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Looking Back On First Breeding Tiger Prawns

AUSTRALIA - CSIRO, through the Food Futures Flagship, was part of a group that produced the world's first domestically-bred crop of tiger prawns.

World first

Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, a Queensland prawn farm, has harvested the worlds first commercial crop of black tiger prawns grown from parent stocks bred and matured in captivity.

The harvest marks the success of a joint research project aimed at reducing the need to collect parent stocks from the wild a practice that means growers cannot fully control the prawn production process.

Director of Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, Mr Noel Herbst, says the 50-tonne harvest represents about 15 per cent of the farms annual production of black tiger prawns.

They are the third generation to be bred in our Logan River hatchery and their growth and survival has been as good, or better, than the progeny of wild-caught parents, Mr Herbst says.

The Flagships role

The prawns were the first successful crop to come from a Food Futures Flagship project aimed at developing methods for breeding from domesticated prawns. The research has been conducted by:

  • the Food Futures Flagship
  • the Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Bribie Island Aquaculture Research Centre.

Leader of the black tiger prawn domestication project, CSIRO's Dr Nigel Preston, says the research involved growing three generations of prawns to maturity in experimental tank, pond and indoor raceway systems. The trials in commercial ponds at Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture began in 200405.

Its all about trying to reproduce the kind of natural conditions and cues the prawns experience in the wild, in places such as the Gulf of Carpentaria and off eastern Queensland, Dr Preston says.

Factors such as water temperature and diet need to be just right in order to achieve the best possible rates of spawning and larval survival.

Industry and environmental benefits

Breeding prawn from domesticated stock, instead of growing them from eggs harvested from wild prawns, has several advantages for prawn farmers:

  • it frees them from depending on wild stocks, which are seasonal and erratic in supply, leading to improved consistency
  • it allows them to selectively breed prawns, to improve the product quality and production efficiency.

The research is expected drive industry earnings up by A$40 million by 2010.

Breeding from domesticate stock may also help relieve pressure on wild prawns. Tiger prawns are threatened in many parts of the world, partly due to overfishing.

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