Associate
Professor Damien Paris from JCU’s Gamete and Embryology (GAME) Laboratory said
wild-caught fish production has flatlined since the late 1980s, with more than
50 per cent of the world’s seafood – amounting to 82 million tonnes, worth over
US$ 250 billion – now coming from aquaculture.

“Despite
this, breeding technologies in aquaculture are a long way behind those in
terrestrial farming. Improvements in broodstock and hatchery management are
needed to intensify production if the industry is going to be able to support
the growing global demand for animal protein,” said Dr Paris.

Dr Paris
and colleagues have just published work in Reviews in Aquaculture and Aquaculture showing
how advanced tools can be used to evaluate and freeze sperm from decapods
(crabs, crayfish, lobster, etc) and barramundi, then fertilise females
artificially.

While mass
natural spawning is effective for producing barramundi, scientists know that
not all barramundi sperm is equal, with some individuals producing much higher
quality offspring.

“Fertility
tools can identify infertile males or lead to improvements in diet and
husbandry that ultimately improve sperm quality of broodstock, while banking
stocks of frozen sperm reduces the need and significant cost of housing large
numbers of breeding males,” said Dr Paris.

However, the
technology is still in its infancy in many aquaculture species.

“Advanced
fertility monitoring tools and assisted breeding technologies are needed if
Australian farms are going to remain competitive in the rapidly changing
aquaculture sector,” said Dr Paris.

According
to Dr Paris, sperm freezing improves the worldwide trade and distribution of
valuable aquaculture genetics. Coupled with artificial fertilisation, it can
reinfuse important genes back into females to improve disease-resistance, increase
genetic diversity from wild-caught broodstock or accelerate selective breeding.

Dr Paris
has partnered with other researchers Professor Dean Jerry, Associate Professor
Chaoshu Zeng, Adrien Marc, Jon Irish Aquino and Nur Un Nesa, as well as
industry partners Mainstream Aquaculture and Australian Crayfish Hatchery to
pioneer development of sperm, egg and embryo technologies for the barramundi
and crustacean industries.

“The GAME
Lab at JCU has a suite of sophisticated molecular fertility tools and assisted
reproductive technologies, with experience adapting these to a diversity of
terrestrial and aquatic animal species. It’s the sort of thing the industry is
going to need if aquaculture is going to meet the demands placed upon it and if
Australian producers want to play a big part in this,” said Dr Paris.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here