Project number: 2014-027
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $391,000.00
Principal Investigator: Xiaoxu Li
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 16 Jul 2014 - 29 Jun 2017


To help establish an improved basis for ecologically sustainable aquaculture development and ecosystem based resource management, there is a strong research need to a) determine what Pacific oysters, blue mussels and cockles consume in the unique, typically large, shallow, high salinity and apparently low productivity waters of South Australian (SA) bays, and b) understand the temporal and spatial fluctuation in food availability, and c) the relationship between food availability and Pacific oyster farm productivity. This need is driven by:
1) bivalves could not be included in the modeling of carrying capacity of Spencer Gulf mainly due to the lack of knowledge on the trophic function and feeding physiology of oysters;
2) the oyster industry has been experiencing average Pacific oyster mortalities between stocking and harvesting on an ongoing basis of 35% (up to 50%) in some areas, and believe this loss is associated with a complex interaction between food availability, oyster condition and a variety of biological, chemical and physical stressors; and
3) an interest of the State Government, industry and potential new aquaculture entrants to maximize the use of existing lease allocations and diversify the bivalve species farmed as a risk management strategy for a potential OsHV-1 µvar outbreak in SA. Additional Pacific oyster or new species stock will potentially increase competition for the limited available food.


1. Determine what Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas), blue mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and mud cockles (Katelysia sp) are feeding on in selected SA bays, and identify the overlap in food resource utilization among all 3 species.
2. Determine the temporal and spatial variability in the food availability of Pacific oysters, mussels and cockles in selected SA bays.
3. Determine key factors affecting oyster performance (growth, condition and survival) in selected SA bays.
4. Determine the factors regulating the relationship between oyster growth/condition and sustainable production in selected locations in SA.
5. Transfer the results of this project to interested stakeholders, in particular the SA oyster industry and SA Government aquaculture policy makers.

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