Research Team Head to Aussie

MTIs Aquaculture Research Team Head to Aussie

New Zealand Redfin Perch Expertise Utilised in West Australian Aquaculture Venture – By David Cooper
Two of New Zealand leading experts on the farming of Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis), Paul Decker, Director, and Dr. Tagried Kurwie, Certificate in Aquatic Studies lecturer, of Mahurangi Technical Institute in Warkworth, recently made presentations to a conference on farming this species held in Collie Western Australia.

The conference was held at the Collie TAFE and was organised by Professor Louis Evans of Curtin University on behalf of the hosts the Ngalang Boodja Council Aboriginal Corporation. This organisation is currently establishing a Marron farm at their Ngalang Boodja Aqua Farm situated at the Ngalang Boodja mine lake. The thrust of the conference was to look at the feasibility of farming Redfin Perch on the same site as the Marron. Perch eggs would be harvested from the wild and hatched/reared on the farm site to market size thus providing not only an economic benefit but a conservation benefit as well in the form of reduced perch numbers in the local waters.

Mr Decker and Dr. Kurwie were invited to this event as a result of the expertise they and the aquaculture team at Mahurangi Technical Institute (MTI) have acquired over recent years through researching and commercially hatching this species. This activity has lead to the commercial supply of juvenile Redfin Perch to start up aquaculture farms in New Zealand and also to the yearly export of fertile eggs to Ireland for hatching and raising there. Currently MTI are the only facility in the southern hemisphere approved for the export of live Perch and their eggs to the European Union.

MTI has also done considerable work on the farming of Redfin perch in re-circulating aquaculture systems with some of this work being in collaboration with the Irish Aquaculture Initiative whose recent publication “Cultivating Perch” a part of the “Aquaculture Explained” series is regarded as the authoritative handbook on cultivating this species.
Also valued by the organisers was Mr. Decker’s’ experience and knowledge of marron farming gained during his time as manager of New Zealand’s only marron farm and as a small scale marron farmer in Queensland previous to this.
Mr Decker spoke on “Redfin Perch Aquaculture at Mahurangi Technical Institute” while Dr Kurwies presentation was on the topic of “Redfin Perch Aquaculture Technology”

The conference was followed by a tour of the farm site which had been opened earlier in the year by WA Commerce Minister Troy Buswell. Mr. Buswell said the Government’s Coal Futures Group had committed $350,000 to the project, which has been in development since 2004. “This is an innovative venture that has turned a rehabilitated mine void into a new enterprise that will provide new employment opportunities through diversifying industry in Collie and the project will demonstrate the sustainable use of old mine voids and could have benefits for a number of industries across the State” said Mr. Buswell at the time of opening.

Wesfarmers Premier Coal has committed $100,000 per year of cash and in-kind work over three years to help develop the project and the aquaculture centre will be run by Aboriginal trainees who have completed aquaculture programs at Collie TAFE.

Following the usual, and in this case very hospitable, social function associated with these events our intrepid duo visited several aquaculture ventures in WA culminating in an extended meeting with the aquaculture team at Challenger TAFE in Perth. This last meeting has resulted in closer ties between them and MTI and the possibility of several exciting joint venture projects.