The aquaculture research group develops technology for new or existing aquaculture industries. Key facilities used for this research at the PSFI include a mollusc hatchery, a quarantine mollusc hatchery, marine fish broodstock centre, marine fish hatchery, marine fish nursery, nutrition barn and grow-out tanks and ponds. Facilities for commercial and pilot-scale research are available as well as replicated, small-scale facilities for applied research. Research directions are developed in consultation with representatives from industry through the Aquaculture Research Advisory Committee.
Key program areas include:
Nutrition, Diet Development
The aquaculture research unit has worked nationally and internationally to assist with developing and managing the aquaculture projects funded by the Australian government.
The aquaculture group supports the development of environmentally sustainable and profitable aquaculture industries. In NSW, the industry is dominated by Sydney Rock Oyster cultivation but interest in farming finfish, crustacea and other molluscs in increasing. Current programs include: case management aquaculture investors; supporting the activities of the Marine Aquaculture Research Lease for Yellowtail Kingfish off Port Stephens; managing the NSW Hatchery Quality Assurance Scheme; improving business service operations; managing the impacts on the oyster farming industry from natural disasters, diseases and pests; and promoting the protection of estuarine water quality.
The NSW government has prepared Sustainable Aquaculture Strategies for land-based and edible oyster aquaculture. The strategies include identification of appropriate aquaculture sites and a simplified approval process. The strategies also address issues such as business planning, species and site selection, planning and design, and water quality guidelines. A NSW Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy is under development.
The Aquaculture Administration team provides a range of administrative services, including:
The sustainable management of our precious freshwater resources needs to be underpinned by robust science. Our scientists are involved in research which assists in protecting, enhancing and rehabilitating the biodiversity of riverine ecosystems and the productivity of freshwater fisheries, stretching from river headwaters, all the way down to the estuaries they flow into.
Freshwater Ecosystem scientists based at the PSFI work collaboratively with other freshwater research stations throughout NSW, including Narrandera and Grafton Fisheries Centre, and the Batemans Bay Fisheries Office. The range of activities our scientists are involved in include: broad-scale surveys of river health and assessments of fish communities, research relating to recovery actions for threatened freshwater fish species, fish habitat mapping and restoration, design and monitoring of river infrastructure to improve fish passage (including weirs, dams, hydropower and fishways) and to protect fish at irrigation diversions, investigating ways to control invasive fish and fish diseases, collecting information to support environmental water delivery programs and assessing the effectiveness of freshwater fish stocking activities.
In addition to this, PSFI boasts expertise and state-of-the-art freshwater fisheries research equipment including:
The marine environment in NSW is a public resource that is greatly valued. It is very diverse, extending from 3 nautical miles offshore to the upper tidal limit within the estuaries. The marine and estuarine waters all have their own unique biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem processes. Conserving these features, while also allowing for sustainable fishing and other uses of marine resources, is a key challenge for NSW Primary Industries. Research activities are centred, therefore, around both examining the threats to, assessing the health of marine and estuarine species, habitats or ecosystems. If these remain healthy, it is a good indication that marine resources are being managed sustainably and that they will be available for the enjoyment of future generations. Research on marine ecosystems provide scientific information to underpin the management initiatives and policy development for these valuable resources. Both field surveys and laboratory analyses based from Port Stephens are undertaken in four key areas and cover the following activities:
Threats to fishery resources
Fish habitat improvement
Fish stocks are influenced by many natural factors and by various human activities, the most direct of which is fishing. The Fisheries Resource Assessment Unit (FRA) provides the scientific capacity to underpin the monitoring, sustainability, and productivity of the State’s fisheries resources. A key mandate of the unit is to monitor levels of catch and fishing effort, assess risks to continued sustainability of exploited marine resources. Several monitoring programs underpin this process, including regular data collection on commercial catch and effort, observer programs and periodic estimates of recreational catch obtained from fishery independent surveys, game-fish tournaments and charter-boat logbooks. Impacts from fishing activities can also have unintended consequences for non-target species or fish habitats. Reducing these impacts can be achieved through the development of more environmentally friendly fishing gear or improved survival of released catch.
In addition to monitoring responsibilities, FRA maintains a core focus on developing ways to improve the productivity of NSW fish stocks. Scientific research in this area falls under the area of Fisheries Enhancement, as research is targeted at improving the productivity of NSW exploited fish stocks through conservation, restoration or direct enhancement. Key areas include the development of artificial reef systems, rehabilitation of estuarine habitats, and the stocking of marine and freshwater species.
The health of aquatic habitats in fundamental to the sustainability of commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture production and non-consumptive uses (such as diving and tourism). Staff within the Aquatic Environment Unit work to protect marine, estuarine and freshwater aquatic habitats both locally and statewide via a range of activities including: reviews and amendments to legislation, development of policies and guidelines, review of strategic land and waterway use plans; assessment of rezonings and development proposals, and issuing (or refusing) permits for works or activities that may harm marine vegetation, disturb the substrate, obstruct fish movement along a waterway or harm habitat within a Marine Park. The scope of this work commonly extends to water quality, riparian buffer zones, environmental engineering design (eg. for fishways, road and rail waterway crossings and seawalls), environmental flows, fish kill investigations, adaptation to climate change and sea level rise and threatened species recovery.