Biosecurity risk management in the NSW aquaculture industry

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in collaboration with Monash University (through BehaviourWorks Australia) and in consultation with aquaculture permit holders across NSW, are undertaking a social research project; the Resilient Aquaculture Industries in NSW project.

What is this project about?

There is ongoing threat of disease outbreaks in the NSW aquaculture industry given a number of endemic pathogens (e.g. QX in Sydney Rock Oysters) and exotic incursions (e.g. White Spot in farmed prawns).

Preparing for an unknown emergency event is a complex task, and preparedness is key to recover from a biosecurity threat. Previous outbreaks throughout the aquaculture industry in NSW have observed a contrast between individual aquaculture permit holders’ ability to bounce-back to a pre-disease state in terms of productivity and business success.

The project aims to better understand what assistance DPI can provide and, based on these insights, will develop the appropriate tools to assist NSW aquaculture industries prepare for, prevent and respond to a disease outbreak.

What does this project involve?

The project will be delivered in three stages.

Stage 1 – aquaculture industry insights. One on one interviews (qualitative) and an online survey (quantitative) with the aquaculture farmers to understand current biosecurity management practices, experiences, and any challenges. The completed BehaviourWorks Australia social research report report, exploring the importance of biosecurity risk management across the NSW aquaculture industry, can be found here.

Stage 2 – development of resources. Insights from the interviews and the online survey will be used to design and implement aquaculture industry workshops and support the development of aquaculture biosecurity management resources and tools.

Stage 3 – review and evaluation. A project review and ongoing evaluation will help to understand if the developed resources have been helpful, how current biosecurity management practices have changed since the project began and suggest scope for adaptation and expansion

Outcomes of the project will inform the establishment of a program to support the resilience of the NSW aquaculture industry. The program will focus on industry preparedness,  emergency incident response and recovery. This will include the development of guidance materials to help the industry plan for an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) event, understand what to expect if an EAD is detected on their property, and what processes they need to have in place to ensure an efficient and effective recovery in the event of one.

Engagement Activities

Workshops that bring industry and DPI together to share information and collaborate, are planned as part of the ongoing resilience in aquaculture program. Resources and tools to increase resilience to disease outbreaks, to aide in biosecure operations, awareness and knowledge of biosecurity issues and obligations will be available, with other material developed in consultation with industry during the workshops.

The first workshop launch took place at the 2022 NSW Oyster Conference at Batemans Bay on 18th May. This was an opportunity for oyster farmers to learn more about the "Resilient aquaculture industries in NSW" project and how DPI partnerships and increased collaboration, between and within industry groups and DPI, can improve information exchange and overall disease preparedness within the industry.

For more information on the 2022 NSW Oyster Conference, visit the OceanWatch website https://www.nswoysters.com.au/2022conference.html

For more information about the Resilient aquaculture industries in NSW project, email aquatic.biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au