Substantial boost for Western Australia’s fish health capabilities

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On the edge of the ocean at Watermans Bay, in Perth’s northern suburbs, a suite of new laboratories, examination and sampling rooms are now fully operational and providing vital support for Western Australia’s fast-growing aquaculture industry.

The new facilities provide fish health and research services that aim to grow WA’s aquaculture industries and support job growth.

WA fisheries minister Dave Kelly said the new aquatic animal health facilities will be vital to grow and protect a strong and sustainable aquaculture industry that will deliver jobs and opportunities along WA’s coastline.

“Just last month, we announced that Huon Aquaculture will be setting up a 2,200-hectare yellowtail kingfish farm off Geraldton and that has the potential to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs,” he said.

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“We have enviable environmental credentials that underpin finfish and shellfish projects, but we need to ensure we can diagnose, manage and overcome future fish health challenges.

“Enhancing our applied health research capacity, by investing in these Watermans Bay facilities, complements existing disease diagnostic and aquaculture services provided to industry by government,” said Kelly.

Managed by aquatic animal health scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the facilities will bring together government, university partners and industry to develop new aquaculture research and development.

The facilities include a high-tech DNA laboratory and a cell culture laboratory, which will help to identify emerging pathogens and understand their distribution and dynamics as well as their potential to cause disease.

High-throughput sample processing robots will also help speed up large-scale pathogen molecular studies, and new equipment will enable rapid assessment of fish and shellfish immunity by examining individual cells from samples.