This project has been recognised as a national priority by the Australian/State/Territory governments and industry through AQUAPLAN 2014-2019 — "Activity 3.3 Undertake aquatic animal health benchmarking for specific aquaculture sectors". This project aims to undertake benchmarking in a range of engaged sectors and provide feedback to individuals on their farm performance and ranking within the industry to demonstrate how production and health parameters can be improved upon. This project has strong links with other AQUAPLAN objectives such as Objective 1: "Improving Regional and Enterprise - level Biosecurity". There is strong evidence (particularly in terrestrial industries) of the linkage between animal health and productivity (for example the Rushton review, 2009)
Initial discussions with a range of industries (including abalone, barramundi and Murray cod), has indicated that for many players an intuitive and secure system for recording farm productivity and health data is desirable and a first step towards farm benchmarking for health and productivity.
The level of data collection on farms varies: from minimal collection, to farms recording information but not using it to review farm performance, to larger companies such as Yumbah abalone where benchmarking is utilised at a company level to monitor performance and take corrective action where required. These benchmarks may include factors including mortality rates, growth rates and other health and production statistics (e.g. feed conversion efficiency). This lack of coordinated data collection impedes individual farms in assessing and comparing their disease risk/status and overall performance both within farm and with the industry in general. Furthermore, if data collection and benchmarking was routinely undertaken in Australian aquaculture industries there would be opportunities for producers to learn from other industry members how best to increase productivity and reduce biosecurity risks on individual farms and across the industry as a whole.
This project aims to increase farm productivity and aid in the prevention and/or early detection of new and emerging diseases through robust data collection and benchmarking on abalone farms (pilot).