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New disease management tech for Australia’s prawn farmers


December 5, 2019
By Hatchery International staff

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The new technology can detect up to 13 pathogens.

New research that’s been commercialized to help prawn farmers manage the health of their prawn stocks is showing great promise in disease prevention and management.

The new test, which uses the Shrimp MultiPath technology developed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and commercialised by Brisbane start-up company Genics, comes as Australia’s 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 their revenues increase by more than $3 million per season, according to a statement from CSIRO.

Prawn farms are located across northern New South Wales and in Queensland, with around 750 hectares of prawn ponds. An increase of 3.7 tonnes per hectare could boost the yield of farmed prawns by around 50 per cent.

CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall congratulated Genics on translating breakthrough research into marketplace benefit.

“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,” Marshall said.

“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.”

Dr. Melony Sellars, Genics CEO and former CSIRO scientist

Genics CEO and former CSIRO scientist Dr. Melony Sellars said the technology comes at an opportune time for the domestic prawn farming industry after losses from pathogens over the last three years.

“Our tests quickly help prawn farmers make informed management decisions, and for consumers this means more, high quality, locally grown Australian prawns,” Sellars said.

She added tests will allow farmers to better manage their prawn stocks as they grow, helping them to minimise stock losses and significantly boost their production levels, which could reduce Australia’s reliance on imported prawns.

Three years ago, the southeast Queensland prawn industry – responsible for around 40 per cent of Australia’s farmed prawns – was shut down by the foreign incursion of white spot syndrome virus, a pathogen that is harmless to humans but lethal to prawns.

“Shrimp MultiPath tests against white spot, as well as other international pathogens that we don’t currently have in Australia,” Sellars said.

This technology can also be used as a detection system by biosecurity agencies to prevent the spread of any potential future incursions that could harm our industry, she added.

Genics is now delivering Shrimp MultiPath to prawn farmers in Australia and overseas, together with other prawn health diagnostic services.


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