Sea cucumber health and biosecurity for aquaculture development

  • 138 pages

  • Published: 18 Jun 2024

  • Author(s): Roger Chong, Anu Kumar, Luke Turner, Kitman Dyrting

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-498-1

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Globally, there are more than 70 species of exploited sea cucumber mainly from the genera Holothuria, Actinopyga, Bohadschia, Stichopus and Thelenota. Well-dried A-grade product (bêche-de-mer) can achieve up to US$70-190/kg depending on the species, size and quality; H. scabra, H. fuscogilva and H. nobilis are among the highest-value species. The current overseas farmgate value of sea cucumber is estimated at US$4.44 billion/200,000 tonnes, with an increasing trend expected.

Despite the global economic potential for sea cucumber aquaculture, Australia is yet to significantly capitalise on this opportunity. Australian sea cucumber production is in its infancy, with annual wild catches of less than 400 tonnes. There are significant barriers for the local industry to overcome if Australian production of farmed H. scabra is to achieve the production economies of scale to compete effectively in the world market.

This project provides a baseline study of the biosecurity and health risks to sea cucumber farming and ranching in Australia. The study aims to address a primary barrier for all aquaculture species and businesses globally – pathogens, diseases and environmental stressors. The work highlights the need for biosecurity with respect to translocation of disease agents and pests in wild fisheries management of sea cucumber in northern Australia. Through enhancing sea cucumber health, the project supports a sustainable increase in the production volume of Australian sea cucumbers. The major deliverables of this project are two reference books:

Book 1 – Sea Cucumber Health and Biosecurity: Hatchery and Nursery Guide

Book 2 – Sea Cucumber Health and Biosecurity: Ranching and Grow-Out Guide

These texts cover a comprehensive body of critically reviewed global information on infectious diseases and environmental hazards that must be properly managed as the Australian industry develops. The books contain important research learnings from the global experience with health and biosecurity risks of sea cucumber species, which can be adapted into practical measures and optimal protocols for the Australian industry.

Additionally, by partnering with a sea cucumber business in northern Australia, this project addressed several key areas of need relating to the management of sea cucumber health and biosecurity. These include the development of a protocol to investigate sea cucumber health risks in hatchery and nursery stocks; monitoring of the health of sea cucumber broodstock, spawned larvae and juveniles; the development of a protocol to assess environmental quality, including water quality; provision of current knowledge on infectious and non-infectious disease risks for sea cucumbers; and identification of health and biosecurity measures that lower disease risks and improve industry practices.