James Cook University researchers are offering a much-needed additional disease testing service to protect Northern Australia’s growing aquaculture industry.
In the wake of an unprecedented outbreak of white spot disease (WSD) in the southern Queensland prawn industry, farmers have responded with increased disease testing of stock, and Queensland’s testing facilities have been unable to keep up with demand.
Professor Dean Jerry from the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding at JCU said the alternative service will speed up the process of testing for diseases and allow farmers to make important decisions about their stock faster.
“There is a clearly identified need for disease testing capabilities in Northern Australia that can provide results quickly,” he said.
The testing JCU offers can detect a range of local diseases including gill-associated viruses in crustaceans.
The JCU team hopes to eventually provide disease testing for exotic diseases, including WSD and diseases of finfish such as viral nervous necrosis.
“JCU has an important role to play in both routine testing in the aquaculture industry, and as a partner to conduct research and development,” said Professor Jerry.
JCU aquaculture PhD student Kelly Condon said that a new disease testing facility would supplement testing conducted by southern laboratories by providing access to a regional and rapid monitoring service to assist with biosecurity management and disease prevention.
The JCU team is currently seeking approval from Biosecurity Queensland to widen testing to include exotic diseases such as WSD.
It’s expected the approval process will take several months.
Professor Jerry said the goal of this new disease testing service is to lower risks associated with aquaculture in Australia, and expand opportunities for research and development between industry and the University.