How algae research could have a global impact

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A University of the Sunshine Coast researcher has received a significant boost in his bid to improve the $300 billion aquaculture industry.

Dr. Valentin Thépot won a science and innovation award and received $22,000 through the Fisheries Research and Development Society, to pursue studies that could improve sustainability and profitability of shrimp and lobster farming.

He found in early trials that a small seaweed feed supplement increased natural rabbit growth by 19% and immunity by 400%.

Dr Thépot, aquaculture coordinator at Anindilyakwa Land Council in the Northern Territory, said federal government funding would help the next phase of trials – to try to translate success into high-value aquaculture.

“Antibiotic addiction in aquaculture can have serious impacts on the environment and human health, but outbreaks can cost the industry up to $8 billion each year, so a solution must be found,” said Dr Thépot.

“The industry is already looking for innovative solutions for disease management and inventory welfare that don’t compromise productivity and we believe we have found a promising solution.

“We want to see if the results we’ve seen in rabbitfish and Atlantic salmon will be replicated in high-value Australian aquaculture stocks such as tiger prawns and tropical lobster.”

Aquaculture provides half of the seafood consumed globally and Australia’s segment of the industry is growing rapidly, with potential for new innovative businesses to be established in rural and regional areas.

“Indigenous businesses and communities in particular could benefit from harnessing natural ingredients,” said Dr Thépot.

“The Anindilyakwa Land Council (on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory) knows that it is imperative to develop a vibrant and sustainable range of industries for the future, and aquaculture can play a key role.”

Cast net caught black tiger prawns from a fish farm in Australia.

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The head of USC’s Algae Research Group, Professor Nick Paul, said the award reflected the enormous potential of algae to improve Australian industry at a time when innovation in commercial research was at its peak. heart of strengthening the economy.

“The project could even have a global impact, given that the projected costs of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the global healthcare system amount to $1 trillion per year by 2050,” Prof Paul said.

“From an environmental and human health perspective, any effort to reduce our use and reliance on antibiotics in aquaculture is a positive step forward.”

USC’s achievements toward a more sustainable future were recognized last year when the university ranked third in the world in the “Life Underwater” categories of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.

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