New opportunities for the North Coast to play a key role in Australia’s $1.1 billion aquaculture industry are being opened up through research conducted at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour.
A $2 million project to upgrade the aquarium system and add new aquaculture brood stock tanks was completed at the NMSC earlier this year, enhancing the capacity for commercial aquaculture research and teaching.
Dr Symon Dworjanyn, a researcher at the National Marine Science Centre, said it was now the best aquarium system in NSW and one of the best places to do aquaculture and marine ecology research in the world.
“We now have 30 000 litres of sea water an hour flowing through our aquarium system, with temperature controlled laboratories and aquaculture brood stock tanks,” Dr Dworjanyn said.
He said the NMSC was in a unique location, providing access to open water in an area where the tropical and temperate currents meet.
“In this area you can go from kelp forests to coral reefs – that is quite unusual and probably one of the few places in the world that you can do that,” he said.
“That enables us to undertake research on everything from seaweeds to fish. We have a strong focus on aquaculture, which we also teach here at the NMSC.
“We are testing whether it is feasible to produce Mangrove Jack fingerlings to enhance recreational fishing. We are also developing new opportunities for pond-grown Mulloway, as an alternative to prawn farming. We have successfully helped convert a prawn farm on Palmers Island and are now exploring new ways of processing the fish.
“Aquaculture is a booming industry, worth $1.1 billion across Australia and accounts for about half of our seafood production. We have real potential here on the North Coast to play a significant role in that industry.”
Dr Dworjanyn said the combination of ecological and aquaculture research and industry connections provided excellent opportunities for students undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate marine studies at the NMSC.