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Imports force Aussie prawn farmers to scale up


Brigid Veale
16 May 2011
Northern NSW prawn farmers are hoping mulloway will one day become as well known as the Yamba prawn. Also known as jewfish, mulloway are an estuarine fish native to NSW and touted as the next big thing for Northern Rivers seafood.

Southern Cross University researchers Dr Jeffrey Guy and Dr Ken Cowden said a joint project between Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre (NMSC), the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Palmers Island Mulloway Pty Ltd (PIM) had now demonstrated the feasibility of farming mulloway in prawn ponds.

A free seminar outlining the project will be held at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour on May 23, from 10am to noon. The seminar is part of the North Coast Innovation Festival.

Dr Guy said imports of cheaper and smaller prawns from South East Asia, particularly China, had severely impacted the NSW prawn industry forcing prawn farmers to consider diversification to other species rather than prawns.

“Our research has shown that mulloway grow extremely well in prawn ponds with high survival, minimal disease and production rates approaching 14 ton per hectare,” Dr Guy said.

Sustainably farmed mulloway have also been extremely well received in the market-place with PIM product appearing at many of the top restaurants in Sydney enhancing the region’s reputation as a producer of ‘clean’ and ‘green’ produce.

Dr Cowden said the next phase of the project was to build a new supply capacity in northern NSW by providing prawn farmers with the knowledge to adapt their existing on-site prawn hatchery facilities for marine fish production.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the seminar. Participants will also be given a guided tour of the NMSC aquaculture facilities. For information on the seminar please contact the NMSC on 66483900.

Photo: An aerial view of the Palmers Island Mulloway Pty Ltd (PIM) operation.