A $1.2 MILLION extension to Port Stephens Fisheries Institute’s tank and aquaria system will allow it to expand its world-leading marine research projects.
The institute’s library has also been refurbished to accommodate additional resources relocated from the Cronulla fisheries centre.
New offices have been built to cater for staff transferred from the Cronulla centre.
The new works were officially opened on Thursday August 8.
The institute is a multi-disciplinary centre with staff from five divisions within primary industries.
Its units include science and research, aquaculture, conservation and marine parks, fisheries compliance and biosecurity.
Current research projects are being undertaken in the habitat of the Eastern King Prawn, Sydney Rock Oysters and threatened sharks.
Three of the four fisheries research leaders are now based at Port Stephens, as well as the Director of Fisheries Research Dr Bob Creese and the executive director of Fisheries NSW Dr Geoff Allan.
‘‘This enhancement of the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute is great news for the region and the international marine community,’’ Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said.
Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson said Fisheries NSW now had a critical mass of scientists and managers based at Port Stephens.
‘‘These staff are leading the field and specialising in aquaculture and aquatic ecosystems research and acquatic biosecurity,’’ she said.
‘‘Scientists at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute are involved in a number of internationally renowned research projects and enjoy a stand-alone reputation as the best in their field.’’
Examples of research projects currently underway at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute:
Eastern King Prawn Habitat
Eastern King Prawns are one of NSW’s most important exploited species.
There is insufficient knowledge about how prawns naturally recruit to estuaries, how they use estuarine habitats, and the factors that affect their growth and survival.
A new project supported by the Fisheries Research Development Corporation started in July 2013, to investigate the nursery habitats for Eastern King Prawn and the estuarine conditions that contribute to the fishery in NSW.
Selective breeding of Sydney Rock Oysters
The Sydney Rock Oyster breeding program commenced in the 1990s and aims to develop oysters that grow faster and are more resistant to disease.
Over the past two decades oyster family lines have been developed that grow up to 35 per cent faster than normal oysters and are resistant to two major diseases - winter mortality and QX.
A number of sharks that occur in NSW coastal waters are identified as threatened, including the grey nurse shark.
Research has been underway for several years at Port Stephens Fisheries Research Institute to understand the reproduction, movement patterns and size of the population and to estimate rates of growth and mortality to ensure that management can protect key locations and understand trends in the population.
Research at Port Stephens has focussed on dissections of dead sharks to obtain biological samples for analysis, tagging grey nurse sharks with acoustic and pop-up satellite tags, underwater stereophotographic techniques for estimating lengths and identifying key sites where they aggregate so these areas can be afforded maximum protection from the key threats.