“The work of the FRDC and CSIRO has been nothing short of sensational. Together, we have been able to create a better prawn and successfully expand our business.”
Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (GCMA) General Manager, Nick Moore
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) worked with CSIRO and Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (GCMA) to create prawns with a third set of chromosomes, which better handle environmental changes and enhance yields for Australian aquaculture.
In 2011, the Australian prawn industry needed to find a way of building profitability to offset the reality of a ‘farm gate’ prawn price that had barely moved beyond $16–$17/kilogram for a decade. The staple Black Tiger Prawn had proved very difficult to reproduce in culture, and farming the species relied mostly on wild-caught adult breeders. Average production growth had stalled, and was stuck at about six to eight tonnes of prawn per hectare.
The industry needed a prawn that could be bred in captivity, was sustainable and had greater yield capacity.
More than 10 years of breeding and research by CSIRO in partnership with the FRDC and the GCMA created a “better tiger prawn”. The new prawns with a third set of chromosomes, have greater genetic diversity, and are better able to handle environmental changes. The modified Black Tigers Prawns also grew to be substantially bigger than their older relations, in many cases up to 300 millimetres long.
Australia’s production is on track to increase from about 5 000 tonnes of farmed prawns a year in 2011 to 12 500 tonnes by 2020, adding about AUS$140 million annually to the value of the industry.