A Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project team looking to grow the north’s Tropical Rock Oyster industry have successfully bred a new Black Lip Rock Oyster for the first time at the Western Australian government’s Hillarys marine shellfish hatchery.

It’s an important achievement for the team of researchers, as it highlights the efficacy of the new breeding techniques being explored as part of the project.

Dr Michel Bermudes
WA DPIRD scientist, Dr Michel Bermudes at the Hillarys
marine shellfish hatchery. Photo: WA DPIRD

Lead researcher, Dr Michel Bermudes from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA DPIRD) said project partner Maxima Rock Oyster Company collected the oyster broodstock from Cone Bay in the Kimberley.

“Our revamped Hillarys marine shellfish hatchery has provided the perfect setting for us to refine our breeding techniques and apply them across areas such as larvae culture, feeding and water filtration.

“The Black Lip Rock Oyster spat will continue to be grown in the hatchery until it is relocated to one of the northern research trial sites off the Karratha and Derby coastlines later this year,” he said.

Black Lip Rock Oysters are expected to perform well in northern tropical conditions, providing diversification and investment opportunities for shellfish farmers in Western Australia and in the Northern Territory, where a partner project is also underway.

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz said the $4.1 million Northern Australian Tropical Rock Oyster R& D project is shaping up to deliver big gains for the Northern Australian industry.

“This project will create new jobs and economic opportunities – especially for our Indigenous communities and enterprises.

The CRCNA and the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is working closely with key partners Maxima Rock Oyster Company, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, the Albany multispecies shellfish hatchery and gear suppliers Hexcyl, SEAPA and Zapco.

Maxima Rock Oyster Company Managing Director John Hutton said today’s announcement is a big milestone for the team.

“As a partner in the project we are excited about the opportunities that hatchery breeding of tropical rock oysters will create to fast track our goal of developing a commercial rock oyster aquaculture industry in Northern Australia.” John Hutton Managing Director

Media enquiries

Carla Keith, CRCNA Communications Manager 0499 330 051