A natural seaweed feed supplement may hold the key to boosting the health of farmed prawns, and potentially other species, and improving the industry’s profitability and environmental footprint.
This potential will be investigated by Dr Valentin Thépot, winner of the Fishing and Aquaculture Award that is sponsored by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) as part of the 2022 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
FRDC Managing Director Dr Patrick Hone presented Dr Thépot’s award today at the virtual ABARES Outlook 2022 conference and congratulated him on developing a project that could contribute to new aquaculture ventures for Indigenous people in northern Australia.
‘This project could deliver benefits for aquaculture including better animal health, improved profits and reducing reliance on marine and terrestrially sourced feed ingredients’, Dr Hone said.
Dr Thépot said that his project would test if the benefits he found using a red seaweed supplement for fish could be replicated with farmed prawns and other farmed species.
‘Australia is free of many diseases that are crippling prawn farms overseas, however, the outbreak of incurable white spot syndrome virus in Queensland shows we need solutions for disease management and prawn welfare that don’t compromise productivity.’
Dr Thépot said he found a 400 per cent increase in immunity and a 19 per cent boost in growth when the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis, was included at less than 3 per cent in the diet of Atlantic Salmon and a tropical herbivorous species, rabbitfish.
‘My project will evaluate if this feed innovation translates from fish to tiger prawns, Australia’s most valuable farmed crustacean, and if it can also be used in feeds for emerging aquaculture species in northern Australia, including Ornate Rock Lobster and Sea Cucumber.’
‘It will also assess the financial benefits from productivity improvements, which has global significance, given that aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food producing sector‘, he said.
Dr Thépot will run the tiger prawn trial at the University of the Sunshine Coast and concurrent trials on the Ornate Rock Lobster, a novel aquaculture candidate for the Northern Territory and most specifically for the Anindilyakwa community on Groote Eylandt.
Dr Thépot has worked for 13 years in the aquaculture sector and is a researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast and the aquaculture coordinator for the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory.
The 2022 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry program aims to encourage the uptake of science, innovation and technology in primary industries, attract innovative research proposals and improve the application or research by industry. Winners are funded to pursue their nominated projects.