50 years of research at Port Stephens

17 Nov 2022

This month marks 50 years of the Port Stephen Fisheries Institute (PSFI) delivering estuarine and marine research to support NSW’s fisheries and aquaculture industry, and the local community are invited to join in the celebrations.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Deputy Director General Fisheries, Sean Sloan, said to mark this significant milestone, DPI will be hosting free public tours on Saturday 26 November 2022.

“We are excited to welcome the community of Port Stephens and surrounding areas onsite to view the world-class facilities, learn about the current research projects and programs, and meet some of the unique aquatic species in residence,” Mr Sloan said.

“Since its establishment in 1972 at Taylors Beach, PSFI has played a vital role in ensuring the NSW fisheries industries continue to be healthy, thriving and most importantly, sustainable.

“It is one of the largest specialised fisheries and aquaculture research facilities in the country, with some of the most extensive and modern research facilities.

“The site boasts commercial hatcheries, mollusc and fish production facilities for culture and wild restocking, a fleet of electrofishing boats for fish community surveys, laboratories, oyster lease and state-of-the-art freshwater fisheries research equipment including an award-winning barotrauma laboratory.

“Research conducted at the site ranges from Molluscan research to support NSW shellfish industries, to fish production and enhancement, through to research into the conservation and recovery of freshwater fish and their habitats in NSW.

“Current work undertaken by the teams at PSFI is focused on the future of fisheries in NSW and the value of emerging industries with research in algae, new seafood products or by-products, and blue carbon, as well as marine technologies to enhance the productivity and sustainability of NSW’s aquatic ecosystems.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin MLC, said the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute has played a critical role over the years in helping the industry put more NSW-grown seafood on Australian plates.

“This milestone reminds us of the important research and infrastructure the Institute offers to ensure our seafood producers have profitable and sustainable businesses now and into the future,” Mr Martin said.

Some of the achievements at PSFI in the last 50 years include:

  • World’s first spawning and rearing of soft coral
  • First research to underpin the Australian prawn industry
  • Developed world first technology for spontaneous spawning of captive mulloway
  • Ground-breaking work around detection and management of PFAS in marine waters
  • First research in Australia to support and develop artificial reef systems
  • Developed year-round conditioning, spawning and early weaning of blacklip abalone
  • First hatchery production of blood cockles and pipis
  • Developed the first commercial diet specifically formulated for an Australian native fish species
  • Established the technology for hatchery production of Australian Bass
  • First commercial scale production of Sydney Rock Oysters, Native Oysters, Akoya oysters, commercial and Doughboy scallops
  • Managing Australia’s oldest continuous oyster breeding program
  • While the modern research facilities will be on show during the public tours, Mr Sloan said the local community will likely also be interested in the history of the site.

“PSFI has an interesting history, with the site built upon land donated to the NSW Government by a mining company,” Mr Sloan said.

“It was originally called the Brackish Water Fish Culture Research Station when it opened in 1972, and the name has changed a few times since then, with the present name given in 2009 when it was granted Institute status.”

The guided tours of PSFI will occur every 90 minutes between 8:30 am – 4 pm.

The tours will commence from the Port Stephens Coaches depot at 15 Port Stephens Drive, Anna Bay, with bus transportation provided to PSFI, as there is no visitor parking available on site.

Entry is free, however there are only a limited number of spaces available, so it’s essential to book your tour through the DPI website.

To secure your free ticket for the guided tours of PSFI on Saturday 26 November 2022, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: 02 6391 3686