Elucidating the nutritional requirements of farmed hybrid abalone

Abalone is a highly desirable delicacy in many cultures. Australia has traditionally had a low consumption rate of abalone, however, our fisheries have become known as a reliable supply of high quality abalone to world markets.

Australian farmed abalone will soon match the wild catch fisheries for output, following a global trend of increasing supply of abalone from aquaculture facilities. In order to maintain Australia’s reputation among overseas seafood markets for high quality and sustainable production, the aquaculture industry has determined that a renewed focus on abalone feed is required.

Several recent advances in abalone aquaculture have highlighted the need for a re-assessment of what abalone are fed on-farm. Many Australian farms now stock a specially bred hybrid abalone that is more resilient to the unique conditions encountered in abalone farms. New breeds of animals typically benefit from new feed formulations and this new abalone represents an exciting opportunity to try new, more sustainable feed sources. Additionally, faster and more consistent growth across all seasons can be achieved through diet formulations that match the abalone’s seasonal requirements.

Supplementation of diets with bio-active compounds is an emerging trend within the aquaculture industry. Much like dietary supplements for humans, aquaculture dietary supplementation can improve animal health, growth rates and disease resistance. Similarly recent developments in the availability of high quality and consistent algae material offers the chance to develop a feed that more closely resembles that which abalone might encounter in their natural habitat. Although relatively new research suggests these supplements can achieve favourable flavour, texture and nutritional qualities offering the chance to significantly improve the quality of aquaculture abalone products.

In partnership with the Australian Abalone Growers Association and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, NuSea.Lab is investigating the ideal level of protein in feed for hybrid abalone. Employing a purpose built laboratory in Queenscliff, Victoria this project will be at the cutting edge of abalone nutrition research.

This project will produce a series of recommendations for season specific feed compositions and information on the suitability of different dietary ingredients and supplements. This project will support the growth of Australian aquaculture and reinforce Australia’s reputation for high quality seafood products.