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 CSIRO logo and text appears: Taking NovacqTM prawn feed to the world]

[Images move through of a truck parked at the Ridley Aqua Feed Mill, workers inside the mill, a male shovelling feed and the feed on the shovel and the feed in his hand]

[Images move through of Larry Marshall talking to the camera and holding up a specimen container of prawn feed, two workers talking and workers walking towards each other and shaking hands and text appears: Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive, CSIRO]

Dr Larry Marshall: The Novacq story is a really fantastic example of CSIRO research partnering with Australian business to take a breakthrough innovation to the entire world. 

[Images move through of a male on a forklift, the forklift picking up a bale of aqua-feed, workers in the mill, people carrying buckets, Larry Marshall talking and feed being run through the fingers]

Ridley is the world’s leading producer and supplier of CSIRO invented Novacq and CSIRO has now licensed Novacq to all prawn feed markets globally, opening up all types of new opportunities for Ridley and delivering significant economic returns for Australia.

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Matthew Briggs, Technical Project Manager, Ridley Corporation]

Dr Matthew Briggs: Novacq is a sustainably produced raw material. 

[Images move through of specimen containers of different types of prawn food, a container of pellets, the different types of prawn food again and prawns moving around underwater]

When included into the prawn diets it increases the growth rate of the prawns and reduces their requirement for feed. 

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

So, you’re in effect feeding less feed to get more prawn. 

[Image changes to show a male walking on a pathway next to a prawn farming operation and then images move through of people walking down a corridor and a male catching a prawn in a small net]

CSIRO have spent the last ten years developing and patenting this product. 

[Camera zooms in on the prawn and then the image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera and then the image changes to show three prawns being held in the hand]

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. 

[Music plays and images move through of a male working on a laptop, a prawn being weighed and Dr Richard Smullen talking to the camera and text appears: Dr Richard Smullen, Group Technical and R & D Manager, Ridley Corporation]
 
Dr Richard Smullen: What Novacq will allow us to do is have probably the most cost-effective diet in the world.

[Images move through of Dr Richard Smullen looking down and then feeling the prawn feed between his fingers, laptop screen displays of prawn growth and Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera]
 
Dr Larry Marshall: Prawns fed with Novacq grow 20% to 40% faster and are healthier and can be produced with reduced wild fish products in their diet and that means more profit for prawn farmers but less pressure on our precious marine resources.

[Image changes to show Tim Hart talking to the camera and then images move through of a large prawn farming operation and text appears: Tim Hart, CEO Ridley Corporation]
 
Tim Hart: As a result of our strategic R & D alliance with CSIRO, we have decided to significantly invest in our operations in Yamba in New South Wales and also in Chanthaburi in Thailand. 

[Images continue to move through of a prawn farming operation and then the image changes to show a tap running water into the prawn farm area]

Our production and processing facility in Thailand gives us an ideal opportunity to scale up production in an ideal environment close to Asia’s large prawn industry. 

[Images move through of the running water, a machine picking up sacks of feed, a sack of feed moving along a conveyer belt and Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

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.

[Images move through of Dr Richard Smullen talking to the camera, a male working inside the feed mill, a sack of feed moving along a conveyer belt and a worker inside the factory]

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 changes to show Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera]

Larry Marshall: As part of our long term research alliance with Ridley, we’re now also exploring how Novacq could benefit other species beyond just crustaceans.

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

Dr Matthew Briggs: This has been a real game changer for us here in Ridley. 

[Image changes to show prawns moving around underwater]

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. 

[Image changes to show Dr Matthew Briggs talking to the camera]

So, overall this R & D that is supported by CSIRO is absolutely fundamental to our industry.

[Image changes to show an aerial view of the feed mill operation and then the image changes to show a pallet of feed sacks and then the image changes to show Tim Hart talking to the camera]

Tim Hart: For us, Novacq is a true success story of research and industry coming together to commercialise a novel feed ingredient that will significantly benefit the Australian and international prawn industries.

[Image changes to show Dr Larry Marshall talking to the camera and holding up a specimen container of prawn feed]

Larry Marshall: So, on Christmas in future, it might not just be the prawns on your barbie that have grown up on Novacq but the entire seafood buffet.

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]




Taking NovacqTM prawn feed to the world

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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