Project number: 2008-746
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $547,079.20
Principal Investigator: Jian Qin
Organisation: Flinders University
Project start/end date: 14 Jul 2008 - 29 Sep 2010


Yellowtail Kingfish culture is a rapidly expanding industry in Australia, particularly in rural South Australia, where it is driving the increase in the ‘other’ category of aquaculture production from ~1100 tonnes valued at ~$9 million in 2002-03 to 2000 tonnes and $17 million in 2004-05 (ABARE, 2006). Regarding future production, CST alone are projecting an increase in annual production towards 8,000 T by 2015.

CST is the largest producer of Yellowtail Kingfish in Australia having produced over 1.25 M juveniles in 2007. The company operates two Yellowtail Kingfish hatcheries at Arno Bay and Port Augusta. The production of quality larvae from hatcheries underpins the production of farmed fish and low survival and high levels of malformations significantly increase costs.

Survival of Yellowtail Kingfish juveniles in Australian marine hatcheries is very low in comparison to many other marine species such as sea bass and bream produced in larger more mature industries, for example in Europe. Of particular note, several skeletal malformations have been reported in Australia and New Zealand, although few are well documented (Yellowtail Kingfish, Cobcroft et al., 2004).

There is also high variability in hatchery survival rates and the rate and severity of deformities among production runs and commercial hatcheries.

By way of illustration, the direct benefit to Clean Seas Tuna Ltd. of reducing malformations in Yellowtail Kingfish is estimated to be $1 million p.a. In this example a reduction in malformations from 40% to 20% (on 2.0 M juveniles before quality grading) could produce a further 400,000 good quality juveniles @ $2.50 (market value) = $1,000,000.


1. To identify improvements to be made to commercial scale YTK larval and juvenile rearing systems and procedures resulting in higher survival (&gt
25% by end 2010), better growth, reduced levels (&lt
5% by end 2010) and severity of malformations and more cost efficient juvenile production.
2. To assess the suitability of some novel larval and juvenile rearing techniques for YTK: recirculating intensive larval rearing system with semi-automatic feeding, artificial light, algal paste, small rotifer, high prey density and early weaning.
3. To test a range of key biotic and abiotic factors and rearing strategies on YTK larvae and juveniles in replicated tanks and identify optimal regimes for adoption in commercial scale hatcheries.

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