Project number: 2007-224
Project Status:
Completed
Budget expenditure: $204,757.29
Principal Investigator: Nigel Preston
Organisation: Australian Prawn Farmers Association (APFA)
Project start/end date: 29 Sep 2007 - 30 Oct 2010
Contact:
FRDC

Need

The economic viability of the Australian prawn farming industry is under threat because of the increased production of shrimp in south-east Asia and the substantial decrease in global prawn prices. The Australian industry is experiencing difficulty competing with imports – prawns can be landed from China and Thailand for $7 to $9 per kg, compared with the current cost of production in Australia of $5 to $12 per kg. In addition, the industry is under increasing pressure from environmental regulators to reduce the scale and impact of nutrient discharges from prawn farms.

The critical need is to develop a production technology for P. monodon that enables Australian prawn farmers to gain the same improvements in production efficiency that have been achieved overseas with P. vannamei with high intensity, zero discharge systems. The need for the proposed research is to gain an understanding of the chemical and physical processes occurring in the zero water exchange ponds so as to be able adapt and manage this novel production system for P. monodon. A reduction in nitrogen input into the pond throughout the entire growing season is a critical part in managing a zero water exchange pond system. This can be achieved through lower feeding rates and the use of low-protein feeds. However, this can only be achieved by managing the system so that the prawns get a substantial part of their nutrition from the microbial floc. Hence, there is a need to develop protocols to maximise the nutritional value of microbial flocs and their physical characteristics. In doing this, it will be possible to reduce the amount of feed used and its cost for the production of the prawns, thereby improving farm profitability.

Objectives

1. Determine the effects of variations in nutrient concentrations, carbon source and water exchange on microbial floc formation, composition and persistence in commercial P. monodon ponds.
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of different carbon sources for microbial floc formation in commercial ponds
3. Determine the nutritional benefits of microbial flocs to P. monodon reared in ponds and quantify the associated reduction in feed costs
4. Quantify the effects of low water exchange, microbial floc production system on the reduction in farm nutrient discharge and overall effects on farm profitability

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-925983-89-0
Author: David M. Smith and Matt West
Final Report • 2012-01-06
2007-224-DLD.pdf

Summary

The economic viability of the Australian prawn farming industry is under threat from increased production of farmed prawns in south-east Asia and the substantial decrease in global prawn prices.  The Australian industry is experiencing difficulty competing with imports; prawns can be landed from China and Thailand for about $8 per kg, compared with the current cost of production in Australia of about $10 per kg.  The industry is also under increasing pressure from environmental regulators to reduce the scale and impacts of sediment and nutrient discharges from prawn farms.  There is a critical need to develop production technology for black tiger prawns (Penaeus monodon) that enables Australian prawn farmers to gain the same improvements in production efficiency that have been achieved overseas with Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), with high intensity, low discharge systems.  Australian Prawn Farms Pty Ltd (APF) investigated the production technology used for L. vannamei and concluded that it was not suitable for Australian farming conditions and for the culture of P. monodon.  As a result, APF did some preliminary trials using their own ideas for a low water exchange system that was more suitable for P. monodon, with promising results.  However, to make further progress, there was a need for a broader and more extensive research effort than APF could do on its own without some external funding and scientific support.

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