THERE will be more Australian-grown prawns this Christmas, helped by a new prawn health check, says the CSIRO.
The new test uses CSIRO’s “Shrimp MultiPath” technology, commercialised by Brisbane start-up company Genics, which was spun-out of CSIRO to tackle the global challenge of food security and quality.
It comes as the domestic prawn farming industry recovers from losses from pathogens over the last three years.
The technology can detect 13 commercially significant prawn diseases, including white spot syndrome, which wiped out many prawn populations in 2016, and Infectious Hypodermal and Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHHNV).
Improved management of IHHNV using Shrimp MultiPath technology increased production by 3.7 tonnes per hectare, or $67,000 farm gate value. Consequently, a 50-hectare Australian prawn farm could see its revenues increase by more than $3 million a season.
Prawn farms are located across northern NSW and in Queensland with around 750 hectares of prawn ponds. An increase of 3.7 tonnes a hectare could boost the yield of farmed prawns by around 50 per cent.
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall says: “It’s great to see CSIRO science being accelerated out of the lab and into a start-up that could tackle our global food security challenge, a very clear public benefit – while also giving Aussies more prawns to enjoy with family and friends.
“Australian seafood is globally prized, so innovation that protects our biosecurity and boosts our domestic economy is a great example of science creating new opportunities.”
Genics CEO and former CSIRO scientist Dr Melony Sellars says the technology comes at an opportune time for the domestic prawn farming industry after losses from pathogens over the last three years.
“Australia already has some of the best prawns you can buy. However, the good news for Australian consumers ahead of Christmas is that we’re helping to grow more prawns, and make them even better,” Dr Sellars says.
“Our tests quickly help prawn farmers make informed management decisions, and for consumers this means more, high-quality, locally grown Australian prawns.”