Greetings ASI members,
We hope this newsletter finds you well. We are delighted to provide some updates on our operations and breeding program in the last couple months.
It has been quite a while between newsletters for ASI, so I welcome the opportunity to share some thoughts with you.
Following Matt Cunningham’s departure from the company we were fortunate that Lewa Pertl, who had been working for us for eight years, was able to immediately take on the role of General Manager. She worked diligently for the best part of a year to make some significant changes, such as improving our connection with growers in SA and preparing for the increase in the Service Fee. Lewa was at a stage in her career where she was ready to move on different things in her life, so I appreciate her willingness to stay with us for a time before she moved on.
We now have Henry Hewish in the role of general Manager, and he is rapidly coming up to speed. His practical experience with commercial oyster production is a big benefit to the company. Over the coming months he will be looking for ways to improve our service and increasing our efficiency in the hatchery and the field.
Of course, the major change happening now is the increase in the Service Fee to $4.45 per thousand spat. The new fee became effective on 1 July. This is the first increase in the fee since it was implemented in 2014. I realise it is a significant increase, but we worked hard to keep the figure as low as possible.
During the twelve months of industry consultation that we carried out in support of the change, it became very clear to me that growers and hatcheries expect more from ASI. Not only do we need to be seen to be operating more efficiently, but we also need to increase our offering to hatcheries so that growers can buy ASI stock with confidence. This has started already with allocation to some hatcheries of more ASI oyster families. Those hatcheries will now be able to breed oysters with a wider range of traits beside POMS resistance. Additional improvements to our service are also planned, like our economic index to produce a more commercially oriented ASI oyster.
I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. As usual, I encourage anyone with questions about ASI to contact Henry Hewish or me at any time.
Dr Len Stephens
General Manager's report
As expected its been full steam ahead since starting the position in early May. After a few weeks handover with Lewa I hit the ground running visiting farms across Tasmania and getting acquainted with our stakeholders.
We have been grading stock furiously leading into our Performance trials which will be completed by the time this newsletter hits your inbox. Our stock is looking terrific and our next year class is looking strong.
We are working on getting our stock into POMS free areas in Tasmania again from this summer so we can begin assessing mortality data across our families to ensure our breeding continues to provide value.
We are now focusing on our economic index for breeding to ensure a multi-faceted commercial approach to our broodstock selection.
We are looking to hold further grower days in SA in August so keep your eyes peeled as we will be looking to show off our families and get feedback to ensure we are meeting industry standards.
Our SA Mortality trials are going well, having recently seen mortality across our sites we will have strong data moving into this years breeding.
I hope the industry has a strong second half to the year and I look forward to catching up with you all.
TAS Field Updates
We have three POMS trials deployed in Pittwater between December to late January this year. The data has been assessed by CSIRO and we found that:
First and second trial had mortalities associated with POMS
Third trial did not - Mortalities could be due to environmental stressors such as high/low temperatures and predation.
We are seeing large mortalities in YC22, which is good because this will provide us with good POMS resistant genetics for future spawns.
Introduction of the economic index.
Over the past year Peter Kube (Quantitative Geneticist) and Steven Rust (Marine resource economist) have put together economic weightings of characteristics of oyster growth and conditionings. Industry had flagged with ASI the need to incorporate the characteristics that influence an oyster growers commercial needs. So far this has been done with ‘length’, ‘depth’ ‘width’, ‘weight’ and ‘meat condition’. We are also working on incorporating several other traits such as shell density that we have recently experimented with during our most recent performance trials in Tasmania.
We believe this index will create families with high tolerance for POMS as industry has come to expect from our ASI families along with stronger commercial traits than what has been offered in the past. The economic index has been set up with the intention of providing the highest economic return to growers through the use of our family lines.
We are working on our performance trials of YC21s across Pittwater, Boomer Bay and Little Swanport. We are preparing to incorporate genomics into future years breeding so we can better understand and optimize our breeding strategy.
ASI staff have been working on a sex ratio trial aimed at assessing the effect of diet, age and genetics on sex determination of oysters. The work is a part of an FRDC funded project being undertaken in collaboration with UTAS and CSIRO to assess the potential benefits of genomic selection methods to oyster breeding. The overall goal is to develop cost effective methods that result in quicker, more accurate gains in the breeding program.
Field trials are being undertaken at different sites in southern Tasmania to determine the effect of ambient conditions on sex ratios of oysters of different ages. A lab-based trial is also underway, assessing the effect of high and low feed rations on the sex ratio of fourteen families.
The project is due for completion at the end of 2023.
SA Field Updates
SA Mortality trials There have been 5 trials deployed using families from the YC22 for the SA mortality project. Mortality trials were deployed at Smoky Bay at the Water Witch and Vinya growing regions, Cowell, Coffin Bay and Streaky Bay. The 4.8-8mm stock put in trials was to replicate the size of the spat commonly sold to industry. The density of the trials were increased this year to reflect commercial stocking rates and we have collected the strongest genetically correlated data ever recorded in SA from the YC22. The YC22 has significantly higher POMS resilience than previous year classes, it also has some families that show strong resilience to SA mortality and offer great commercial shapes at an early age.
YC21 Performance and YC23 breeding run An early assessment of the YC21 performance trial has facilitated some great breeding decisions for the pending YC23 family breeding run ay SARDI starting soon. The use of recent survival trial data and the increased focus on robust commercial traits when making breeding decisions will result in the YC23 being an exciting year class for the SA industry.
ASI Grower days
ASI will be conducting grower information days in August this year and will be showing the commercial YC21 families and obtaining industry feedback on these families. Some of the YC22 families will also be presented and recent trial results discussed. Please come along to join us at the following locations.
Smoky Bay 21 August 2023
Streaky Bay 22 August 2023
Cowell 23 August 2023
Coffin Bay 24 August 2023
YC21 Commercial Offering
ASI has recently conducted the commercial offering of 18 YC21 families. These families offer a range of different commercial characteristics and hatchery feedback has been very positive.Photos and specific family information is available on our website under broodstock catalogue.
If you would like to get in touch, please find our details below:
0408 813 114