To improve the sustainability and productivity of Australia’s prawn industry, we bred the ‘perfect prawn’ and developed a new plant-based prawn feed.

The challenge

Food for farmed prawns is straining global fish stocks

Around 50 per cent of prawns eaten in Australia are imported from countries such as China and Vietnam.

Most of these imports are farmed prawns that have been produced using feeds containing wild-harvest fishmeal, putting strain on global fish stocks.

CSIRO and Australian industry partners saw an opportunity to improve the sustainability and productivity of Australia’s prawn farming industry and deliver improved, high-quality products to consumers.

Our response

New feed for a new prawn

We approached the challenge in two ways – breeding for a better prawn and developing a more sustainable prawn feed.

Farmed black tiger prawn in aquarium.

We bred the 'perfect prawn'.

Together with the Australian prawn farming industry we used cutting edge technology to selectively breed black tiger prawns, resulting in increased growth rates and disease resistance.

We developed Novacq™, a bioactive aquafeed ingredient, produced via the bio-conversion of low-value plant waste from agriculture.

The results

Healthier prawns, healthier environment

The engagement

Initial success was in partnership with Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, a Queensland prawn farm, with yields from the improved stocks of black tiger prawns more than double industry average.

The uptake of our new breeding technology has extended to several Australian companies, and is expected to increase with the projected expansion of the industry.

A research partnership with a shrimp breeding company in Asia is focusing on breeding resistance to prawn diseases. The knowledge will help the Australian prawn farming industry manage diseases.

Engagement with Ridley Aquafeeds is enabling production of NovacqTM for Australian prawn farmers and, as of early 2017, Ridley is taking the innovation to the rest of the world (with the exception of China and Vietnam). Other licensees are enabling commercialisation of NovacqTM technology in major prawn farming countries including China and Vietnam.

[Music plays and text appears:  We asked CSIRO]

[Image changes to show an outside shot of the Ridley warehouse and then moves to show people working inside]

Dr Matthew Briggs: The core business of Ridley Aqua Feed is to produce the best prawn diet for the Australian market. And our objectives are to make this as environmentally friendly and sustainable as we possibly can.

[Image changes to show Dr. Matthew Briggs, Technical Project Manager – Ridley AgriProducts]

And that's really where Novacq comes in to its own here.

[Music plays and image of people performing different tasks play on screen]

Novacq is a sustainably produced raw material. When included in to the prawn diet it increases the growth rate of the prawns and reduces their requirement for feed. So you're in effect feeding less feed to get more prawn.

CSIRO have spent the last ten years developing and patenting this product.  When we found out about the work they've done with that we asked CSIRO if we could become involved in the marketing and development of this product to satisfy our customers.

[Image changes to show Dr. Richard Smullen, Group Technical and R&D Manager – Ridley AgriProducts]

Dr Richard Smullen: What Novacq will allow us to do is have probably the most cost effective diet in the world.

[Image has changed back to Dr Matthew Briggs]

Dr Matthew Briggs: We can use this product to replace the scarce and increasingly expensive raw materials from the sea, the fish meal and the fish oil that is traditionally used in prawn diets with land based protein. And thereby produce a more environmentally friendly and effective feed.

[Image has changed back to Dr Richard Smullen and then shows the production line and finished bagged aqua-feed product]

Dr Richard Smullen: So kilo for kilo our diet is not only the most sustainable diet in the world with Novacq, but will also be the most cost effective diet in the world.

[Image has changed back to Dr Matthew Briggs]

Dr Matthew Briggs: This has been a real game changer for us here in Ridley. If it wasn't for the likes of CSIRO we wouldn't have Novacq and we wouldn't be in the position that we are today.  So overall, this R&D that is supported by CSIRO is absolutely fundamental to our industry. 

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here]

We asked CSIRO: Ridley Aqua-feed :  Ridley Aqua-feed on working with us

The impact

Together with our partners, we developed domesticated, selectively bred stocks of black tiger prawns with improved growth rates, disease tolerance and market quality. Yields of our black tiger prawns are 39 per cent higher compared with farmed wild prawns.

Few organisations have the multidisciplinary capability to cost effectively apply genetics, disease and nutrition capabilities to change an industry.

Prawns fed with Novacq™ grow on average 20–40 per cent faster, are healthier and can be produced with no wild fish products in their diet, a world-first achievement in sustainability.

Productivity gains have made Australian black tiger prawns more competitive with imported shrimp.

We are now also researching Novacq™ technology for not just crustaceans but other species as well.

Download Printable version: Aquaculture feed and prawn breeding impact case study [pdf · 1mb].

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