Project number: 2018-118
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $40,000.00
Principal Investigator: Carmel McDougall
Organisation: Griffith University Nathan Campus
Project start/end date: 11 Oct 2018 - 29 Jun 2020


This project is directly aligned with the FRDC’s national research priority ‘Developing new and emerging aquaculture growth opportunities’. There is currently considerable interest from a number of sectors in the potential of tropical oyster aquaculture, and the blacklip oyster could represent a candidate species for the FRDC’s target of advancing ‘two or more emerging aquaculture species…’. This project will provide the required baseline data of species distributions that would be required for licence/permit applications to be granted. It will also extend R&D into hatchery production technologies for the blacklip, working towards addressing the current issue of poor larval settlement.

The project also aligns with the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priority to ‘develop internationally competitive, sustainable, profitable, high intensity and high production capacity in new and existing food products’. Molluscan aquaculture has the lowest environmental cost of all animal production sectors (Hilborn et al, 2018, Front. Ecol. Environ. 16:329-335), and therefore represents the best option for the development of new, sustainable animal food products.


1. Determine the distribution of Saccostrea species around the Queensland coast
2. Develop molecular tools to facilitate blacklip production

Final report

ISBN: 978-1-922361-05-9
Author: Dr. Carmel McDougall
Final Report • 2020-09-01 • 3.70 MB


The overall objective of this study is to provide critical background knowledge to support the reexpansion of Queensland oyster aquaculture, which has been experiencing low levels of production since the 1920s. Once the epicentre of the oyster industry in Australia (Schrobback, 2015), Queensland produced oysters now contribute only 0.8% to the total value of the Australian market (ABARES, 2020). The industry is predominately based on the cultivation of the Sydney rock oyster (SRO), and regularly suffers mass mortality events due to disease outbreaks. One potential course of action for the industry is to investigate the potential of other native species for aquaculture, however this is hampered by the lack of knowledge of the species that exist in Queensland, and of their natural distributions. The project outlined in this report was conducted by researchers from Griffith University with assistance from Queensland Museum (QM) staff and Queensland oyster growers, and was part of a larger Advance Queensland Fellowship directed towards ‘reinvigorating the Queensland oyster industry’. Here, we conducted the first comprehensive genetic survey of oyster species along the Queensland coast and found unexpected diversity. We also found one new species and a recent exotic introduction. In the second part of the project we advanced our understanding of the genetics of the ‘blacklip oyster’ (BL), demonstrating that many of the molecular tools developed for SRO production may be directly transferrable to this closely related species. The findings of this study have already been applied by state government agencies and paved the way for aquaculture of additional native species in Queensland.

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