Queenscliff Shellfish Hatchery

Victorian Mussel Industry - Adapting to Change

As part of the Victorian Government's Aquaculture Strategy, a joint Victorian Fisheries Authority and mussel industry project has overcome a problem threatening the industry's viability.

Since 1982 Farmers in Port Philip Bay have relied on wild sources of baby mussels (referred to as spat) to settle on their growing ropes for on-growing to market size. However, in 2004 there began  a sustained decline in the number of wild spat. The specific causes of the decline has not been determined but possible causes include climatic change, reduced nutrients, increased seawater salinity and increased smothering of spat by other marine species.

To address this decline The Victorian Fisheries Authority has used world class science to develop a state-of-the-art shellfish hatchery at DEPI's Queenscliff Centre and has with industry collaboration achieved its aim of developing a reliable supply of high quality hatchery spat for industry.

The number and quality of spat has exceeded industry expectations with efforts to date producing an average of 500 million spat per annum with settlement of around 80,000 mussels spat per rope, which are on-grow to harvestable mussels in Port Phillip Bay and Westernport.

Since 2008, the project has enabled farmers to secure mussel spat supply and extend the production season which has provided an important competitive edge.

In 2012 an industry consortium , known as the Victorian Shellfish Hatchery, consolidated its position by entering into a full commercial agreement to rent the hatchery from the government and run the operation on a commercial basis. This arrangement has provided the industry consortium with a secure supply of mussel spat and has allowed for further diversification into other shellfish species. Since 2012 the hatchery has continued to produce commercial quantities of mussel spat as well as successfully produced commercial runs of angasi oyster, commercial scallops and Sydney rock oysters.

As a result the industry has a new confidence in its future and in attracting new investment associated with the future government allocation of marine waters for aquaculture development.

The attached video will provide a brief overview of the hatchery project. The video is 12.7MB and runs for 3 minutes and 45 seconds.