Seafood CRC: Understanding and reducing the risk of paralytic shellfish toxins in Southern Rock Lobster

Project Number:



SARDI Food Safety and Innovation

Principal Investigator:

Jayne M. Gallagher

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





As noted in the background section, Paralytic Shellfish Toxins pose a significant economic risk to the rock lobster industry, the Tasmanian algal bloom in 2012/2013 resulted in losses to the seafood industry in the vicinity of $20million AUD and scientific data is critically needed to assist in minimising losses in future years. Knowledge on the how rock lobsters accumulate PSTs (e.g. trophic pathway) is crucial to underpin future management strategies, including validating the use of species which may be more readily gathered to indicate risk (e.g. the use of farmed or wild caught mussels). Additionally, there is limited information on the elimination of PSTs from Jasus edwardsii. This data would assist industry in an event where large volumes of product have been harvested and are being held in live-containment facilities, particularly in Australia where animals can be held for several weeks in tanks. Information on persistence in the wild will also underpin decisions on potential re-direction of fishing effort to non contaminated areas.


1. To provide management options for industry to reduce the impacts of algal blooms. These options will potentially include: in-tank elimination conditions, testing of sentinel species to obtain early warning etc

2. To reduce technical barriers to trade for Australian rock lobsters in key markets through using the risk assessment output of the project to negotiate risk based standards.

3. To enhance R&D capability on marine biotoxins and market access in Australia.

Understanding and Reducing the Impact of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins in Southern Rock Lobster

Final Report
Author(s):Thomas Madigan, Jessica Tan, Navreet Malhi, Cath McLeod, and Alison Turnbull
Date Published:March 2017
This report details the results of a multifaceted a research program led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). The work was undertaken to assist the rock lobster industry to understand food safety risks from a toxin naturally accumulated in the lobster hepatopancreas. The initial detection of the toxin resulted in closures of the commercial and recreational fisheries on the east coast of Tasmania in 2012. The research program comprised field sampling of lobsters and their prey organisms, experimental contamination in a biosecure facility, cooking studies, consumption assessments and a risk assessment exercise. The work was undertaken from August 2013 to February 2017. Keywords:  Jasus edwardsii, saxitoxin, paralytic shellfish poisoning, cooking studies, consumption, acute exposure assessment