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Leading the way in rock lobster research

A DEVELOPMENT application has been lodged by Tasmanian company Ornatas for the construction of the world’s first rock lobster hatchery at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) Taroona research laboratory site.

If approved, the site will put Tasmania at the cutting edge of aquaculture by commercialising world-leading research that enables tropical rock lobster production on a commercial scale.

IMAS executive director Terry Bailey said the unique facility would allow long-running lobster research at the Nubeena Crescent site to enter its next phase.

“IMAS scientists are leading the world in research to enable rock lobster aquaculture on a commercial scale,” he said.

“The University has partnered with Ornatas to realise the potential of this exciting science, developed during almost 20 years of research at Taroona.

“Building the world’s first tropical rock lobster hatchery will raise new research questions for our scientists, as lobsters have a complex life cycle and have never been reared on this scale before.”

Ornatas chief executive officer Scott Parkinson said it would be a ground-breaking step for the global seafood industry.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the entire project is that we will be developing new science and capability in Tasmania to take to the world,” Mr Parkinson said.

“The IMAS/Ornatas state-of-the-art hatchery is proposed to be housed in a new two-storey building, including a research laboratory, lobster hatchery, plant equipment space, and offices.

If the development application is approved, construction will happen over the next three years.

“When the Tasmanian hatchery is operational, the juvenile lobsters (less than one gram each in weight) will be transported to our onshore grow-out facility in Townsville, Queensland,” Mr Parkinson said.

“This ground-breaking, Tasmanian research will play a significant role in feeding the ever-increasing number of seafood consumers around the world and assist to relieve pressures on our global wild fisheries.

“Currently, there are 20 senior scientists focused on work relating to this project in Tasmania.

“When the lobster centre of excellence and hatchery is operational, there will be 10 permanent jobs created to support the hatchery operations and future research.”

Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Water Shane Broad said the project would provide many benefits for the state, including driving regional jobs growth and providing a boost to the economy.

“Another pleasing aspect of this project is the community involvement that’s taken place to address residents’ concerns about public access to part of Taroona’s bushland coastal reserve at the IMAS site,” he said.

“The gifting of the forested area to the Kingborough Council, to be managed as part of the Taroona Foreshore Park, demonstrates the value of effective community engagement and consultation.”

“I look forward to seeing this project move forward, for the good of the aquaculture industry, and Tasmania.”

Ornatas and the University of Tasmania received an enormous boost with an Australian Research Council grant supporting a project to commercialise onshore lobster aquaculture.

The project has a total value of $26 million over the next five years.

Caption: From left, Ornatas chief executive officer Scott Parkinson and IMAS professor Greg Smith. Photo credit: Fraser Johnston.