the scales in favour of fresh fish all year
Research at Deakin University will allow Australian restaurants to feature Murray Cod on their menus all year round.
Here’s how the Warrnambool Standard reported the breakthrough:
BY PETER COLLINS
A scentific breakthrough in Warrnambool will bring
year-round fresh Murray cod to Australia's restaurants.
The iconic cod is being sold from south-west Victoria back to its home territory along the Victorian-NSW border.
A team based at Deakin University's Warrnambool campus has successfully manipulated the breeding cycles of the fish to enable on-demand production.
It is potentially a new multi-million-dollar industry.
Several hundred thousand tiny hatchlings from an induced spawning this month are growing in tanks while thousands more fertilised eggs are incubating.
Larval survival has been excellent so far, unlike in the natural river environment.
The first batch of offspring is expected to be ready for restaurant markets in about 12 months.
Some may be sold earlier to aquaculture farms.
Development of the controlled propagation procedures has been a collaborative project between the university, the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and several commercial aquaculture farms including that of Warrnambool aquaculture entrepreneur Peter Kavanagh.
Dr Dane Newman graduated this year with a PhD on the biology and management of Murray cod reproduction in controlled environments.
He helped pioneer a process of manipulating the cod's environment to trick them into producing mature eggs and sperm in any season.
The gametes are then manually removed from the broodfish and the eggs fertilised to produce embryos that are incubated on mesh trays in a hatchery.
Hatchlings are fed a diet of microcrustacaens before being weaned onto an artificial pellet diet.
“Our team is the first in the world to have successfully manipulated the reproductive cycle of the Murray cod to achieve controlled out-of-season breeding in an enclosed aquaculture system,” project leader Dr Paul Jones said.
“The latest batch was bred five months ahead of the normal breeding season and we are confident we can shift the spawning period to any time of the year.
“But there's still a lot we don't know and research is continuing to improve larval quality and reproduction techniques.”
Dr Jones is senior lecturer in the Faculty of Science
and Technology in Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Science.
He said the world-class aquaculture facilities at the Warrnambool campus had enabled the team to conduct cutting-edge research and attract high-quality students and industry participation.
Mr Kavanagh, of Spirit of the Sea Aquaculture, began breeding fish about 22 years ago when he built a hobby trout farm. He ran it as a tourist attraction for 14 years before he saw the potential in Murray cod aquaculture and approached the university.
“This fish is an icon of Australia. There's definitely a market there,” he said.
“At this stage Australian restaurants will take as many as we produce.”
He already sells to restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney and to Japan after rearing hatchlings bought from suppliers using the natural fish breeding method.