What a pearl: Can the Blacklip help save Queensland's oyster industry?

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Carmel McDougall of Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute wants to boost the local oyster industry.
Dr Carmel McDougall of Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute wants to boost the local oyster industry.
Plans are afoot to try and save the struggling Queensland oyster industry in Australia by developing a disease-resistant species known as the Blacklip.

Amid the growing pressure of supplying sustainable food to a growing population, Dr Carmel McDougall of Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute has plans to revolutionise aquaculture by applying her molecular genetics expertise. 

She believes the Blacklip species can be used to replace the Sydney Rock Oyster, which is extremely susceptible to QX disease, making it difficult to farm.

The Blacklip oyster has a much faster growth rate than the Sydney Rock Oyster, and as a tropical species, will also open up Queensland’s northern coastlines to the potential of oyster farming.

Disease impact

Oyster aquaculture in Queensland has been in a downward spiral for a few decades now, primarily due to disease.

This had made it almost impossible for oysters to be farmed in the area.

With the help of an Advance Queensland Fellowship, a project is now underway to grow the first batch of Backlip oysters in Hervey Bay, in association with Aquafarms Queensland.

“Oysters are one of the most environmentally friendly species to farm, and if we can figure out how to produce the Blacklip efficiently in the hatchery this could be a massive boost for sustainable aquaculture in Queensland,”​ Dr McDougall said.

Related topics: Markets, Oceania, Supply chain, Seafood

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