Project number: 2017-051
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $350,000.00
Principal Investigator: Alison Turnbull
Organisation: SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
Project start/end date: 30 Jun 2017 - 11 Dec 2018


Recent projects on rocklobster and abalone have generated useful information that is now incorporated into their management programs. Australia is now better positioned to control risk in this area; however biotoxins still present an ongoing issue across a broad range of seafood types presenting both public health and market access risks. There are critical knowledge gaps in understanding uptake pathways for the toxins, the use of rapid test kits, the effects of processing and access to contaminated materials.
The following research questions have been identified by industry that could be supported through this facility :
Are the long-term closures currently implemented for abalone during A. tamarense blooms are necessary?
What level of reduction in PST occurs during canning? DAWR has indicated it could allow harvest for product destined for canning during bloom periods if this level were known.
Can the cost effective Neogen rapid test kit for PST be adapted for lobster hepatopancreas, significantly reducing monitoring costs?
Are PST levels in lobster haemolymph indicative of levels in the hepatopancreas, and there usable for non-destructive sampling?
Can we develop a model describing depuration time of PST in oysters in relation to temperature, salinity, flow rate and stocking densities to allow contaminated product to be depurated artifically prior to POMS season?
In addition, no information is currently available on the physiological impact of blooms on lobster and abalone, and may be able to be collected during the experiments.
There is also an on-going need for contaminated materials to support future research and quality assurance/quality control activities in this field. This will be particularly important for any industry run programs, as proposed with the rapid test kits.


1. Establish key infrastructure (a biotoxin contamination facility) able to be utilised concurrently by multiple industries (oysters, abalone and southern rock lobster) to resolve specific and varied issues related to biotoxins
2. Support future research and quality assurance programs through provision of a store of contaminated materials
3. Extend capability in biotoxin research in Australia
4. Resolve of at least one biotoxin related issue for each of the oyster, abalone and southern rock lobster industries

Research data

ISBN: 978-1-876007-12-6
Authors: Alison Turnbull Andreas Seger Gustaaf Hallegraeff and Navreet Malhi
Research data • 2019-03-01 • 2.00 MB


A short-term experimental biotoxin contamination facility was set up at Roseworthy, South Australia, to examine the uptake and depuration of marine biotoxins from one of the most toxic dinoflagellates known, Alexandrium catenella. Over the period of one year, SARDI’s Seafood Food Safety group successfully conducted several studies aimed at underpinning public health, market access or fisheries management in three iconic Australian seafood species impacted by recurrent blooms of this species: Southern Rock Lobster, Blacklip Abalone and Pacific Oysters. Issues specific to each industry were examined in a cost effective manner through sharing facility, staffing and bulk algal culturing costs. Significant volumes of toxic seafood tissues have been stored for future research

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