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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Aquaculture research and development

DPIRD’s Aquaculture Research and Development team (the Aquaculture R&D team) comprises a core team of 23 scientists, managers and technicians across the disciplines of marine finfish, marine shellfish, freshwater aquaculture and aquaculture health. 

The Aquaculture R&D team assists the Western Australian aquaculture industry to increase its productivity and market competitiveness by supplying juvenile fish and shellfish spat for start-up commercial operators and conducting applied research and development projects.

The Aquaculture R&D team operates three commercial and research hatcheries that supply a range of species to industry and undertakes cutting edge research to support industry development across regional Western Australia.

The Aquaculture R&D team operates out of six sites between Albany and Geraldton and provides juvenile fish and shellfish to companies throughout the State.

Commercial products include:

  • one million juvenile barramundi per annum to an operator in the Kimberley region;
  • juvenile yellowtail kingfish for the commercial start-up of an operator in Geraldton;
  • rainbow and brown trout for recreational fishing opportunities in the South West of WA; and
  • tropical oyster spat to a trial project in the Pilbara.

Research services provided by the Aquaculture R&D team to industry include Commonwealth-supported research projects for kingfish, oysters and pearl oyster health. The Aquaculture R&D team prides itself on working very closely with industry partners and concentrating on key issues that are barriers to industry expansion.

The WA State Government has recognised that ‘Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food production sector’ and ‘…will support these industries to grow their share of these markets.’

Specifically, the WA State Government has:

  • commissioned the Albany Shellfish Hatchery at the Albany Aquaculture Park, Frenchman’s Bay, which has led to significant investment in marine shellfish production in Albany, Cockburn Sound, Carnarvon and the Pilbara;
  • established the Aquaculture R&D team within the Industry and Economic Development Pillar of DPIRD, with world-class staff and facilities to support the expansion of the aquaculture industry;
  • established a state-of-the-art fish health laboratory at the DPIRD research facility at Waterman to boost fish health and diagnostic capability to support the aquaculture industry; and
  • contributed to a design and construction project for the Geraldton Aquaculture Nursery to support the development of the marine finfish aquaculture industry in the Mid-West.

Why Western Australia needs to increase its aquaculture production

Twenty years ago, Western Australia was the leading seafood state by production in Australia; it can no longer make that claim.

Production graph.jpg

This is, in part, because “Western Australia has not followed a national trend in aquaculture development…”

 “In 2013-14, Western Australia’s wild-catch and aquaculture fishery industry produced GVP of just under A$500 million, second only to Tasmania’s A$730 million industry. However, whereas aquaculture production accounts for 76 percent of the GVP of the Tasmanian industry, it only accounts for 15 percent of the GVP of the Western Australian industry. Further, Western Australia’s aquaculture production is concentrated in the Pinctada maxima pearl sector which produces annual GVP of approximately A$60 million. On a seafood only basis, aquaculture accounts for approximately only three percent of the value of seafood produced in Western Australia, representing the lowest aquaculture to wild-catch production ratio of any Australian state or territory. Nationally, Western Australia accounts for only 1.3 percent of national aquaculture seafood production.”

(State Aquaculture Research, Training and Service Delivery Capabilities, Report to Government by Australian Venture Consultants, 2016).

Aquaculture R&D Structure within DPIRD

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Last modified: 19/11/2020 2:27 PM


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