The problems faced by all selective breeding initiatives are basically the same.
- make strong genetic improvement
- limit inbreeding
- create large benefits for stakeholders
- be profitable
For this project we developed a bioeconomic simulation model to determine how a selective breeding program should be developed for abalone farmed in Australia. Using the model, with input of data from abalone farmers and geneticists, we identified an option for selective breeding which provided a balance giving a high genetic response, avoidance of inbreeding, avoidance of loss of genetic variation, high economic benefit to industry, and strong cash flows/returns to the selective breeding company.
Workshops were held with industry participants and geneticists to collect parameters for input into the model. Best and worst case scenarios were modelled where little information was available (e.g. some genetic parameters). The model was used to address the following questions:
- How much genetic improvement would be expected for different traits and how would the selective breeding program be best optimised?
- What would be the cost of running the selective breeding program under different scenarios?
- What benefit and what revenue would be expected under different scenarios?
- How would the industry benefit in terms of benefit-cost ratio, total added value and nominal economic effect and how would the benefits to the industry be optimised?
- What would be the net present value and internal rate of return for the selective breeding program and how could these values be optimised?
Plans giving a strong genetic response and highest benefit-cost ratio for the abalone industry were highlighted.
The project has resulted in an initiative to begin a selective breeding program for abalone on mainland Australia.