Boosting productivity while reducing prawn farmers' reliance on wild fish stocks
Australian prawn farmers need to feed their prawns with a pellet that includes fish meal or fish oil to ensure the prawns grow fast and are 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 NovacqTM, an entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes.
Bigger, healthier, faster-growing prawns and a new Australian industry
Prawns fed with NovacqTM grow on average 20-40 per cent faster, are healthier and can be produced with reduced 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 a sustainable prawn feed ingredient.
The first of a series of patents for the NovacqTM production technology was granted in 2009. Since then, the CSIRO NovacqTM team has worked closely with Australian and Asian feed manufacturing companies to implement a global commercialisation strategy.
The production of NovacqTM commenced under licence in Australia, and in China and Vietnam, two of the world's largest producers of farmed prawns. As of early 2017, license arrangements for NovacqTM technology with Ridley Aquafeeds were extended to the rest of the world (excluding China and Vietnam).
We are now also extending our research and knowledge of the NovacqTM technology to enhance production and to explore the innovation beyond just crustaceans to other species as well.
Research efforts on NovacqTM are continuing as part of the Ridley Research Alliance, with a project aimed at characterising the key bioactives in NovacqTM, determining its commercial application on new candidate species, and developing novel production protocols.