New Australian salmon farming research facility set for launch

13 May 2015

Atlantic salmon is one of the leading aquaculture species farmed in Australia. Production has grown from 25,700 tonnes in 2008 to a current level of 45,000 tonnes worth AUD 550 million and is expected to continue to grow at rate well above the industry average in the next few years. However, with this anticipated expansion comes great responsibility, particularly with regards to ensuring that the salmon industry continues to function safely and sustainably.

With more than 95% of Australian salmon produced in Tasmania, the industry recently broke ground on its AUD 6 million Experimental Aquaculture Facility (EAF) to be built at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies’ (IMAS) Taroona campus. The facility, which will specialise in all aspects of Atlantic salmon production research, is expected to be fully operational by mid-2015. It will include a series of tanks, monitoring equipment, laboratory space, and associated building and support services.

The EAF is being jointly-funded by the University of Tasmania, Huon Aquaculture, Skretting and the Australian and Tasmanian governments.

Its research will focus on fish health, more effective use of marine resources in fish feeds, climate change effects and food security. It will also enable researchers to work on salmon under controlled conditions right through to harvest.

James Rose, managing director of Skretting Australia, says: "The Experimental Aquaculture Facility provides the capacity to undertake experiments with large Atlantic salmon, which has not previously been available in Tasmania and is certain to bring huge benefits to all local producers. This facility is another important step in the development of the industry and will allow us to build our local knowledge more strongly. It offers a significant opportunity for undertaking collaborative industry research and building international research linkages in the future."

Once the EAF is up and operational, Skretting Australia’s will increase its focus on the challenges unique to the Tasmanian Atlantic salmon industry. This will include accelerating the development of functional feeds to support stocks during high temperature conditions when the gut wall becomes more permeable and the fish become more vulnerable to pathogens. Higher temperatures also lead to a loss of appetite and subsequent slowing of growth rates.

Since their launch in 2011, its high temperature (HT) feeds have become an integral part of the industry’s diet strategy. A recent upgrade has led to even better overall performance and the concept is now being introduced to other species.

At the same time, Skretting Australia will continue to assist salmon companies looking to achieve full Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification by supplying fish feeds compliant with the standard.

Through a close working relationship, it assisted Tassal in fulfilling its aspiration of becoming the world’s first salmon company to achieve full ASC-certification for all its operations, as announced in November 2014.

"Skretting firmly believes the ASC will play an increasingly important role in the future of the aquaculture industry. We are committed to delivering sustainable feeds compliant to the ASC’s strict criteria, starting with our salmon feeds. In getting behind the standard, Skretting Australia is helping bring global best practice to the Tasmanian salmon farming industry," says Rose.

Skretting Australia’s commitment to safe and sustainable aquaculture has also led to it becoming certified to the Global G.A.P. Compound Feed Manufacturing v2.1 standard. This certification provides further assurance to customers and end-consumers that the production and distribution of feed and the sourcing of raw materials meet internationally recognised control and compliance criteria.