Abalone Aquaculture Translocation Protocol
Fisheries Management Paper
ISBN 978-1-74199-060-7 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-74199-058-4 (online)
The objective in developing the abalone aquaculture translocation protocols is to preserve the natural and farmed stocks of Victorian abalone, and to ensure that any abalone translocations do not adversely impact the Victorian marine environment. A risk assessment has been used to guide the development of the protocol as part of the implementation of the Victorian Guidelines for the Translocation of Aquatic Species (Department of Environment and Primary Industries, 2003a). The protocol documents the risk assessment process undertaken in relation to the translocation of abalone in Victoria and the subsequent controls recommended for translocation activities associated with the abalone aquaculture industry. The controls presented in this protocol are adaptive and represent minimum standards that are designed to mitigate risks. However, it is advisable and recommended that industry consider additional measures to further protect their financial exposure to risks associated with translocations.
This protocol deals only with the translocation activities into and within Victoria associated with the abalone aquaculture industry. The types of translocation that may be undertaken by the Victorian abalone aquaculture industry and thus considered within the scope of this protocol are detailed in Table 1 and Figure 1. To facilitate use of this document, Table 1 groups translocations according to their geographic range (within Victoria or into Victoria) and by the source of the translocation. It is recognised that translocations from the same source to different destinations may involve different risks and additional control measures have been developed to address those risks.
Table 1: Potential translocation activities undertaken by the Victorian abalone aquaculture industry.
|Translocation activity:||Translocation to:|
1. Translocation of wild broodstock from Victorian waters:
|Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
|2. Translocation of wild broodstock from licensed Victorian fish receiver/processor.||Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
|3. Translocation of domesticated broodstock from licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.||Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
|4. Translocation of abalone from licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.||
a) Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
b) Licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site
|5. Translocation of abalone from licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site.||
a) Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
b) Licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site
|6. Inadvertent translocation of abalone, marine pests or disease agents from licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.||Victorian marine waters|
|7. Inadvertent translocation of abalone, marine pests or disease agents from licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site.||Victorian marine waters|
|8. Translocation of wild broodstock from interstate waters.||Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
|9. Translocation of wild broodstock from licensed interstate fish receiver/processor.||Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
|10. Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed interstate land-based aquaculture site.||
a) Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
b) Licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site
|11. Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed offshore interstate aquaculture site.||
a) Licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site|
b) Licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site
Figure 1: Translocation activities managed by this protocol in relation to the abalone aquaculture industry.
Abalone (genus Haliotis) are highly prized marine gastropods some species of which are endemic to southern Australia. Abalone are defined in the Fisheries Act 1995 to mean blacklip (H. rubra) and greenlip (H. laevigata) and include all other species, forms, races and hybrids of abalone and form the basis of Victoria's most important and valuable fishery. Specifically, this document relates to abalone aquaculture producers who are authorised to operate by the Fisheries Act 1995, either through the granting of an Aquaculture Licence or General Permit by the Fisheries Division of the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria). It applies to the translocation of live abalone into and within Victoria (including all stages of the organism's lifecycle) and aims to specify the conditions under which the organism can be moved. All translocations that involve inputs to, and outputs from, abalone farms are covered with the exception of translocations related to wholesale or retail sale of the product.
This document considers translocations of live aquatic organisms associated with the abalone aquaculture industry in Victoria. However, some consideration will also be given to issues related to commercial fishing for abalone as the two activities are intrinsically linked through the continued use of wild broodstock by the abalone aquaculture industry. There is also recreational harvesting of both abalone species in Victoria; however, this is low compared with the commercial catch and it is considered an inappropriate translocation pathway for supplying broodstock. Illegal, unlicensed and unreported fishing activities are outside the scope of this document. Translocations related to the use of seaweed as feeds in offshore sites are also not considered in this document. The importation of aquaculture feed is managed under Federal legislation in accord with appropriate import risk assessment provisions.
With regard to the wild abalone stocks, only translocations between licence holders authorised to undertake abalone aquaculture and licensed fish receivers will be considered in this document. However, potential impacts on wild stocks from the inadvertent release of abalone, marine pests and diseases are covered by this document.
This document specifically does not cover the following translocations related to the wild catch and processing sector:
- abalone processing activities including disposal of processing wastes and effluent waters;
- abalone relocation and reseeding activities undertaken by the wild sector;
- wild abalone collected by commercial fishermen and delivered to licensed fish receivers;
- movement of abalone between licensed receivers; and
- the movement of wild abalone collection equipment.
For the purposes of this protocol, translocation is defined as "the deliberate human-assisted movement of a live aquatic organism using associated transport media." Other relevant definitions include:
AFR: Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve.
Approved Authority/Laboratory: A laboratory in a Member Country that is approved by the Competent Authority to carry out diagnostic work on disease listed by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
Broodstock (domesticated): Hatchery-bred adult abalone retained for the purposes of breeding. This stock may be farm conditioned and may (or may not) be part of a selection program1.
Broodstock (wild): Adult abalone collected from the natural marine environment2.
Competent Authority: The National Veterinary Services, or other Authority of a Member Country, having the responsibility and competence for ensuring or supervising the implementation of the aquatic animal health measures recommended in the International Aquatic Animal Health Code (OIE, 2006).
Consequence: The outcomes of an event or situation expressed qualitatively or quantitatively, being a loss, injury, disadvantage or gain.
CVO: Chief Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity Victoria, Department of Primary Industries.
Disease: Clinical or non-clinical infection with one or more of the aetiological agents of the diseases.
Domesticated abalone: Domestication implies several factors and no one factor defines it completely. For the purpose of this document, domestication (Lush 1949) means large changes in behaviour, including:
- adaptation to captivity and reduced level of stress in the farm environment;
- reproduction and growth is partly under human control;
- animal's production and quality is improved;
- domestic animals depend partly on the farmers care for their existence.
A domesticated animal is characterised by genetic changes in behaviour, morphology or physiology which are brought about by cultivation under artificial conditions. For the purposes of this protocol, domesticated abalone includes all life stages of abalone.
Endemic: Species restricted in distribution to a particular region.
GMO: Genetically Modified Organism. The full definition of a GMO appears under section 10 of the Commonwealth Gene Technology Act 2000. A GMO is any organism that has been modified by gene technology or which has inherited particular traits from an organism (the initial organism), being traits that occurred in the initial organism due to gene technology. For the purpose of this document, selective breeding or ploidy (chromosome number) manipulation is not considered as genetic technology resulting in a GMO.
Likelihood: Probability or frequency of a particular event or situation occurring.
Marine pest: Unwanted species that can be translocated with abalone (Listed in Hayes et al 2004).
OIE: The Office International des Epizooties (OIE) also known as World Organisation for Animal Health is an intergovernmental organisation that undertakes to collate and disseminate information on animal disease globally.
Quarantine: Maintaining a group of aquatic animals in isolation with no direct or indirect contact with other aquatic animals, in order to undergo observation for a specified length of time and, if appropriate, testing and treatment, including proper treatment of the effluent waters and controlled access by personnel.
Risk: The chance of undesirable events, expressed as a function of the likelihood and consequence of such events.
Risk Assessment: Procedure where estimates of likelihood and consequence of an event are combined to arrive at a given level of risk. Control methods are then developed to rank and reduce the risks.
Supplier: Person or company who is licensed to hold or culture abalone and intends to consign live abalone for the purpose of aquaculture.
TEP: Translocation Evaluation Panel. An expert evaluation panel who will: evaluate all risk assessments; assess all translocation protocols; determine if proposed translocations comply with established protocols; and consider all other translocation proposals on their merits.
World Organisation for Animal Health: The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is an intergovernmental organisation that undertakes to collate and disseminate information on animal disease globally. In May 2004, the World Organisation for Animal Health totalled 167 Member Countries. It has a mandate to safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products. Standards relevant to aquaculture include:
- Aquatic Animal Health Code (OIE, 2006; www.oie.int);
- Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (OIE, 2006; www.oie.int).
Victorian Government legislation and policies drive the need for this protocol.
Key Victorian legislation surrounding the translocation of abalone includes:
- The Fisheries Act 1995, which regulates the commercial abalone industries (including aquaculture) and establishes a number of objectives aimed at achieving ecologically sustainable development with reference to the maintenance of aquatic processes and genetic diversity.
- The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, which provides for the protection and conservation of native flora and fauna.
- The Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, which is administered by the CVO of Department of Primary Industries (DEPI) and aims to control the introduction and spread of disease in Victoria. Under this Act the CVO has the power to declare a place suspected to be infected with an exotic disease as an "infected place" and control movement of stock from that place.
All translocation activities described in this protocol must be licensed under the Fisheries Act 1995 and are subject to the Fisheries Regulations 1998. Licences are subject to any conditions as specified by the Secretary, DEPI. The Fisheries Division, DEPI (Fisheries Victoria), has the lead role in developing a protocol for the translocation of abalone in Victoria.
The Victorian Aquaculture Strategy (1998) highlighted the need to "establish a risk management approach to conserve biodiversity" and further established a goal "to ensure ecologically sustainable development". It was recommended by Fisheries Victoria and Industry that a Translocation Protocol be developed for the abalone aquaculture industry.
The Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria (The Guidelines, DEPI, 2003a) provides the policy framework for developing a protocol for the translocation of abalone into and within Victoria. This protocol aims to mitigate the risks associated with the translocation of abalone for the purpose of aquaculture and in doing so it will facilitate the repeated translocation events in accordance with best practice. All translocation protocols are being developed to fulfil the requirements of the Guidelines.
The Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan (Fisheries Victoria, 2002) is another key policy instrument related to abalone. This document specifies a management plan for the abalone fishery within an ecologically sustainable development (ESD) framework. It specifies fisheries objectives, performance indicators, reference points and trigger responses. There are formal processes for monitoring the effectiveness of management and deciding on appropriate actions in the event of adverse outcomes.
The Victorian abalone aquaculture industry
The abalone aquaculture industry is still developing in Victoria, but is the fastest growing aquaculture sector (Anonymous, 2005). Table 2 shows that production has increased exponentially over the past five years with the value of growout production trebling between 2002/03 and 2003/04. In Australia as a whole production has reached 300 tonnes with a value of $12.2 million and is expected to increase by 20% per year as more farms reach commercial levels (Fleming, 2005).
Blacklip, greenlip and a hybrid abalone are currently farmed in Victoria on farms spread across the state's coastline. The species selected by farmers will depend on the commercial objectives of the farmer or site-specific criteria.
There are 18 license holders in the state; however not all were producing commercially in 2004/05. Figure 2 shows the location of both the land-based and offshore sites currently licensed to culture abalone.
Most production currently comes from land-based, flow-through culture systems. A small number of farmers are trialing offshore culture in cages suspended off long-lines, but production from these systems is not yet commercially significant.
Table 2: Production of abalone in Victorian aquaculture farms 1999/00 to 2004/05 (Anonymous, 2005)
|Seed No (000)||Weight (tonnes)||Value ($000s)|
3 Na, not applicable
It is anticipated that production will continue to increase in the near future as there has been
considerable investment in recent years (AAG, 2005). The slow growth rates of abalone (> three years to reach market size of (80 mm) means that there is a significant lag time between investment and revenue generated.
Land-based aquaculture systems
Land-based abalone aquaculture systems are located along the coastline of Victoria (Figure 2). These systems require a substantial investment in infrastructure, access to a range of services and a supply of good quality seawater. According to Hone and Fleming (1997), there are two types of land-based abalone farms: hatchery based and growout only. Hatchery based farms are vertically integrated comprising hatchery, nursery and growout components. These farms tend to be larger and employ more people. Growout farms on the other hand buy juvenile abalone (20-25 mm, one year old) from hatcheries aiming to growout to market size in 2.5 years (Hone and Fleming, 1997).
Abalone are induced to spawn in special temperature and light controlled hatching rooms (Freeman, 2001). Water supply to the room is filtered down to at least 5 micron (μm) and flow rates are around 1 litre/minute. Spawning tanks are usually rectangular aquaria that house males and females separately. After spawning, the aquaria can be pulled apart and cleaned (Hone and Fleming, 1997). Hatching takes place in hatching tanks and normally takes between 24 hours at 18°C and 36 hours at 14°C. Settlement of the larvae on PVC plates occurs between 4-10 days and larvae are added at a rate that allows for 50% survival during settlement and 5-20% survival to day 150 (Freeman, 2001).
Growout systems culture abalone in tanks of various designs and materials and require a regular exchange of seawater.
Longline or offshore cage culture systems
A number of Aquaculture Licences and General Permits have been issued to investigate the feasibility of offshore culture of abalone. A variety of cage and barrel systems have been trialed. These systems have equipment located on the sea floor or suspended in the water column. In all cases, offshore abalone diets have involved feeding locally sourced or imported, processed seaweed. To date results have shown that whilst stock can be grown to commercial size, problems have been encountered with feeding and cage design. Currently there is no commercial production in Victoria from these systems, although this may change in the near future.
Ranching involves the extensive growout of abalone with proprietorial or exclusive access rights to the planted abalone retained by the developer (Fisheries Victoria, 2002). Ranching will only be permitted on artificial reefs in accordance with requirements of the Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan. A small-scale experimental ranching operation has been authorised within the Kirk Point Werribee Aquaculture and Fisheries Reserve (KPWAFR).
Results from population genetic studies of abalone inhabiting the Victorian coastline are unclear. Weak genetic structuring has been detected in Haliotis laevigata and H. rubra populations in Australia (Brown 1991; Huang et al. 2000). Brown (1991) found that genetic differences were small and geographically cumulative (strong correlation between genetic and geographic distances) so that no particular sample or group of samples was genetically discrete. Huang et al. (2000) found significant differentiation of the Point Cook H. rubra population in Port Phillip Bay from other populations outside of the bay. Conod et al (2002) found no evidence for genetic structuring of H. rubra around Tasmania but suggested that Bass Strait is a significant barrier to gene flow, while Elliot et al. (2002) found no evidence for genetic subdivision between Tasmanian and Australian mainland populations of H. rubra.
In summary, the genetic work to date suggests that there do not appear to be significant barriers to gene flow around the coast of Victoria (apart from perhaps some isolation of a population at Pt Cook in Port Phillip Bay) and that populations along the coast could be considered as a complex metapopulation with some isolation occurring with greater geographical distances.
Future developments in the aquaculture industry
Production from the abalone sector is expected to increase substantially over the next few years as full production is reached at existing facilities and the abalone reach marketable size (AAGA, 2005). In addition, industry is already involved in genetic improvement programs that could substantially increase productivity.
Recent stock losses associated with a viral disease causing ganglioneuritis have significantly impacted on production and, considerable resources are now being put in place to manage risks associated with stock health.
Figure 2: Location of land-based and off-shore licensed abalone aquaculture sites in Victoria.
Genetic improvement programs
With the assistance of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the abalone aquaculture industry over the last 5+ years has invested in selective breeding programs. More recently such programs have been expanded nationally and the establishment of family lines has required extensive movement of abalone. Elliott (2000) postulated that the long-term future of genetic improvement in abalone culture is the production of various strains of pure species and hybrids, produced and maintained by a combination of bio-technology (ploidy and gene manipulation) and selection programs (including the use of genetic markers to assist in broodstock selection). He argued that this could potentially provide the industry with improved growth rates, animals better suited to growout environments, and disease resistant strains (to name only a few).
Extensive research and development is currently underway to investigate the potential for single sex production, tripolidy (Elliott, 2000) and genetic markers for selection programs (Goddard and Baranski, 2004).
An FRDC funded research project is currently underway aimed at training farmers to enable them to implement breeding programs (Xiaoxu Li, pers. comm.). Under this project there have been approved translocations of interstate domesticated broodstock to Victorian farms in accordance with strict General Permit requirements. In recent times there have been first generation selected abalone lines produced. The success of this project will lead to an increased reliance on domesticated stock and reduced demand for wild stock.
Commercial abalone fishery
Australia has a valuable abalone fishery with a wild catch of 5,585 tonnes in 2003-04 (ABARE, 2005) amounting to 55% (from 2001 figures) of the world wild abalone catch (Love and Langenkamp, 2003). There has been a dramatic decline in global abalone production over the last three decades due to overfishing and changes in environmental and ecological dynamics (Gorfine, 2002). Abalone is an important fishery sector for Australia, accounting for $189.4 million and 12% (in 2003-04) of the total value of wild fisheries' production (ABARE, 2006).
Due to its high value the abalone fishery is intensively managed in most states to protect wild stocks and ensure the sustainability of the fishery. Australia is one of the last countries in the world with a healthy wild stock of abalone (Department of Primary Industries, 2003b). The commercial fishery in Victoria is dominated by the blacklip abalone (H. rubra) and is the second largest abalone fishery after Tasmania.
The fishery is intensively managed through gear restrictions, closures, legal minimum lengths, zonation of the fishery, fine scale spatial management, limited access and catch quotas. In Victoria, abalone are fished by divers operating on Abalone Fishery Access Licences (AFAL) and transported to one of 18 licensed abalone processors. There are 71 licenses issued in Victoria, 34 of which operate in the Central zone. Most processors also operate in the Central zone. For the 2006/7 fishing season, the TAC for greenlip was 4.2 tonne the limited status of the resource. Recreation and commercial take of greenlip abalone has been halted in Port Phillip Bay (PPB).
General risks associated with translocation of aquatic organisms in Victoria
The translocation of an aquatic organism at its broadest definition encompasses any human assisted movement of that organism. The translocation of aquatic organisms is recognised as a potentially threatening process to the environment, particularly where such translocation occur outside the natural range of the species being translocated. As aquaculture and fisheries enhancement present opportunities to utilise a range of species within and outside their natural range in a variety of farming systems, it is important to identify and manage the risks associated with this activity. It is also suggested that the aquaculture and fishing industry sectors take an active role in managing this issue to ensure community confidence is maintained.
Risks associated with abalone translocations
Specific risks considered for abalone translocations were:
- disease and parasite introductions;
- genetic shift in wild populations;
- translocation of associated species (the most potentially harmful being marine pests that have been ranked highly as national priority pests (Hayes et al. 2004; Appendix I));
- environmental impacts from release of translocated species; and
- establishment of feral populations.
Summary of Risk Assessment
A risk assessment was conducted according to the DEPI Risk Management Strategic Framework and Process, which is based on the Australian/New Zealand Standard for Risk Management (AS/NZS 4360:1995). An expert panel was convened to cover knowledge of abalone translocations and the main areas of perceived risk. The panel included:
- Dr Mehdi Doroudi. Director, Marine and Freshwater Systems, PIRVic (Aquatic Animal Health)
- Dr Nick Robinson. Senior Scientist, Animal Sciences, PIRVic, (Genetics)
- Dr Michaela Dommisse. Senior Scientist, Department of Sustainability and Environment. (Marine pests / ecology)
- Mr Rodney Roberts. Abalone farmer. (Abalone aquaculture industry)
- Mr Anthony Forster. Aquaculture Manager, Fisheries Victoria. (Fisheries policy)
- Mr John Mercer. Policy Officer, Fisheries Victoria. (Shellfish hatcheries / marine aquaculture)
- Mr Peter Lawson, Aquaculture Development Officer, Port Phillip Region (Aquaculture Development and Compliance)
- Dr Paul Hardy-Smith, Consultant Veterinarian (Aquatic Animal Health)
- Dr Martin Deveney, Project Officer, Fish Health, PIRSA, South Australia.
In addition to the above, Mr Vincent Gannon, commercial abalone fishery advisor was appointed to the expert panel in July 2006.
The evaluation of specific risks associated with the translocation of abalone was undertaken using standard risk assessment criteria. Experts ranked risks on their likelihood and consequence. These rankings were added to give a risk rating as per the following tables.
|Likelihood rating||Description||Likelihood of occurrence rating|
|1||Rare||Event may occur only in exceptional circiumstances.|
|2||Unlikely||The event may occur at some time, say once in 10 years.|
|3||Moderate||The event should occur at some time, say once in three years.|
|4||Likely||The event will probably occur in most circumstances, say once a year.|
|5||Almost Certain||The event is expected to occur in most circumstances, say many times a month.|
|Consequence rating||Description||Environmental rating|
|5||Catastrophic||Serious long-term or widespread environmental harm.|
|4||Major||Significant environmental harm with long-term recovery.|
|3||Moderate||Moderate harm with midterm recovery.|
|2||Minor||Transient environmental harm.|
|1||Insignificant||Brief pollution with effective remediation.|
|High||>8||Requires detailed research, planning and decision-making at senior levels of management.|
|Significant||7||Senior management attention and action needed.|
|Moderate||6||Management responsibility may be specified.|
|Low||<5||No major concern.|
The results of the risk assessment are detailed in Appendix H. All identified "High" risks were associated with disease transfer. "Significant" and "Moderate" risks were associated with disease transfer, movement of marine pests and ecological impact of the introduction of non-endemic abalone species. Risks associated with potential genetic impact were evaluated as being generally low as were other environmental impacts of escapes.
There are international and national protocols concerning identification and notification for molluscan diseases (OIE, 2005; Appendix 4). In addition, key disease hazards related to the translocation of abalone in Australia were recently identified by a panel of experts at a national workshop (Jones and Stephens, 2005) and include:
- Perkinsus olseni
- Vibrio spp
- Non-specific fungal infections
Perkinsus olseni is both nationally and internationally reportable. It is associated with clinical disease in South Australia and NSW (not Victoria), although the causative organism is present in SA, WA, NSW and VIC (but not Tasmania). The current range of P. olseni across Victoria is unknown. The study of P. olseni outbreaks is complicated by the uncertainties of parasite identity; however a recent disease survey by Handlinger (2006) showed no clinical signs of the disease in Victoria. Perkinsus organisms have been identified in Australia in at least eight mollusc species and many of them outside the known areas of abalone disease (Goggin et al., 1989). Perkinsus organisms may have strain differences including pathogenic strains but none have yet been documented (Murrell et al. 2002). Given the recent survey results, uncertainties of parasite identity and potential for pathogenic strains there is potential for Perkinsus olseni being introduced into a non infected location in Victoria, and causing major harm to the industry at a regional level. Once introduced to the region, the disease would be difficult to control or eradicate. As Perkinsus sp. is nationally reportable, presence of the disease could potentially be used as an excuse by an importing nation to initiate a quarantine related trade barrier.
While this disease has caused minor mortalities in interstate farmed stock (Goggin and Lester, 1995), the disease has caused significant mortalities in interstate wild stock. Therefore it was considered unlikely that translocations between aquaculture sites would result in disease transfer, but the likelihood of disease transfer would be higher for movements from the wild to aquaculture.
Vibrio spp are ubiquitous in the marine environment, are present in Victorian farms and the disease, Vibriosis, causing lesions and mortalities, has been reported from farms in SA, Tas, WA and Vic. Outbreaks of the disease are thought to be related to temperature and on farm practices. Organisms within the genus Vibrio can be easily identified and treated, and impacts are usually confined to individual farms. Vibriosis is very likely to occur on farms at some stage.
Flavobacteria are ubiquitous in the environment and so the likelihood of outbreaks in Victorian farms is high, but the consequences were not regarded as serious. Similar considerations were given to non-specific fungal infections.
In December 2005, unusual mortalities were reported in two land-based and one offshore abalone farm. Following an investigation, a presumptive diagnosis that a herpes-like virus, not previously described in abalone in Australia, was the causative agent. It is believed the virus is spread by either direct contact between abalone (potentially via mucous material from infected stock), through the water column, potentially via other activities that involve human or equipment contact between infected and healthy abalone and by other marine species. A similar virus has been found in farmed abalone in Taiwan (Chang et al. 2003).
Fouling organisms and marine pests
Organisms that are carried on or within abalone or their culture equipment could be translocated during stock movements.
Fouling organisms are those that live on and in the animal and include mudworms (Boccardia knoxi and Polydora hoplura). Mudworm infestations occur on farms in most states, but the seriousness of infestation is site specific. Mudworm can be transmitted from wild broodstock to aquaculture systems and from there back to the wild. If areas are free of mudworm, translocation of infected stock to the free area becomes an environmental issue. Abalone grown at sea in Tasmanian estuaries have incurred significant mortalities through mudworm infestations.
The translocation of marine pests has been recognised as a major threat to marine ecosystems throughout the world. In Australia this threat is being addressed by implementing the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions (IGA) signed in Darwin on 15 April 2005. The potential for marine pests to entrain in water, hard surfaces (ropes, cages, barrels and abalone), sediment and offshore gear was used to assess the risk of their translocation. Marine pests were considered in different functional groups that reflect their ability to be transported by a particular vector (Appendix I).
Key risks for abalone translocations
In applying the Risk Management Strategic Framework, 22 risks were identified and scored by the expert risk assessment panel. Of the risks analysed, three were rated as being "high" (requiring detailed research, planning and decision making at senior levels of management). Five risks were rated as being "significant" (requiring senior management attention and action) and a further five risks were rated as "moderate" (may require a specified management response). Outcomes of the full risk assessment can be found in Appendix H.
Risks for abalone translocations
The high risk issues were associated with the transfer of disease through abalone translocations either from interstate or within Victoria, including the temporary holding or transfer of abalone through processing facilities.
- Transfer of disease to Victorian waters through the translocation of abalone from interstate (predominantly wild broodstock from states with a history of disease), other Victorian aquaculture sites (with a recent history of a notifiable disease or unexplained disease outbreak) or processing facilities (movement of broodstock).
"Significant" risks for abalone translocations
All of the significant risk issues were associated with the transfer of disease and unwanted species through abalone translocations either from interstate or within Victoria.
- Transfer of disease to Victorian waters through translocation of any abalone from interstate and other Victoria aquaculture sites with a history (in the past two years) of notifiable diseases or unexplained disease outbreaks.
- Unwanted species translocated in abalone transport water; attached to abalone or gear to and from offshore sites.
"Moderate" risks for abalone translocations
All of the moderate risk issues were associated with the transfer of disease and unwanted species through abalone translocations either from interstate or within Victoria.
- Transfer of disease to Victorian waters through translocation of broodstock from interstate and other Victoria aquaculture sites that have no notifiable or unexplained disease outbreaks over the past two years.
- Non-endemic abalone species mixed with endemic abalone from interstate hatchery will result in established new populations.
Note: Although risks of abalone aquaculture impacting on the genetic integrity of wild abalone were generally considered low (no major concern) by the expert panel, there was some qualification to this risk rating where large numbers of abalone not sourced locally, were grown at sea. In view of the above, control measures were specified to manage this risk (see Protocol control measure 4.4).
Protocols for abalone translocation in Victoria
Translocation of abalone within Victoria
These protocols deal with translocation of abalone into and within Victoria undertaken by the Victorian abalone aquaculture industry. As such these translocations apply only to licensees or permit holders authorised under the Fisheries Act 1995. It is recognised, that minimum standards specified in this protocol will equally apply to the interstate movement of abalone for the purposes of aquaculture.
These protocols have been developed in accordance with the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria. The protocol establishes new administrative (reporting, licensing), design (biosecurity) and operational (surveillance and monitoring) standards that, combined, provide a heightened level of management control. Control measures have been developed to address risks associated with specific pathways.
Implementation of this protocol will require the establishment of new conditions on abalone aquaculture licences that enable compliance/ enforcement in accordance with the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1995 and Fisheries Regulations 1998. To enable adaptive management, this protocol will be reviewed from time to time.
It is important to note that in addition to this protocol, a suite of other regulatory and policy arrangements (refer page 4) are also available that enable additional controls to be put in place at short notice including, powers under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994. For example, the Secretary may declare an area or zone as an infected place, control area or restricted area. This may be used to prevent or control an outbreak of disease. Specific controls may also be established to regulate the introduction of aquatic animals into the state of Victoria. This protocol will be reviewed from time to time and amended as required to comply with regulatory and or policy arrangements. Any proposed changes to the protocol will require consultation with affected industry parties and or relevant consultative bodies.
The risk assessment identified and prioritised high, significant and moderate risks associated with the translocation of abalone associated with aquaculture within and into Victoria. The highest risks were associated with the potential for disease transfer through translocations. Other important risks were associated with the transfer of marine pests and fouling organisms and the introduction of abalone species not endemic (e.g. H. roei) to Victoria.
It is important to recognise that while a single control measure may not cover all risks, the adoption of a range of control strategies is designed to achieve effective risk management.
A number of pathways are "not permitted within this protocol" on the basis of unacceptable risk and or limited ability to control that risk. Applications to translocate abalone in such pathways would be subject to a full risk assessment in accordance with the Victorian translocation guidelines and be considered by the Translocation Evaluation Panel (TEP).
Translocation of broodstock
Pathway #1: Translocation of wild broodstock from Victorian waters to licensed land-based aquaculture sites.
- 1.1 Abalone broodstock for the purposes of aquaculture may only be harvested from the wild under the authorisation of a General Permit and in accordance with permit conditions.
- 1.2 Prior to collection of abalone the permit holder must observe the health status of abalone on the reef and report any unusual mortalities, signs of mortalities or disease to DEPI within 24 hours of observation.
- 1.3 Abalone may not be collected from reefs with an "infected status" as defined under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, or suspected infected status.
- 1.4 Licence holders are required to comply with broodstock quarantine and biosecurity arrangements as specified in Appendix A.
- 1.5 A wild broodstock batch is, stock collected from the same reef code4 within a seven day period.
- 1.6 All abalone broodstock must be inspected on arrival for the presence of attached marine exotic organisms by hatchery staff familiar with the marine pests listed in Appendix I.
- 1.7 In the event of a suspect marine exotic organism (Appendix I) the licence holder must inform DEPI of the suspected marine exotic organism's presence within 24 hours, remove the suspect marine exotic(s) organism, preserve in formalin and make available on request to DEPI for identification purposes.
- 1.8 Wild broodstock may not be translocated from the original broodstock quarantine facility (Appendix A).
- 1.9 All wild caught abalone broodstock mortalities and non-retained broodstock must be bagged in lots of ten or less, frozen and labelled with the date and time of freezing and the number of abalone in the container, and retained on the premises for collection by a Fisheries Officer at an agreed time.
- 1.10 All licence holders undertaking abalone aquaculture are required to undertake an annual audit to detail the extent of compliance with the Protocol as specified in Appendix G.
Pathway #2: Translocation of wild broodstock from licensed Fish Receiver / processor to licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.
- 2.1 This translocation pathway is not permitted within this protocol and would be subject to a separate risk assessment in accordance with Department translocation guidelines.
Pathway #3: Translocation of domesticated broodstock between licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture sites.
- 3.1 Same control as in 1.10 in addition to:
- 3.2 Licence holders are required to comply with farm bio-security standards as specified in Appendix B.
- 3.3 Prior to the translocation of domesticated broodstock abalone the licence holder is required to provide a certificate of compliance signed by a competent veterinary authority that declares the aquaculture facility is free of notifiable disease (Livestock Disease Control Act 1994) based on an ongoing stock health surveillance program described in relevant AQUAPLAN or World Organisation for Animal Health manuals (refer Appendix D for surveillance guidelines); or
- 3.4 Prior to the translocation of broodstock abalone and in the absence of an approved surveillance program (refer Appendix D), the licence holder is required to demonstrate that the abalone population proposed for consignment are declared free of notifiable diseases and any unexplained disease outbreak (Livestock Disease Control Act 1994) by providing a certificate of stock health from a competent veterinary authority in accordance with requirements outlined in Appendix E; or
- 3.5 Licence holders are required to comply with broodstock quarantine and biosecurity arrangements as specified in Appendix A, and provide a declaration from the supplier stating that the broodstock is free of any clinical signs of disease and has shown no unexplained mortality over the past 24 months.
Translocation of abalone (non broodstock)
Pathway # 4a: Translocation of abalone (non broodstock) between licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture sites.
- 4.1 Same controls as in 1.10, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4. in addition to:
- 4.2 Abalone larvae may only be translocated if the competent veterinarian authority declares the aquaculture facility (and relevant stock) is free of notifiable diseases in accordance with a recognised health surveillance program (refer Appendix D).
Pathway # 4b: Translocation of abalone (non broodstock) from licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site to licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site.
- 4.3 Same controls as in 1.10, 3.3, 3.4 and 4.2 in addition to:
- 4.4 Licence holders are required to comply with farm bio-security standards as specified in Appendix C.
- 4.5 The parentage of abalone, whose progeny is intended to be grown in offshore aquaculture facilities, must be sourced from within the same embayment or from a location approved by Fisheries Victoria.
Pathway # 5a: Translocation of abalone from licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site to licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.
- 5.1 Same as those controls shown in 1.10, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4.
Pathway # 5b: Translocation of abalone between licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture sites.
- 5.2 Same as those controls shown in 1.10, 3.3, 3.4 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5..
Inadvertent translocation of abalone, marine pests and disease agents
Pathway #6: Inadvertent translocation of abalone (marine pests or disease agents) from licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site to Victorian marine waters.
- 6.1 Same as those controls for 1.10, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4, in addition to:
- 6.2 The licence holder (or nominee) is required to monitor the health status of wild abalone (if present) and survey for marine exotics within a radius of 50 metres of the land-based waste water discharge or offshore aquaculture equipment on a biannual basis or during a period of significant mortality5 using approved diving practices (refer Appendix F).
- 6.3 The licence holder must ensure that all farm screens, barriers, nets, sluices or other equipment designed to contain abalone within the farm are securely fastened in place and are in proper working order and of an appropriate size to prevent escape.
- 6.4 Abalone must not be stocked or allowed to reside in the settlement tanks or ponds and outfall channels of land-based premises.
Pathway #7: Inadvertent translocation of abalone (marine pests or disease agents) from licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site to Victorian marine waters.
- 7.1 Same as those controls for 1.10, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and 6.2 in addition to:
- 7.2 The licence holder is prohibited from the disposing of live, dead or moribund abalone into the marine environment.
- 7.3 The Licence holder is required to maintain all commercial aquaculture equipment so as to prevent escape of abalone and ensure that it remains in seaworthy condition at all times.
- 7.4 The licence holder is required to comply with the Guidelines for Environmental Baseline Surveys and Ongoing Monitoring of Aquaculture Fisheries Reserves in Port Phillip and Western Port.
Translocation of abalone from interstate to Victoria
Pathway # 8: Translocation of wild broodstock and larval progeny from interstate to licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.
- 8.1 This pathway is not permitted within this protocol and would be subject to a separate risk assessment in accordance with Department translocation guidelines.
Pathway # 9: Translocation of wild broodstock from licensed interstate fish receiver/processor to either licensed Victorian land-based or offshore, aquaculture site.
- 9.1 This pathway is not permitted within this protocol and would be subject to a separate risk assessment in accordance with Department translocation guidelines.
Pathway # 10a: Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed land-based interstate aquaculture site to licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.
- 10.1 Same controls as in 1.10, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4.
Pathway #10b: Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed interstate land-based aquaculture site to licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site.
- 10.2 This pathway is not permitted within this protocol and would be subject to a separate risk assessment in accordance with Department translocation guidelines.
Pathway # 11a: Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed interstate offshore aquaculture site to licensed Victorian land-based aquaculture site.
- 11.1 Same as those controls in 1.10, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4.
Pathway # 11b: Translocation of domesticated abalone from licensed interstate offshore aquaculture site to licensed Victorian offshore aquaculture site.
- 11.2 This pathway is not permitted within this protocol and would be subject to a separate risk assessment in accordance with Department translocation guidelines.
This Protocol was developed by the DEPI with input from a range of industry and Government stakeholders. In the drafting of the document specific mention is warranted regarding the contributions of Fiona Gavine, John Mercer and Anthony Forster.
DEPI also wishes to acknowledge the role of the expert risk assessment panel and in particular the contribution of Dr Mehdi Doroudi and Dr Paul Hardy-Smith. Thanks also to Dr Marty Deveney from Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) for providing an interstate comparative legislative and policy context. And finally thanks go to Dr Mark Crane and Dr Nick Elliot from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory,CSIRO for reviewing the document and providing valuable comment.
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Baranski M. (2006). Molecular genetic markers for abalone aquaculture. PhD Thesis, Deakin University.
Baranski M., Loghnan S., Austin C. and Robinson N. (in press). Linkage maps of microsatellite DNA markers for the blacklip abalone, Haliotis rubra. Animal Genetics
Baranski M., Rourke M., Loughnan S., Austin C. and Robinson N (2006). Isolation and characterization of 126 microsatellite DNA markers in the blacklip abalone Haliotis rubra. Molecular Ecology Notes 6, 740-746.
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Chang, P. H., Kuo,T. K., Lai, S. H., Yang, H. S., Ting, Y. Y., Hsu, C. L. and Chen, H. C. (2003). Herpes-like virus infection causing mortality of cultured abalone Haliotis diversicolor supertexta in Taiwan. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, Volume 65, p 23-27, 2005.
Conod, N., Bartlett, J., Evans, B.S., and Elliott, N.G. (2002). "Comparison of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses of population structure in the blacklip abalone Haliotis rubra leach." Mar. Freshwater Res. 53 : 711-718.
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Fisheries Victoria, (2002). Victorian Abalone Fishery Management Plan. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Melbourne, Victoria.
Fleming, A. (2005). Abalone Aquaculture. FRDC subprogram leaders report. FRDC R&D News, 13, (4), p 42-43.
Freeman, (2001). Aquaculture and related biological attributes of abalone species in Australia – a review. Fisheries Resources Report Western Australia 128, 1-48.
Goddard, M. and Baranski, M. (2004). Use of marker assisted genetic breeding to improve abalone and abalone products. AB brief. Developments in abalone aquaculture , Volume 7 Issue 1 May 2004,
Goggin, C.L. and R.J.G. Lester. (1995). Perkinsus, a protistan parasite of abalone in Australia: a review. Marine Fisheries Research 46: 639-646.
Gorfine, H. K. (2002). Assessment of the Sustainability of Victorian abalone Resources. PhD Thesis. University of Technology, Sydney.
Handlinger, J., Bastainello, S., Callinan, R., Carson, J., Creeper, J., Deveney, M., Forsyth, W. M., Freeman, K., Hooper, C., Jones, B., Lancaster, M., Landos, M., Loh, R., Oyay, B. S., Phillips, P., Pyecroft, S. and Stephens, F. (2006). Abalone Aquaculture Subprogram: A National Survey of Diseases of Abalone Species to Support Trade and Translocation Issues and the Development of Health Surveillance programs. FRDC Project No. 2002/201.
Hayes, K., Sliwa, C., Migus, S., McEnnulty, P. and Dunstan, P. (2004). National priority pests. Ranking of Australian marine pests. CSIRO.
Hayes B., Baranski M. and Robinson N. (in press). Optimisation of marker assisted selection for abalone breeding programs. Aquaculture.
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Huang, B. X., Peakall, R. and Hanna, P. J. (2000) Analysis of genetic structure of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) populations using RAPD, minisatellite and microsatellite markers. Marine Biology, Vol 136, 2, 207-216.
Jones, B. and Stephens, F. (2005). Aquatic Animal Health Sub-Program: Development of a National Translocation Policy Using Abalone and Prawns as templates for other aquatic species. FRDC Draft Final report Project No 2004/080.
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Murrell, A., Kleeman, S.H., Barker, S. C., Lester, R.J.G. (2002). Synonymy of Perkinsus olseni Lester & Davis, 1981 and Perkinsus atlanticus Azevedo, 1989 and an update on the phylogenetic position of the genus Perkinsus. Bulletin of the European association of fish pathologists 22: 258-265.
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Robinson N., Hayes B., Goddard M., Austin C., McKinnon L., Li X. and Baranski M. (2006). Abalone aquaculture subprogram: Use of marker assisted genetic breeding to improve abalone and abalone products. Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Project No. 2002/202. Primary Industries Research Victoria, Attwood.
Appendix A. Broodstock quarantine and biosecurity standards
The following standards are required in addition to those described in Appendix B.
Broodstock holding facility
- A1. All abalone broodstock batches received at the land-based aquaculture site must be held in a fully enclosed and secure broodstock holding facility (lockable and vermin proof).
- A2. Each abalone broodstock batch delivered to the broodstock holding facility must be retained in labelled separate culture vessel(s) without commingling with other stock.
- A3. Foot baths will be located at all entry and exit points and maintained so as to provide for effective disinfection of footwear at all times.
- A4. Hand washing basins will be located at main entry and exit points.
- A5. There will be zero discharge of untreated liquid effluent from the enclosed broodstock facility to the marine environment.
- A6. Liquid wastes, including water used to transport abalone, must be disinfected using methods listed in AQUAPLAN or World Organisation for Animal Health manuals.
- A7. All filtered residues, filters and other solid waste outputs will be disinfected in a manner listed in AQUAPLAN or World Organisation for Animal Health manuals.
- A8. A record of all wastewater treatment (disinfection) processes must be maintained and made available to DEPI staff on request.
- A9. All staff are required to disinfect hands and footwear prior to exiting the facility.
- A10.Staff must undertake daily monitoring of all broodstock for the presence of disease, morbidity and or any unusual behaviour which may indicate the presence of disease.
- A11.Daily monitoring must be recorded in a bound book with numbered pages.
- A12.Record books must be kept for a period of 3 years after the date of the last entry.
Appendix B. General land-based abalone farm bio-security standards
Disinfection / hygiene practices
- B1. All culture unit(s) used to hold abalone must be maintained to ensure that any build up of organic matter such as faeces, uneaten feed, mortalities and fouling organisms does not compromise the health of the abalone and contribute to an increased risk of disease.
- B2. Culture units used to hold abalone must be exposed to fallowing, dry out and disinfection between consignments of stock.
- B3. All waste water outlet channels and pipes must be regularly inspected, cleaned and where possible disinfected.
- B4. Foot baths must be provided at key locations and maintained so as to provide effective disinfection of footwear at all times.
- B5. All dead and moribund abalone must be removed from the culture units as soon as practical but at least daily.
- B6. All mortalities must be disposed of in a manner approved by the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority.
- B7. Any equipment, protective clothing or footwear brought on to the aquaculture site that will come into contact with abalone or water used to hold abalone must be cleaned prior to use.
- B8.Any equipment, protective clothing or footwear used on the aquaculture site must not be used on another aquaculture site unless it is cleaned and disinfected prior to use.
- B9.Use dedicated equipment and or protective clothing for specific areas (e.g. broodstock facility, nursery, growout etc.) of the aquaculture site.
- B10. Restrict staff movement to only those areas where they undertake regular duties.
- B11. Restrict public access and movement throughout the aquaculture site.
- B12. Undertake daily inspections of all abalone stock for the presence of disease, morbidity or any unusual behaviour which may indicate the presence of disease.
- B13. Retain accurate records of all inspections. Records will include the number (and species) of abalone held in each culture vessel, stocking rates, mortalities, incidence of significant stressors and other fish health observations.
- B14. Maintain an accurate record of all translocation movements onto and off the aquaculture site including the location and contact details of the supplier or receiver, date of supply and the numbers and species of abalone translocated.
- B15. Record books must be kept for a period of 3 years after the date of the last entry.
Monitoring of marine exotic organisms
- B16. A subset (maximum of 150 or 2% or whichever is lesser) of all abalone stock must be inspected on arrival at the aquaculture site for the presence of attached marine exotic organisms and the results of these inspections recorded in a log book.
- B17. In the event of a suspected marine exotic the licence holder must inform DEPI of the suspected marine exotic presence within 24 hours, removed the suspect marine exotic(s) organism, preserve in formalin and make available to DEPI on request for identification purposes.
- B18. In the event of significant mortality or suspected disease the licence holder is required to inform DEPI within 24 hours.
- B19. On request, make available to DEPI the infected stock for the purpose of pathological examinations.
Post translocation quarantine
- B20. On arrival, all batches of translocated abalone must be quarantined from other farm stock for a minimum period of 6 weeks. Quarantine involves: separate sea water supply, feeding and cleaning system; effective spatial or physical barriers to reduce cross contamination by splashing; and, arrangements for controlling access by personal.
Appendix C. General offshore abalone farm bio-security standards
Disinfection / hygiene practices
- C1. All culture unit(s) used to hold abalone must be maintained to ensure that any build up of organic matter such as faeces, uneaten feed, mortalities and fouling organisms does not compromise the health of the abalone and contribute to an increased risk of disease.
- C2. Culture units used to hold abalone must be exposed to fallowing, dry out and disinfection between consignments of stock.
- C3. All dead and moribund abalone must be removed from the culture units immediately on inspection or as soon as practical therafter on the day of inspection.
- C4. All mortalities must be disposed of in a manner approved by the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority.
- C5. Any equipment, protective clothing or footwear brought on to the aquaculture site that will come into contact with abalone must be cleaned prior to use.
- C6. Any equipment, protective clothing or footwear used on the aquaculture site must not be used on another aquaculture site unless it is cleaned and disinfected prior to use.
- C7. Restrict public access and movement throughout the aquaculture site.
- C8. Undertake daily inspections (weather permitting) of all abalone stock for the presence of disease, morbidity or any unusual behaviour which may indicate the presence of disease.
- C9. Retain accurate records of all inspections. Records will include the number (and species) of abalone held in each culture vessel, stocking rates, mortalities, incidence of significant stressors and other fish health observations.
- C10. Maintain an accurate record of all translocation movements onto and off the aquaculture site including the location and contact details of the supplier or receiver, date of supply and the numbers and species of abalone translocated.
- C11. Record books must be kept for a period of 3 years after the date of the last entry.
Monitoring of marine exotic organisms
- C12. A subset (maximum of 150 or 2% or whichever is lesser) of all abalone stock must be inspected on arrival at the aquaculture site for the presence of attached marine exotic organisms and the results of these inspections recorded in a log book.
- C13. In the event of a suspected marine exotic the licence holder must inform DEPI of the suspected marine exotic presence within 24 hours, removed the suspect marine exotic(s) organism, preserve in formalin and make available to DEPI on request for identification purposes.
- C14. In the event of significant mortality or suspected disease the licence holder is required to inform DEPI within 24 hours.
- C15. On request make available to DEPI the infected stock for the purpose of pathological examinations.
- C16. Prior to translocation of abalone to an offshore site, each batch must be quarantined for a minimum period of 6 weeks. Quarantine involves: separate sea water supply, feeding and cleaning systems; effective spatial or physical barriers to reduce cross contamination by splashing; and, arrangements for controlling access by personal.
- C17. In the event of a stock health certification being withdrawn by the approved veterinarian, the veterinarian may recommend to DEPI an extension of the quarantine period or any other action to further assess the health status of quarantined abalone.
- C18. The recommendations of the veterinarian in respect of C17, must be approved by DEPI prior to the veterinarian issuing a new stock health certificate.
Appendix D. Health surveillance programfor abalone farms
Notes to licence holders:
- D1. A well structured active surveillance program is an internationally recognised means of demonstrating the health status of both stock and aquaculture facilities. If endorsed, such a program will:
- enable market access and trade;
- facilitate translocation of live product;
- improve farm productivity and husbandry responsiveness; and
- reduce potential impacts to the environment.
- D2. All fish health surveillance program(s) referenced in this protocol refer to those that fulfil the requirements in AQUAPLAN or World Organisation for Animal Health manuals.
- D3. It is recommended that licence holders wishing to prepare a fish health surveillance program seek endorsement of their program from DEPI.
- D4. AQUAPLAN is Australia's National Strategic Plan for Aquatic Animal Health. It is a broad comprehensive strategy to build and enhance capacity for the management of aquatic animal health in Australia.
- D5. The World Organisation for Animal Health provides internationally recognised standards for developing and implementing targeted fish health surveillance programs for aquaculture businesses.
- D6. Prior to developing a fish health surveillance program, it is recommended that licence holders review AQUAPLAN and Chapter 1.1.4 "Requirements for surveillance for international recognition of freedom from infection" in the Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals, 2006.
- D7. DEPI criteria for assessing fish health surveillance programs will be drawn from AQUAPLAN and World Organisation for Animal Health manuals.
Appendix E. Batch certification requirements for abalone stock
Aquaculture licence holders must meet or exceed the following requirements in order to achieve required DEPI standards for batch certification.
- E1. Provide a declaration issued by the supplier that there has been no notifiable diseases (Livestock Disease Control Act 1994) or unexplained disease outbreak for the past 24 months.
- E2. Provide a certificate of stock health from an approved veterinarian6 certifying that the proposed consignment of abalone(s) is free of notifiable diseases (Livestock Disease Control Act 1994). This certificate will be based on:
- A visit to the premises by the approved veterinarian to inspect the health status of the stock for the presence of clinically abnormal abalone and a review of relevant farm records7 and farm biosecurity.
- Where there has been no previous pathological testing of abalone, pathological examination of abalone that would enable, at the 95% confidence level, certification that a notifiable disease is not present in the population of abalone tested, based on an assumed pathogen prevalence of 2% or above. Abalone for this sampling must be collected by the approved veterinarian at the time of the visit to the premises. Bias in the sampling should be made towards animals showing clinical signs of disease or showing signs of weakness when handled (e.g. failure to firmly adhere to substrate). For a single batch test, the sample numbers required for these default values (i.e. 95% confidence, 2% prevalence) are provided in Table 1 in Chapter 1.2 of the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (2006), i.e. 150 animals for these parameters
- Historical pathological testing of populations can provide useful information and can be used as supportive evidence for certifying freedom from disease of abalone. How useful this information is will depend on a number of factors, including the biosecurity measures adopted at the premises during the relevant historical period and whether or not the abalone populations destined to be translocated were part of a formal health monitoring and surveillance program. The approved veterinarian may elect to reduce the number of abalone sampled for pathological testing at the time of the visit based on the assessment of the historical information. Such a reduction in number is acceptable provided that the resulting level of confidence for freedom of notifiable disease in the abalone population is at least equivalent to the level of confidence provided by the single batch test default values. If a reduction of sample size occurs, appropriate justification, based on scientific grounds, must be provided in the veterinarian's certificate of stock health.
For interstate translocation:
- E3. Provide a certificate from the competent veterinarian authority of that state or territory certifying that notifiable diseases of abalone has not been reported over the past 24 months from the region in which the premises are located.
Pre-consignment interstate hatchery accreditation:
- E4. In addition to the above requirements, all abalone including larvae to be translocated from licensed interstate aquaculture sites must be accompanied by a statement of compliance. This statement must explain the steps undertaken by the site to eliminate non endemic abalone species from the proposed consignment and must be signed by the responsible licence holder or delegate.
- E5. A copy of a certificate of stock health must be provided to the Aquaculture Section of Fisheries Victoria at least two business days prior to the translocation.
- E6. The certificate of stock health will be valid for a maximum period of two weeks after the date of issue. The certificate will be invalidated if there is evidence of disease, significant or unexplained mortality, commingling with other stock that may compromise the health status of the batch or breach of quarantine.
Appendix F. Diving practices and disinfection protocols
The following protocol applies to dive inspections of abalone on reef (natural or man-made) in close proximity to both licensed abalone farm discharges and licensed abalone offshore aquaculture sites (refer Section 6.2).
- F1. All divers and support staff must meet all relevant Marine Safety Victoria and Australian diving standards.
- F2. Divers are required to inspect reef habitat (water depth less than 20 metres) by diving and carefully observing and recording the presence of any dead, dying or moribund abalone and the presence of any unusual signs that may suggest a disease event in wild abalone stock.
- F3. Particular diligence and attention to detail is warranted to observe abalone and sufficient time should be allowed for this purpose. A minimum dive time of twenty (20) minutes should occur over known abalone habitats. Divers must inspect a minimum of 100 abalone (if present) and record the number of live, moribund and recently dead abalone.
- F4. The location of each diving activity (reef code description, GPS or other landmark or feature) must be accurately recorded in a log book. The log book must be made available to Fisheries Victoria authorised officers on request.
- F5. The licence holder is required to report any incidence of dead, dying or moribund abalone and the presence of any unusual signs that may suggest a disease event in wild abalone stock to Fisheries Victoria within 24 hours of observations.
- F6. For the purposes of disinfecting wet suits, gloves, abalone irons and other associated diving equipment, there are a range of suitable disinfection techniques9. Prior to any disinfection, organic material should be removed and appropriately disposed of before applying the disinfectant.
- F7. The common disinfectants are listed below.
- A solution of Calcium hypochlorite Ca(OCl)2 prepared daily at a minimum active concentration of 7g/litre. When using Calcium hypochlorite or Virkon™ the exposure (contact time) shall exceed 10 minutes applied by immersion.
- Virkon™ powder at a concentration of 20g/litre or equivalent.
- Disinfection of equipment using commercially available cleaning products such as Truckwash™, Napisan™ or equivalent requires longer contact periods and product directions must be followed.
When to apply disinfection
- F8. Disinfection of gloves and abalone irons must occur between dives at the same location and complete gear disinfection must occur when moving between dive locations.
- F9. Divers are required when diving to inspect reef habitat, observing and recording the presence of any marine exotics (Appendix I), and report any presence to DEPI.
Appendix G. Compliance auditing
Abalone aquaculture licence holders are required to submit to the DEPI an annual audit report that details the extent of the licence holder's compliance with the Abalone Aquaculture Translocation Protocol (the Protocol).
DEPI approved auditor
The audit shall be prepared by an independent contractor approved by the DEPI as having the following skills and experience:
- veterinarian experienced in aquatic health management;
- demonstrated ability to prepare reports and conduct systems audits, and;
- detailed understanding of current abalone aquaculture farming methods and biosecurity practices.
In addition to the above and prior to commencing the audit, the contractor is required to identify and communicate to DEPI any potential conflict of interest that may exist between the licence holder and the contractor. The contractor will be required to demonstrate to DEPI how any conflict of interest can be managed.
Conducting the audit
The approved contractor is required to; visit the aquaculture site(s); interview relevant aquaculture staff; review written records; observe culture facilities (including relevant broodstock quarantine arrangements) and; inspect stock; aquaculture equipment; disinfection methods; waste water outlets; channels and associated infrastructure.
Audit reporting framework
DEPI will prepare guidelines for the auditing of abalone farms against the protocol including relevant check lists and reporting frameworks.
These guidelines will allow for the integration of audit requirements within a farm accredited surveillance program.
The approved contractor is required to prepare a report that includes a systems audit of relevant control actions specified in the protocol in accordance with the audit guidelines. The report shall identify areas of compliance and noncompliance and any other observations that may pose an increased risk to the environment.
DEPI will establish the requirement for licence holders to submit an annual audit report.
The preparation of this report will be at the cost of the aquaculture licence holder.
Timeframe for implementation
Licence holders will be required to submit their first audit report within 12 months of publication of the protocol and annually thereafter or as requested by the Secretary, DEPI or delegate.
Appendix H. Risk assessment study of abalone translocation in Victoria
Application of the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria (the Guidelines) (Department of Primary Industries, 2003).
In line with the above "guidelines", a risk assessment has been conducted to identify the major risks that will need to be addressed in order to develop an Abalone Translocation Protocol for Victoria. Eleven possible translocation scenarios were assessed (Table 3). The risks associated with abalone seed were deemed to be the same as the risks for juvenile or adult and were combined under the generic term "abalone". The risk associated with the movement of broodstock was deemed higher and was therefore assessed separately for specific pathways. During the risk assessment, each of these eleven translocations was repeatedly considered against each identified risk.
The objective in developing the abalone aquaculture translocation protocol is to preserve the natural and farmed stocks of Victorian abalone, and to ensure that any abalone translocations do not adversely impact the Victorian marine environment. The protocol was developed by evaluating the major translocation risks posed by introducing diseases, marine pests or other undesirable changes to the abalone stocks through a genetic shift.
Major risk category – Impact of abalone translocations on genetics of wild populations
NB: Like. = likelihood and Conseq. = consequence.
|Risk Category||Specific Risk||Like||Conseq||Risk Rating||Comments|
|Genetic||Translocation of abalone to offshore culture systems will negatively impact on the genetic integrity of wild populations.||1||2||3 (LOW)|
This risk includes both the farming of abalone at sea and the transportation of the abalone to offshore culture sites.
The risk rating is low for at sea abalone growout given culture units are enclosed. The overall risk however may increase where large numbers of abalone are accidentally released to the environment where they may 'swamp' and out compete wild stock (if present).
Aquaculture sites are typically located away from natural reefs.
|Genetic||Translocation of abalone seed for ranching will negatively impact on the genetic integrity of wild populations.||2||2||4|
This risk is considered low Ranching involves the deliberate release and colonisation of artificial reef to establish new populations. The extent of the risk is proportionate to the numbers of abalone released and the extent to which those abalone may differ genetically from surrounding populations. Minor impacts could occur with long term recovery.
Abalone ranching trials are soon to commence at the Kirks Point Werribee Aquaculture Fisheries Reserve.
If locally sourced broodstock were used it is likely that genetic traits that survive would be similar to those required by wild population.
|Genetic||Return of abalone broodstock to the wild will negatively impact on the genetic integrity of wild populations.||1||1||2||The activity of returning aquaculture broodstock to the wild is not permitted, (refer Abalone Fishery Management Plan and licence conditions).|
|Genetic||Escape of domesticated abalone stock from landbased farms will negatively impact on wild stocks.||1|
The main focus of selective breeding programs is to select for favourable growth rates under intensive farming conditions. It would follow that traits for selected stocks may be less competitive in the wild. Gene pools of genetically selected stock are generally rapidly diluted when bred with wild
This risk predicates the escape of abalone from the land-based farm. At present, landbased farms actively manage that risk of escape of juvenile and adult abalone.
The likelihood of individual escapees having impacts is low. The risk rating may increase where domesticated farmed abalone are sourced from distant geographic regions (presumably with increased genetic differences between local wild stock) and, with increased numbers of escapees.
|Genetic||Land transportation of abalone between Victorian and-based sites will negatively impact on the genetic integrity of wild populations.||1||1||2||Land transportation of abalone reduces risk of genetic impacts. The transport of abalone larvae or other life stages between land-based farms can also result in accidental escapes. The probability of these escapes resulting in survival and effective competition with wild stock in terms of breeding, is extremely low, particularly where land-based transport is employed.|
|Genetic||Land transportation of abalone from Interstate land-based sites will negatively impact on the genetic integrity of wild populations.||1||1||2||Refer above. Land transportation of abalone reduces risk of genetic impacts.|
Major risk category – Ecological impacts of abalone translocationsNB: Like. = likelihood and Conseq. = consequence.
|Risk Category||Specific Risk||Like.||Conseq.||Risk Rating||Comments|
|Ecological impacts||Translocation of domesticated abalone seed to offshore culture systems will result in competition with, and displacement of, wild marine species populations.||2||2||4||Similar issues to ranching with lower risk profile given culture facilities are enclosed.|
|Ecological impacts||Escape of domesticated seed from land-based farms will result in competition with, and displacement of, wild marine species populations||1||1||2|
In order for significant impact on the genetic integrity of wild abalone stocks , the following scenarios would need to occur: released/escape of large quantities of abalone (gametes, larvae, juveniles or adults) from growout tanks to the marine environment; survival of escapees to maturity; successful breeding of escapees and dominance of selectively bred traits (escapee abalone outnumbering wild stock). The probability of the above chain of events occurring is considered low for land-based farming.
Should escape occur, it is likely that strong natural selective pressures will reduce the chance of impacts. Probability of individuals contributing to genetic shift is low.
Major risk category – Impact of translocations by industry on disease transferNB: Like. = likelihood and Conseq. = consequence.
|Risk Category||Specific Risk||Like.||Conseq.||Risk Rating||Comments|
|Disease Perkinsus||Transfer of P. olseni to Victorian waters through translocation of farmed abalone seed and juveniles from states with a history of the disease.||3||4||7|
While there is no evidence of this disease causing mortality in farmed stock, the disease has caused significant mortality in interstate wild stock and poses a threat to Victorian abalone.
The risks are higher when abalone are translocated in untreated seawater that may harbour the disease agent.
|Disease Viruses||Transfer of P. olseni to Victorian waters through translocation of farmed, domesticated abalone broodstock from states with a history of the disease.||2||4||6||Refer above. This scenario is less likely as water is not generally used when transporting broodstock.|
|Transfer of P. olseni to Victorian waters through translocation of wild abalone broodstock from states with a history of the disease to Victorian abalone farms.||5||4||9||This pathway presents significant risks to both aquaculture and farmed stock.|
|Disease Vibrio||Transfer of Herpes-like virus from infected premises or a recent history of disease through translocations||5||4||9|
This risk is significant and requires active management. There remains uncertainty about the extent of its distribution in wild abalone.
The origin of this disease agent is unknown. It is possible the virus is naturally present in wild populations and under conditions of stress may account for low level mortality in the wild. In the absence of diagnostic tests to detect its presence in non-clinical, wild abalone populations this is difficult to validate.
A range of international surveillance and accreditation standards can be applied to manage this risk. Legislative controls may also be used if necessary. To protect farm stock, increased levels of farm biosecurity is warranted, and active surveillance.
|Transfer of Herpes-like virus from a premises with a recent history (2 years) of disease through translocations||3||4||7||Refer above. The risks are significantly lower following adoption of disinfection and other biosecurity standards.|
|Transfer of Vibrio to Victorian waters through translocation of abalone.||3||1||4||Opportunistic disease-causing organisms typically associated with stress and poor husbandry.|
|Unknown diseases||Transfer of unknown diseases through movement of abalone broodstock to farms from the wild in Victorian waters.||2||4||6||This risk is generic in nature. Diligence in the adoption of biosecurity and translocation standards is required. Active surveillance programs, in particular, will improve knowledge of disease causing agents and enable rapid detection and appropriate response controls.|
|Transfer of unknown diseases through movement of wild abalone broodstock from interstate||3||4||7|
Refer above. This risk is higher given the limited knowledge of wild abalone health status from other states.
Disease free batch accreditation or other accreditation based on surveillance is unlikely for wild abalone as it is either too expensive (wild stock monitoring) or requires large numbers of highly valued broodstock (destructive sampling of 150 abalone) to achieve statistical significance.
|Temporary holding/ transfer of broodstock at live holding/processing facilities||4||4||8|
The practice of sourcing or holding abalone broodstock from or in commercial processors facilities significantly elevates the risk of cross infection as abalone (and other species) are sourced from a wide geographical range, may harbour diseases and express disease due to stressful processing conditions.
Note: South Australia does not allow the purchase of abalone through processors.
Major risk category – Translocations of unwanted speciesNB: Like. = likelihood and Conseq. = consequence.
|Translocation of unwanted species|
Unwanted species translocated in water to land-based sites.
Only applies to abalone transported in water.
Key unwanted species refers to a host of undesirable aquatic pests of all life stages that may colonise the marine environment outside of their natural range e.g. Northern Pacific sea star.
This likelihood is low given little water is used when translocating abalone.
|Unwanted species translocated in transport water to offshore sites||2||5||7|
Refer above. This risk is higher because the transportation is typically across marine environments to reach aquaculture sites.
The extent of the risk depends on the geographical distance travelled, the species of unwanted pest in question and, the current distribution of the unwanted pest e.g. it may be in one embayment but not another.
|Unwanted species translocated in or on hard surfaces (such as in gut, attached to shell or settlement plates) to land-based sites.||1||5||6||May arise when transporting abalone seed on plates or larger abalone. This includes mudworms or other borers and microscopic spores. Unwanted attached sessile species are generally noticeable and easier to spot and deal with at land-based sites.|
|Unwanted species translocated in or on hard surfaces (such as in gut, attached to shell or culture equipment) to and from offshore sites.||2||5||7||This includes mudworms or other borers and microscopic spores. Important that affective screening / examination is undertaken.|
|Non-endemic species mixed with endemic larvae/spat from interstate hatchery will result in established new populations (need to escape also).||1-2||4||5-6||This is relevant only to hatcheries holding other shellfish stock that are non-endemic to Victoria. Likelihood of cross contamination is low and easily managed.|
Appendix I. Functional groups for marine pests
Key unwanted species divided into functional groups. Modified from the functional group list developed for the Australia and New Zealand marine pest-monitoring manual: draft version 1. X = present in the functional group. Water (W) = Water transported in association with abalone adults (i.e. with closed shells), spat and associated gear. Sediment (S) = Soft substrate e.g. sand, Hard Surface (H) = hard substrate such as the gear (ropes, anchors) and themselves.
|Key unwanted species||Functional group||Medium Water (W), Sediment (S), Hard Surfaces (H)|
|Sessile Fouling (Hard)||Sessile Infauna (Soft)||Motile (soft)||Motile (hard)||Meroplanktonic||Holoplanktonic|
|Alexandrium minutum1 (toxic dinoflagellate)||X||X||W, S|
|Asterias amurensis2 (North Pacific seastar)||X||X||X||X||W, H|
|Vancorbula gibba2 (European clam)||X||X||W, S|
|Crassostrea gigas2 (Pacific oyster)||X||X||X||W, S, H|
|Gymnodinium catenatum1 (toxic dinoflagellate)||X||X||W, S|
|Mnemiopsis leidyi (sea walnut)||X||W|
|Potamocorbula amurensis1 (Asian clam)||X||X||W, S|
|Sabella spallanzanii2 (giant fanworm)||X||X||X||W, S, H|
|Undaria pinnatifida2 (Japanese seaweed)||X||?||X||W, H|
|Carcinus maenas2 (European shore crab)||X||X||X||W, H|
|Musculista senhousia2 (bag abalone)||X||X||X||W, S, H|
1 - Species with cysts can be transported in sediments. 2 - If the species has a broadcast spawning stage (meroplanktonic) or water borne stage, then water was considered a safe medium for its translocation
The above list is not a full list of unwanted marine species. A more comprehensive and updated list of undesirable marine pests can be found at http://www.marine.csiro.au/crimp/.
1 Genetically modified abalone are not currently allowed in Victoria.
2 Minimum harvest size limit in Victoria is 100 mm in PPB, 110 mm from Lakes Entrance to Lorne and 120 mm outside these areas. Minimum harvest size limit for greenlip abalone is 130mm other than PPB where there is a permanent ban.
3 Na, not applicable.
4 Reef codes are geographically defined commercial abalone fishing areas available from DEPI.
5 Significant mortality is stock losses (per culture unit) in excess of 1.0% per day.
6 Approved veterinarian is a qualified and experienced aquatic health veterinarian approved by DEPI.
7 Records will include the number (and species) of abalone held in each culture vessel, stocking rates, mortalities, incidence of significant stressors and other fish health observations.
8 Unfortunately, for most tests, sensitivity and specificity data are not published, and the use of defaults (100% sensitivity and 100% specificity) is recommended. This testing regime would not rule out that the disease is present at a lower prevalence; if testing for lower assumed prevalence is required, sample numbers will go up. Likewise, if a higher level of confidence is required based on the pathological examination alone, then more samples would need to be taken.
9 Disinfection methods listed in the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals 2006.