A number of businesses have recently established in Australia with a primary focus on genetic improvement and the sale of genetically improved stock for aquaculture. The production of selectively bred stock has been shown to have high benefit-cost ratio, even for relatively small aquaculture industries, and so a number of new breeding programs (companies or cooperatives) are likely to begin operation in the next few years. Selective breeding is highly technical so that even the hands-on running of a breeding nucleus requires a high degree of specialist training. The business of selective breeding is relatively new in Australia and there is much to be learnt from experiences overseas.
Benefit from Norwegian experience
Norway has developed one of the world's largest and most profitable aquaculture export industries, and selective breeding has been seen as one of, if not the most important factor, stimulating and enabling development of these industries. The business and science of selective breeding has matured along with the industry. Knowledge gained from Norway's experience with Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout has been used to begin commercial selective breeding programs for newly developed aquaculture industries such as Atlantic cod.
Australian breeders are keen to learn from the experience of Nofima who have been providing genetic and breeding research services directly to breeding programs around the world for more than 30 years and who have stimulated the establishment of breeding programs for Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, Atlantic cod, tilapia and other species that are now commercialised and recognised internationally. Nofima is widely recognized as a world leader in this research area. Nofima has a strong network of contacts and links with industry that could also be utilised in the education and exchange program.
The workshops and exchanges in this project will give owners, managers, geneticists and hatchery staff involved with selective breeding programs in Australia short-term exposure to the Norwegian selective breeding scene and Nofima expertise. Scientists on the Breeding and Genetics group will educate and inform Australian scientists making decisions about selection and mating, and those involved with the day-to-day operation of breeding nucleus or hatchery, about the latest technical developments and how these might be adapted within Australia. Nofima, and its contacts in Norway, will improve basic knowledge about establishing, running and profiting from selective breeding.
Australia is a close neighbour to the world's largest aquaculture producers and consumers in Asia. Many of the species that are farmed in Australia (shrimp, oyster, abalone, yellowtail kingfish, barramundi) are popular food species that are growing in production in this region. Australia's diverse climate, clean waters and proximity to Asia make it an attractive collaborator and business partner for Nofima in breeding and genetics. The contacts and relationships that develop through the education and exchange program, are likely to stimulate the development of research and business opportunities between Norway and Australia.