Bred in captivity, a black tiger prawn.

Bred in captivity, a black tiger prawn.

New generation tiger prawns tamed on-farm

Reference: 06/86

CSIRO's part in a collaborative project which has produced the world's first domestically-bred crop of tiger prawns is almost certain to lead to major improvements in the quality and consistency of the Australian product.

  • 4 May 2006

A Queensland prawn farm has harvested the world’s first commercial crop of black tiger prawns grown from parent stocks bred and matured in captivity.

The harvest marks the success of joint research 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, Noel Herbst, says the 50-tonne harvest represents about 15 per cent of the farm’s 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.

“It means we no longer rely entirely on parent stocks collected at sea, which are seasonal and erratic in supply, so our production will be more consistent. The other big advantage is that with control of the breeding cycle we can choose the best prawns to breed from to improve product quality and production efficiency.”

Black tiger prawns are the most popular farmed prawn in Australia. Their domestication has been achieved in research partnerships between scientists, industry and the Australian Government through the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation.

The industry partners are Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, Seafarm Pty Ltd and the Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association. The research has been conducted by CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Bribie Island Aquaculture Research Centre.

Black tiger prawns are the most popular farmed prawn in Australia.

Leader of the black tiger prawn domestication project and CSIRO flagship theme leader, 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 2004–2005.

“It’s 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.”

Dr Preston says the success of the collaborative project highlights Australia’s world-class expertise in this highly competitive area of prawn research.

“Uptake of the new technology by more farms will be invaluable to the industry,” he says. “The next challenge is to develop and implement selective breeding programs that will further improve the quality and consistency of Australian-grown black tiger prawns.”

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