Project number: 2008-202
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $287,876.00
Principal Investigator: Chris Bolch
Organisation: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Project start/end date: 30 Sep 2008 - 29 Sep 2011


Tasmania in 2005/06 was the largest producer of mussels in Australia; 31% of production and 42% of dollar value. This represents a three-fold increase in production and value of mussels in Tasmania over the past three years. Further to this, Spring Bay Seafoods is Australia largest mussel producer and processor; with consider capital investment into mussel production and processing. This project will directly address the issues of high and unpredictable mortality rates of blue mussel seed during the early nursery phase. There is a need in the hatcheries to develop techniques and approaches that maximise production of quality mussel seed, through informed decisions about how physical and biological conditions in the hatchery affect the health and growth of spat.

World-wide, mussel aquaculture ventures are largely supported by collection of wild juveniles. Several commercial shellfish hatcheries, in USA and Australia, produce small numbers of juvenile mussels to supplement wild collections. Until recently the demand and value of mussels has been too poor to warrant large scale hatchery production, and most shellfish hatcheries focus on higher value species, or species for which wild collection of juveniles is not possible, eg introduced oysters. Collection of spat from the wild imposes critical limits to the capacity of the mussel aquaculture industry to increase production and to control product quality and timing of supply to markets. Reliance on wild spat leaves the industry vulnerable to recruitment failure and restricts production to seasonal availability. In recent years there has been insufficient wild spat settlement to meet the demands of the expanding Tasmanian aquaculture mussel industry. The only way that the mussel industry can begin to compete against imported products and allow Australian consumers access to Australian product is through reliable hatchery production of quality-assured spat.


1. To improve reliability and nutritional quality of live food production for juvenile mussels.
2. To assess the effect of the nutritional status of pre-settlement mussels on rates of spat settlement, retention, growth, and survival
3. To identify biological and physical factors that affect rates of spat settlement, retention, survival, and growth in land-based nursery systems
4. To adapt and assess the value of a stress test as a tool to assess quality of spat at the end of the land-based nursery phase.
5. To determine and identify changes in Vibrio composition and numbers associated with mortality events in mussel spat.

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-86295-711-4
Author: Chris Bolch

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