New project launched to detect 'emerging production threats' for Australia's prawn industry

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The industry-led project will run over a two-year period. ©iStock
The industry-led project will run over a two-year period. ©iStock
Biosecurity across Northern Australia’s prawn industry will be the focus of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project.

Researchers from James Cook University (JCU) and industry partner the Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association (APFA) will conduct one of the most comprehensive audits of prawn aquaculture pathogens ever undertaken.

The industry-led project will run over a two-year period, with the CRCNA contributing $340,000 in funding. The total project value is $759,831.

Tony Charles, from the APFA, said biosecurity is a leading focus for the organisation and broader industry.

“The research will allow industry to gain detailed knowledge of the pathogens that are currently affecting production and potentially identify previously unknown and emerging threats.”

JCU’s Professor Dean Jerry said the latest molecular tests and technologies will be used to detect and identify specific endemic or emerging pathogens from farms at Mossman in Far North Queensland, to Logan in the State’s South East.

“Gathering data from different farms will, for the first time, provide an important industry benchmark of pathogens which can potentially impact prawn aquaculture,”​ he said.

Production threats

“This data will provide critical insights on threats to production from pathogens and inform the tools required to help better manage potential pathogen threats.”

“It is possible new pathogens that have gone under the radar will also be found,​” he said.

Charles said the work would be crucial in strengthening the industry’s resolve and help towards implementing proactive biosecurity measures.

It is expected the project will decrease production losses caused by pathogens from 20-30% to 10-20% annually and increase production by around $16 million a year.

CRCNA chief executive officer Jed Matz said: "This project has the potential to provide long-term benefits for the Australian prawn aquaculture industry, by increasing biosecurity awareness and enhancing the capacity to monitor pathogens.”

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