Australian black tiger prawn production could grow significantly if the new technology is adopted. (Photo: CSIRO)
Award-winning black tiger prawn bred
Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientists and the prawn industry have bred an improved and award-winning black tiger prawn reaching record yields in aquaculture farms.
These prawns have won five gold medals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the past two years, including the top award, ‘Champion of Show.’
Scientists from CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship used DNA technology to guarantee the breeding programme includes the best black tiger prawn stocks and boosts their performance each breeding season.
About half of all prawns sold in Australia are imported from countries such as China and Vietnam, so creating an Australian prawn that breeds in captivity and is completely sustainable majorly benefits the local prawn industry and consumers.
|Dr Nigel Preston (Photo: CSIRO)
“The average industry productivity for farmed prawns is only five tonnes per ha, so this year's average yield of 17.5 tonnes per ha is a major leap forward,” said Dr Nigel Preston, leader of the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship prawn research project.
Several ponds of CSIRO's industry partners, Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (GCMA), yielded 20 tonnes per ha and one produced a world record yield of 24.2 tonnes.
Preston said this prawn could revolutionise the local and international prawn farming industry.
"These huge yields can be replicated year after year which means consistent supply of a reliable and high quality product,” he added.
Australia’s production could grow from 5,000 to 12,500 tonnes, adding AUD 120 million (USD 104.8 million) annually to the industry’s value by 2020, if all the Australian black tiger prawn industry adopted the new technology.
"Not only have we achieved national and international yield records with no reduction in quality or taste, these prawns are grown in a specially designed, environmentally sustainable production system,” General Manager of GCMA Nick Moore said. “This production system and the new breeds have produced a perfect prawn with beautifully textured meat, rich colour, robust size and a great taste.”
Australia's population predicted to reach 35 million by 2050, and Director of CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship Dr Bruce Lee said the challenge is thus to help the country secure its own food supply and be competitive in global food markets. This achievement is just the beginning, he said.
“Of particular significance to Australia is that marine aquaculture is a drought-proof industry and there’s huge potential for the environmentally and economically sustainable expansion of pond-based aquaculture farms right around the Australian coastline,” he commented.
Until recently, wild black tiger prawns could not be bred in captivity, so prawn farmers had to catch wild prawn parents each season to stock farm ponds with their progeny.
The project received a AUD 500,000 (USD 436.7 million) Smart State Innovation Projects Fund grant in 2008. This grant enabled CSIRO to expand its work with GCMA to Australian Prawn Farms and Pacific Reef Fisheries.
CSIRO is Australia's national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.
By Natalia Real