Tasmanian Seafoods Pty. Ltd. 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. To ensure the commercial viability of this enterprise there are researchable constraints to be addressed. These are within the broodstock maintenance. Currently, hatchery production relies on the seasonal supply of ripe broodstock from pond facilities or the wild. Attempts to mature sandfish broodstock in tanks have so far been unsuccessful and broodstock held in tanks for periods of greater than one month have declined in condition (Morgan, 2000). Recently however, anecdotal evidence suggests that under the right conditions it is possible for adult sandfish to mature in tanks and be used for hatchery production of juvenile sandfish. Identifying the factors and requirements for the maturation of broodstock H. scabra in controlled systems could enable year round supply of eggs for hatchery production and reduce the seasonal constraints on juvenile supply for ranching and stock enhancement programs in the NT.
The success rates reported for induced spawning events for sandfish are low (0-35%) increasing around peak natural spawning times (Battaglene et al., 2002). This poses a significant economic constraint to the company’s aim to develop the capacity to produce 300,000 juveniles annually for release programs. Research into the molecular signalling and communication involved during spawning could improve induction efficiencies and may lead to the identification and development of a hormonal spawning inducer for sandfish.
This thesis reports on an investigation of brood stock conditioning methods for the tropical sea cucumber Holothuria scabra. The project aims to advance the field of sea cucumber aquaculture by developing improved methods for the conditioning and spawning of brood stock.
There is great demand for sea cucumber products and that has seen the aquaculture production of the temperate species Apostichopus japonicus increase dramatically in the last decade, surpassing capture fisheries production. This increase in aquaculture production has not been mirrored for tropical species despite established methods for hatchery production and a large market demand. With wild harvests of sea cucumber unlikely to increase there is an opportunity to develop a substantial sea cucumber aquaculture industry in Northern Australia.