Sustainably feeding Australia’s onshore lobster aquaculture industry

Supervisory Team:

Dr Richard Cottrell, Professor Julia Blanchard, Professor Chris Carter

Brief project description:

Fish and seafood consumption is growing rapidly around the world. Since the 1960s, per capita seafood consumption has more than doubled globally. As many emerging economies grow, increasing consumer affluence in a burgeoning global middle class is expected to drive substantial demand for luxury seafood products, such as tuna, salmon, and crustaceans including lobsters. In Australia, lobster fisheries are some of the country’s most important in terms of production and export value, with demand for lobster soaring in nearby Asian markets. But supply from Australian lobster fisheries has declined in recent years in response to environmental change, reduced recruitment, and management shifts towards maximum economic yield. Further, farmed lobster production remains nascent in most countries except Vietnam. However, this presents Australia with an opportunity to develop its aquaculture sector and become a leading supplier of farmed lobster.

To build a sustainable industry, Australia’s lobster aquaculture industry must look to understand and minimise its environmental footprint at both local and global scales. Feed production represents a majority share of the embedded environmental impacts in the life cycles of farmed aquatic animals. To sustainably develop an onshore lobster aquaculture sector, knowing the potential trajectories for industry growth, the necessary feed demand required to fuel this growth, and the environmental consequences of sourcing that feed will be a critical component of environmental sustainability. Not only will suitable planning help protect natural systems as the industry grows but also avoid problems of sectoral conflict and poor social acceptance that have limited growth in other aquaculture industries.

To address this need, the proposed project will:

  • Compare and contrast feeding strategies commonly used in lobster aquaculture outside of Australia with those proposed for the onshore Australian industry
  • Compare the environmental footprint of contrasting feeding strategies based on ingredients used and the sourcing of raw materials using spatial analysis.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

  • Develop competence in R statistical programming and collaboration through Git/Github for the synthesis and analysis of large data sets
  • Gain experience of using Geographic Information Systems for global spatial analyses
  • Develop expertise in aquaculture sustainability research and benefit from integration into the IMAS ARC Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture hub and direct interaction with industry partners
Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
November 7, 2022