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The team of scientists from SARDI who have produced hatchery raised mussel spat in Southern Australia. (Photo: SARDI)

First SA mussel hatchery in the works

Click on the flag for more information about Australia AUSTRALIA
Friday, December 03, 2010, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Scientists from the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI) have produced hatchery raised mussel spat to help develop SA’s first commercial mussel hatchery. This could provide consumers with meatier mussels year-round.

The mussel spat were moved to Port Lincoln for grow-out. The trials will examine the feasibility of a hatchery to slash risk and increase production for the state’s budding mussel industry.

In October, some 70 male and female broodstock spawned 6 million spat that were reared on ropes in tanks at the SARDI Aquatic Sciences Centre at West Beach. 

These spat will grow to market size within 12 months after being on-grown at commercial farms in Boston Bay, seaward of Boston Bay and off the coast of Wallaroo, to study their performance.

Four week old mussel spat. (Photo: SARDI)

SA Mussel Growers Association researcher Jon Bilton is watching over the spat settled onto ropes inside the tanks at SARDI. He believes a commercial hatchery is “the way of the future.”

“A hatchery will give growers much more security by reducing the risks inherent in sourcing mussel larvae from the wild, and provide greater opportunities to increase production levels by having spat available over a longer period of each year,” he elaborated.

"You can pick out mussels that have higher meat ratios," Bilton added, Adelaide Now reports.

Mark Andrews, a mussel grower in Boston Bay, concurs. 

“The industry has traditionally collected spat from the wild, lowering ropes to catch the larvae in selected locations during winter. But so many factors can impact the numbers we catch from currents to climate variations, as well as fouling of the ropes which prevents spat from settling, or it overgrows them after settlement,” he explained.

“This year, there’s been a lack of sunshine, which has reduced the abundance of microalgae in the sea, which in turn effects broodstock condition and larval and spat production,” Andrews noted.

Constructing a commercial mussel hatchery is a significant investment for the industry, Bilton said, with establishment costs circling AUD 0.5 million (USD 484,000). 

An SA mussel farmer provided SARDI with the mussel broodstock. The researchers then conditioned the mussels for spawning in their hatchery over two weeks last month. 

At fist, 200 mussels were spawned one by one to make sure only the best quality gametes and the appropriate sperm and egg ratio were used.

Previously, a similar procedure was employed by SARDI for research on cryopreservation of various shellfish species, breeding Pacific oysters and to assess the viability of culturing cockles.

The scientists are feeding the mussel larvae and subsequent spat diverse microalgal species, which they are also growing.

SARDI scientist and Genetics, Reproduction & Biotechnology Subprogramme Leader Dr Xiaoxu Li called the mussel larval production very successful, with almost an 80 per cent survival rate and outstanding growth to the competent larval stage. They developed quickly, he said.

The scheme is being carried out by Kinkawooka Mussels, SA Seafoods and Flinders Seafoods jointly with SARDI Aquatic Sciences.

By Natalia Real
[email protected]



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