weights. This proposal will use techniques used routinely in other industries to address this problem.

Secondly, there is a need to design a program that increases the rate of genetic gain. It has been estimated (FRDC project 2005/227) that gains per unit time could be doubled through addressing issues such as selection methodology, breeding population sizes, and the breeding cycle. This proposal will find the most cost effective alternatives for the Pacific oyster industry.

Thirdly, there is a need for specification of hatchery facilities which can accommodate the inclusion of additional breeding families and a data management system which complements systems for genetic evaluation and best mate allocation.

This project involves research and development of concepts which are entirely new to breeding programs for the Pacific oyster, or any other aquaculture industry. They are concepts which are well established in some land based industries. It is essential that these concepts are developed for aquaculture so that breeding programs can provide the best possible foundation for viable aquaculture industries.


1. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by developing a program that maximises economic gains and identifies the relative importance of traits known to be significant for the Australian Pacific oyster industry.
2. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by production of a spreadsheet to calculate the economic values of traits for Pacific oysters enabling regular updates and customization to individual regions.
3. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by determining the breeding strategy that delivers the best genetic gains for the Pacific oyster industry and fits within the resources available to ASI.
4. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by documenting the genetic gains possible with different oyster selective breeding strategies and the relative economic benefits of these different strategies.
5. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by developing specifications for a facility to produce the required number of families.
6. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by developing specifications for computer systems to support the breeding program (ie best mate allocation and genetic evaluation).
7. To upgrade and refine the ASI breeding program by updating the ASI Data base to accommodate the requirements of the revised breeding program.
8. The development of a model for data capture and processing for further development by ASI and consideration by other aquaculture sectors.
9. To update ASI's existing business plan on an annual basis, clearly outlining the future business case of ASI and detailing the copmpanies exit strategy from reliance on FRDC funding.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-921605-82-6
Authors: Peter Kube Matthew Cunningham Sonja Dominik Scott Parkinson Benjamin Finn John Henshall Rosie Bennett and Matthew Hamilton
Final Report • 2011-08-30 • 3.30 MB


The Australian national Pacific oyster selective breeding program commenced in 1998.  In 2005, after 6 generations of breeding, it was apparent that there were limitations to the breeding strategy.  The first was a lack of understanding of which genetic traits to select. Whilst the program was achieving genetic improvements in growth, little was known about which traits influenced grower profitability.  The second was a need to develop a breeding strategy that increased genetic gains and maintained inbreeding at safe levels.  And the third was a need for systems and tools to enable the breeding strategy to be efficiently implemented.  The purpose of this project was to address these limitations.

This project has resulted in significant changes to the ASI Pacific oyster breeding strategy. The breeding objective has changed and is now firmly focused on an economic outcome, which is to reduce the cost of production.  The size and structure of the breeding population has changed to allow greater genetic gains on a sustainable basis.  The goal is to produce 50 families per year and 42 families were produced for the 2009 year class, an increase from 24 families in the previous strategy.  A new nursery system has been implemented to produce the expanded population.  Data collection and storage systems have been completely revised to allow more efficient data collection, more efficient storage, and safeguards against data loss. A new genetic evaluation system has been implemented which will provide more accurate selections.  And a revised commercial deployment strategy has been implemented which will increase the supply of selectively bred spat to industry.

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