Project number: 2009-744
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $0.00
Principal Investigator: Luke Turner
Organisation: Tasmanian Seafoods Pty Ltd Smithton
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2010 - 30 Mar 2014


TSF holds all NT commercial sandfish licenses. TSF aims to double the current production of sea cucumbers through ranching/stock enhancement initiatives. This commitment is demonstrated by the history of investment by TSF over the past 5 years. Two millions dollars has been spent in developing commercial-scale hatchery capacity at the DAC and nursery capacity at a pond-based facility nearby. To ensure the commercial viability of this enterprise there are researchable constraints to be addressed. These are within the area of hatchery and nursery production efficiency and ranching methodologies.

Considerable work has been published on suitable methodologies for the hatchery production of sandfish (Agudo 2006). However, much of this work has been developed by hatcheries in the Asia-Pacific region where methods achieve 5-10% survival from egg to settlement.

TSF has conducted a series of semi-commercial production runs using methodologies developed in the Asia-Pacific and achieved only 5-10% survival. This poses a significant economic constraint to the company’s aim to develop the capacity to produce 300,000 juveniles annually for release programs. A target of 30% survival has been set.

Nursery production is currently a bottleneck and is labour intensive. The area required per juvenile for optimal growth means that an extensive methodology has been adopted in developing countries. This involves either holding animals in fine mesh pens that float in ponds or growing juveniles out in the larval tanks. Maintenance is labour intensive, difficult to monitor and survival is low. In addition, significant mortality occurs during the transfer of juveniles from hatchery to nursery. There is a need to develop a cost effective, efficient nursery production system and improve on methodologies.

The technical feasibility of ranching in Australian tropical conditions is also unknown. Research is needed to identify the best ranching practises to maximise survival, growth and retrieval rate.

Final report

Authors: William M. Bowman Luke H. Turner Grant R. Leeworthy Ann Fleming Jens Knauer Michelle Simoes Andrea L. Birch Mike Gardner
Final Report • 2014-03-31 • 2.26 MB


Tasmanian Seafoods has identified stock enhancement as a means to improve the viability of sea cucumber harvesting operations in Northern Australia. Successful enhancement of the fishery has the potential increase catches, reduce harvesting time, and improve the operational efficiency and management of the sea cucumber harvesting business in the Northern Territory.

Considerable work has been published on suitable methodologies for the hatchery and nursery production of sandfish. However, much of this work has been developed by hatcheries in the Asia-Pacific region where there is extreme variability in survival and growth. While much research has been published recently on methods for scaling up the production of temperate species of sea cucumber, the development of technology for culturing tropical species has lagged. Developing improved hatchery and nursery production protocols will compliment a commercial stock enhancement operation through increasing survival rates, increasing production capacity, and ensuring continuity in production year round.

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