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article imageAustralian scientists claim to have developed ‘perfect prawn’

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 30, 2010 in Business
Gold Coast - After eight generations of selective breeding, Australian scientists and prawn farmers have developed what they claim to be the world's most perfect prawn.
Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in collaboration with industry partners Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture (GCMA) have bred a genetically improved black tiger prawn which is producing record yields in aquaculture farms and winning awards.
The black tiger prawn is considered very profitable largely because of its fast growth and robust pond performance. However, because the prawn proved very difficult to reproduce in culture, until recently the farming of the species relied mostly on wild-caught adult breeders.
Researchers of CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship and the Queensland’s Gold Coast prawn industry have managed to breed successive generations of prawns in captivity, thus transforming a business often affected by seasonal fluctuations into a reliable production system with consistent and predictable output.
The average yield production for farmed prawns is five tonnes per hectare. The selectively breed prawns produced an average of 12.8 tonnes per hectare in 2009, and Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture claims that in 2010 they have achieved yields of 17.5 tonnes per hectare.
Baby black tiger prawns before they are moved to grow-out seawater ponds.
Baby black tiger prawns before they are moved to grow-out seawater ponds.
Dr. Nigel Preston, leader of the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship prawn research project, believes that this specially bred prawn has the potential to revolutionize the local and international prawn farming industry.
SCIRO bets on the Australian black tiger prawn industry adopting the new breeding technology. Thus, Australia's production could increase from about 5,000 tonnes of farmed prawns a year to 12,500 tonnes by 2020, adding about US$100 million annually to the value of the industry.
The breeders claim that these prawns are so good that they have won five gold medals at the Sydney Royal Easter Fine Food Show’s Aquaculture Competition in the past two years, including the highest award “Champion of Show”.
Farmed shrimp constitute up to 70 percent of the shrimp sold on world markets and two species, the black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and the whiteleg prawn (Litopenaeus vannamei), account for about 87% of the world’s farmed marine shrimp production.
The black tiger prawn is cultured mostly in Asia and Australia while the whiteleg prawn is the species farmed along the Pacific coast of South America from México to Perú, but mostly in Ecuador.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national agency for scientific research, was founded in 1926. In 2005, SCIRO received worldwide attention and criticism for publishing and promoting the book “The Total Wellbeing Diet” which endorsed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The book sold over half a million copies in Australia and over 100,000 worldwide, however, it was criticized in an editorial in the journal Nature for giving scientific credibility to a "fashionable" diet book sponsored by the meat and dairy industries.
Frozen head-on black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon)  farmed in South-East Asia and sold worldwide.
Frozen head-on black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), farmed in South-East Asia and sold worldwide.
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