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Newsletter || March 2021

General Managers Report

Matt Cunningham

YC20 ASI trial preparation at Pitt Water, Tasmania.

As you will see throughout the newsletter the YC20 breeding season in Tasmania and South Australia is progressing well. Hatchery production can be a fickle business and we still have a way to go before the spat are deployed to the field, but we are very pleased with the start to the year; particularly after we experienced difficulties in both TAS and SA last year.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the ASI team in Tasmania who have done a great job in the hatchery so far. I would also like to do the same to Andrew Trotter and the IMAS team who have implemented many changes over the off-season to ensure we saw improved outcomes this year. Similarly in SA, Mark Gluis and the SARDI team have made many improvements to the systems at West Beach and I am confident we will see improved results. In both states strong performance in the hatchery lays the platform for successful POMS and SA survival trials.

It has been great to see Bryce hit the ground running since he started with ASI. Hopefully, you all have his contact details to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback. At the time of writing, the latest COVID cluster in SA is unfolding, which has disrupted our plans to open up the trials for industry inspections.

Bryce was in Coffin Bay assessing our YC19 trials and was just about to invite local growers to inspect at our stock housed at Angels Oysters; Zac had even offered to fire up the BBQ! Our plans haven’t changed for the long term but we will just have to wait to see how things pan out in SA before we can start holding gatherings. Our intention is to make the SA survival trials as open to industry as possible when practicable.

In the coming weeks, we will be conducting an industry survey to help guide our long-term breeding objectives. If you would like to participate in the survey or have any feedback at all, please feel free to contact Bryce in South Australia or myself in Tasmania.


TAS Breeding Update

ASI staff deploying 3mm YC20 spat in a POMS trial in Pitt Water, Tasmania.

The hatchery season has been very successful with all stock deployed to the field, with only stock required for SA translocation retained at the facility. This year we produced 79 families with good spat numbers for most of the families. POMS trials were deployed to Pitt Water in mid-December and early January; Pipeclay in early January; and Little Swanport late January. The Little Swanport trial was deployed based on the mortality event observed recently. POMS was subsequently ruled out as the cause of the mortality event.

At this stage we are yet to observe POMS activity in any of the deployed trials which is in line with general observed POMS activity in commercial stocks. The water temperatures have been warm due to the East Australian Current but ambient air temperatures have been relatively cool.

ASI and IMAS have recently submitted a project through FRDC that will lock in access to the facility for breeding until Feb 2022. This project has now been formally approved by FRDC.


SA Breeding Update

ASI team collecting data from our Performance Test, which determines Estimated Breeding Values for genetic traits such as meat condition, oyster shape and growth.

The 2020/21 ASI Family Line hatchery season at SARDI has been very successful to date. Health of the spat at SARDI has been excellent with no mortalities, exceptional growth and shell hardness. Early indications are that the spat are performing very well on leases and we look forward to seeing how they perform at the various locations during the coming months.

The feedback provided by ASI staff has been very positive in terms of the spat health. The improvements that have been made to the nursery systems and the management of the systems appear to be the main driver of this improvement. Mark and his team have provided excellent operational support during the deployment, and communication with ASI staff has been first rate. All spat has now been deployed to the field. Mark and the team should be commended for their efforts.

As a result of the successful season and the FRDC SA survival project, a record number of trials have been deployed in SA. We have trials current in Cowell, Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay, Coffin Bay and Denial Bay. The stock seems to be surviving well through the summer, but the sheer number of sites gives us confidence that we will get good SA survival data from this year class.


SA Translocation for POMS Resistant Families

South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) facility in West Beach, South Australia.

We have received conditional PIRSA ministerial approval for the SA translocation. We have been eagerly awaiting some POMS activity in our Tasmanian field trials so that families are selected based on hard data rather than predicted EBVs. It is unlikely that we will see POMS activity at this late stage so we will be relying on predicted EBVs to select which families we send to SA. Despite this, the POMS resistance will be very high in these families.

We have extensive POMS and histopathology testing to be done on the spat in our biosecure facility at IMAS before we send to SA. It will then undergo one month of quarantine at the Roseworthy biosecure facility where it will undergo further POMS testing before being released to Cowell.


New Online Broodstock Catalogue and Hatchery Cross Calculator Launched

Screenshot of the new online Broodstock Catalogue.

On the first of March, the online “ASI-CSIRO Hatchery Toolkit Training” was launched. The training included a walk through the ASI online Broodstock Catalogue and a demonstration of the CSIRO Hatchery Cross Calculator. It was a herculean effort for both ASI and CSIRO. The project spanned over 18 months and included developing the concept, pitching the idea to the ITRG, refining processes, beta testing, incorporating feedback and changes, preparing for training and lastly launching the tool. The training was received very well and feedback from participants was positive. Many thanks to Lewa (ASI) and Scott (CSIRO) for driving the project; and to Matt (ASI), Peter, Curtis and Nigel (all CSIRO) for their constant support, feedback and input. It was a great team effort.

You can access the ASI online Broodstock Catalogue here:


Researcher Profile

Mark Gluis, SARDI

Mark has been working in shellfish hatcheries for over 30 years in Australia and the USA. He has grown a wide range of oyster, clam (cockles), mussel and scallop species in a range of conditions. His career highlights include his involvement with large projects in the US, and has demonstrated what can be quickly achieved when significant resources are allocated.

In particular, the complete refit of a dilapidated eel culture facility in Maryland, transforming it to a substantial oyster facility within five months including spat production. Whilst managing the Hawaiian operations of Coast Seafood Company, Mark was growing clam and oyster spat for both the East and West Coast markets. Being part of Coast with its large-scale hatchery and shellfish farming operation of over 14,000 acres was a great experience. In 2011, Mark was recognised for his expertise by holding the position of Laborde Chair with Louisiana Sea Grant.

Since 2017, Mark has turned his attention to the development of ASI Family Lines while working at SARDI in Adelaide. His main interests are to keep improving the efficiency and reliability of all aspects of algal and shellfish culture, but specifically applying those efforts to production of ASI stock in South Australia. He and his team have successfully bred 80 families in the Year Class 2020 and has done an excellent job creating healthy and robust spat for further ASI trials around the Eyre Peninsula, SA.


If you would like to get in touch with us, please find our details below:

Matt Cunningham

General Manager

0417 965 405

Bryce Porker

Regional Coordinator (SA)

0476 648 733


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