Novacq prawn feed, developed by CSIRO, is helping Australian prawn farmers grow bigger, healthier prawns sustainably, faster and cheaper.
Boosting productivity while reducing prawn farmers' reliance on wild fish stocks
Until now, Australian prawn farmers have needed to feed their prawns with a pellet that included fish meal or fish oil to ensure the prawns grew fast and were a healthy and high-quality product for consumers. With the world's wild fish stocks under pressure, our scientists went looking for new and better ways to sustainably boost productivity.
An entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes
The research started in the late 1990s when CSIRO researchers observed the important role marine microbial organisms play in the natural diet of prawns. The team spent several years learning how to manipulate marine microbial organisms to maximise their productivity in controlled environments, and stimulating them to produce a novel bioactive product to enhance prawn growth.
The research integrated skills in prawn biology, microbiology, biochemistry and nutrition. The result was Novacq, an entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes.
Bigger, healthier, faster-growing prawns and a new Australian industry
Prawns fed with Novacq grow on average 20-30 per cent faster, are healthier and can be produced with no wild fish products in their diet. This means more profit for prawn farmers and less pressure on our precious marine resources. It has also stimulated a whole new industry in Australia: the production of sustainable prawn feed.
The first of a series of patents for the Novacq production technology was granted in 2009. Since then, the CSIRO Novacq team has worked closely with Australian and Asian prawn farmers and feed manufacturing companies to implement a global commercialisation strategy.
The production of Novacq has commenced under licence in Australia, and in China and Vietnam, two of the world's largest producers of farmed prawns. Additional markets for Novacq technology are under development in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Our Novacq licensees anticipate that the benefits of Novacq will be available to all Australian prawn farmers by 2015.
In 2014, the team that developed and commercialised Novacq was recognised with the CSIRO Medal for Impact from Science.
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