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University Invests Into Aquaculture Research Initiative

AUSTRALIA - Deakin University will invest $5million over the next five years in an initiative set to place its Warrnambool Campus in the international spotlight for marine and aquaculture research and teaching.

This major investment will position the Universitys Warrnambool Campus as a local, national and international centre for excellence in marine science and aquaculture research, according to Professor Chris Gray, Deakins Pro Vice-Chancellor (Science and Technology).

The Universitys fisheries and aquaculture research was judged as above world standard by the Australian Research Councils Excellence in Research for Australia this year. The plan now is to build on the existing strengths to move Deakins research to well above world standard, Professor Gray said.

The investment we are making in state-of-the-art facilities will hopefully attract industry investment and research collaborators interested in investigating the unique southern ocean marine ecosystems literally at our doorstep in Warrnambool. It will also elevate the international reputation of Deakin and the Warrnambool Campus and benefit the excellent courses we run, including marine biology, freshwater biology and the new fisheries and aquaculture degree.

Deakin has a strong background of research and teaching in aquatic science and aquaculture, mostly conducted at its Warrnambool Campus. Current projects include marine habitat mapping, sustainability of coastal and marine ecosystems, fisheries biology, aquaculture production, ecology and management of estuaries, and wildlife ecology, particularly related to seabirds, seals and whales. In 2010, more than 40 students graduated from the marine biology course, including honours.

Over the next five years Deakin will invest in new equipment and the recruitment of additional research and technical staff to support the expansion of its research and teaching activities.

We will be upgrading our current facilities to include the most up-to-date boat equipped for oceanographic research, such as a multibeam sonar system and animal tracking and other remote sensing equipment, explained Gerry Quinn, Deakins professor of marine biology based in Warrnambool.

The Universitys aquaculture facility will also be upgraded to include a marine laboratory and enhanced genetic and fish nutrition facilities.

Upgrading the aquaculture research facility to use seawater, as well as its current freshwater operations, will provide Deakin with some of the best integrated marine science and aquaculture research and teaching infrastructure in the world. This will open us up to a range of research opportunities and attract more industry collaborations, Professor Quinn said.

Research over the next five years will capitalise on the Universitys location in Warrnambool.

A particular focus will be larger-scale ecosystem research, especially understanding how physical changes in ocean systems, such as in Bass Strait, affect marine life and commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Universitys aquaculture research will look into two main areas: the nutritional requirements of aquaculture fish, especially how to maintain the productivity and key health-giving benefits of fish without relying on wild-caught fish for aquaculture feed; and how aquaculture can be used to help treat wastewater and produce useful by-products.

the Fish Site Editor

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