Project number: 2008-758
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $31,132.58
Principal Investigator: Nick A. Robinson
Organisation: Flinders University
Project start/end date: 29 Nov 2008 - 30 Mar 2009


The Australian barramundi industry (through ABFA) have long appreciated the potential for improving the sustainability and profitability of production through the appropriate implementation of genetic management and improvement of the species. However, previous attempts to develop a coordinated national strategy for this species have not met with success due to a poor understanding of possible models by which a breeding program within the industry can be implemented, the resources required for implementation and the potential benefits that will arise from a successful breeding program. ABFA views the investment in the Seafood CRC as an opportunity to catalyse efforts towards an industry wide approach to the sustainable and economically viable genetic management and improvement strategy for cultured barramundi.

ABFA prepared a TO for the proposed scoping study identifying the following needs and researchable constraints to the development of a barramundi genetic management/improvement strategy:

• lack of a broad, industry wide, understanding of the potential benefits (and risks) associated with genetic management and improvement
• a lack of a clear understanding of the resources (human, economic, infrastructure and genetic) required for the implementation of genetic management and improvement in this species
• gaps in knowledge required for the implementation of genetic improvement including key genetic parameters and economic weights of traits that could be improved.
• limited information on the genetic status of existing hatchery broodstock and thus their potential as founder stocks for genetic breeding programs
• lack of clear guidelines on appropriate genetic improvement strategies


1. To review existing barramundi-related genetic knowledge to identify relevant research and where the R&D gaps preventing instigation of barramundi breeding programs presently exist
2. To develop research options that will fill the knowledge gap currently impeding commencement of targeted breeding programs. This will be achieved through consultation with CRC R&D providers and industry.
3. To identify, through direct engagement with industry and R&D providers, the levels of infrastructure and resources that are available to undertake collaborative genetics related R&D
4. Undertake a genetic audit of available hatchery stocks, using established genetic marker systems, to provide a census of captured genetic variation and genealogical relationships among broodstock. This information will be essential for establishing commercial breeding programs, and could be used to identify suitable broodstock for CRC related research, if supported by the commercial company owning the fish.
5. To identify opportunities for additional industry investment in barramundi genetic improvement and related research through consultation with both ABFA and non-ABFA barramundi farmers and other industry groups and the stakeholders in the CRC Breeding for Profit Research Theme.
6. Undertake a prioritisation exercise to identify traits that should be targeted in future R&D and selection programs based on estimation of the economic weights of key traits and consultation with industry members.
7. Conduct a benefit cost analysis of the effective and appropriate implementation of genetic improvement strategies
8. Identify ABFA training needs in genetic management and improvement and raise awareness of the potential benefits of genetic improvement to the industry
9. Utilising all the information gathered in 1-8 above, identify one or more strategies for the implementation of a nationally coordinated genetic management and improvement program for cultured barramundi. The strategies to be prioritized, and implementation plans drafted, in consultation with ABFA.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9805789-1-1
Author: Dr Nick Robinson & Dr Dean Jerry
Final Report • 2009-03-01


The aim of this study was to review existing Barramundi-related genetic knowledge to identify relevant research and where the R&D gaps preventing instigation of Barramundi breeding programs presently exist. They identified and prioritised the research and steps that need to be taken to establish a sound program for genetic improvement of Barramundi farmed in Australia. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with selective breeding were analysed, a risk analysis performed and suggestions for risk management made. Barramundi genetic knowledge and constraints to Barramundi genetic improvement were reviewed. A research and development strategy, linking research topics into larger collaborative projects, was developed to address these issues. Some basic options for selective breeding were modelled and the benefit-costs compared. The models predict that even under these basic options, selective breeding would be profitable and of high benefit to the industry.

The study predicts that the continuously improved seedstock supplied by an industry wide selective breeding program for Australian Barramundi should stimulate expansion, raise profitability and improve international competitiveness of the industry.

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