Transforming Australian Shellfish Production

Delivering real-time, estuary-specific predictive modelling for shellfish farmers to manage and reduce the cost of closures.
Project complete

In Partnership With:

University of Technology Sydney
NSW Department of Primary Industries
WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
NSW Farmers

Transforming Australian Shellfish Production

This project follows on from the success of the ‘NSW Oysters Transformation' project, which proved that real-time temperature and salinity sensors used in regulatory harvest management can lead to cost efficiencies for oyster farmers.  


The Challenge:

As filter feeders, shellfish like oysters and mussels accumulate particles from surrounding waterways. Following high-risk events such as heavy rainfall, harmful algal blooms, or shellfish disease outbreaks in the estuary, regulators like the NSW Food Authority implement precautionary harvest area closures to manage potential food safety risks.

Shellfish farmers in Australia are not currently able to predict the likelihood of a harvest area closure due to these high-risk events. If farmers were aware of an imminent closure, they could take meaningful action such as harvesting early, or moving stock to lower risk areas of their lease to reduce mortality risk.  

The Solution:

This project  will deliver estuary-specific models relating to shellfish growth, disease risk, harmful algal bloom risk, sources of contamination, and other factors influencing industry productivity. The project, led by researchers from The University of Technology Sydney and DPI Aquaculture Research, will continue working with NSW shellfish farmers from the previous project, and expand to include additional estuaries in NSW and WA.  

Each of the models will rely on measurements from real-time sensors developed by ICT International (NSW) and In Situ Marine Optics (WA), which will be deployed across a number of commercial estuaries in both states. The high frequency data collection will allow more accurate modelling of harvest area conditions, which will inform farm management decisions for the shellfish industry in these areas.

These estuary-specific models will be used in two ways:

  1. To inform revised regulatory procedures for the NSW and the WA regulators, which will use the models to determine in real-time whether shellfish are safe for harvest or not and communicate this with growers.  
  1. Integration into existing farm management software currently being used by producers which will send automated alerts to growers when real-time water quality data hits pre-determined thresholds. These alerts can be configured to fall ahead of any expected regulatory closures.

In addition to the project partners, this project is also proudly funded by the NSW Government through the Bushfire Industry Package Sector Development Grants initiative.


Stage One - December 2017 - March 2021

Pelican Point Harvest Area in the Manning River

Lower Honeymoon Bay Harvest Area in Wagonga Inlet

Long Island Harvest Area in Wallis Lake

Goodnight Island Harvest Area in Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers

Pambula Lake Harvest Area - Pambula River

Quibray Bay Harvest Area - Georges River

Cromarty's Bay Harvest Area - Port Stephens

Wonboyn Lake A Harvest Area - Wonboyn River

Wapengo Front Lake Harvest Area - Wapengo Lake

Gogleys Lagood Harvest Area - Camden Haven River

Lower Limeburners Creek Harvest Area - Hastings River

Coba Bay Harvest Area - Hawkesbury River

meet the team

As. Prof. Shauna Murray

Associate Professor at the School of Life Science at the University of Technology Sydney.

Read As. Prof. Murray's profile.

Dr Penelope Ajani

Research Fellow at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney.

Read Dr Ajani's profile.

Anthony Zammit

Manager NSW Shellfish Program at New South Wales Government (DPI NSW)

Hazel Farrell

Shellfish Operations Officer NSW Shellfish Program at New South Wales Government (DPI NSW)

Wayne O'Connor

Senior Principal Research Scientist at New South Wales Government (DPI NSW)


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