And here they are! Ornatas celebrates successfully securing first commercial run of juvenile Tropical Rock Lobsters

 In news, Uncategorized

In June, our team were excited to announce the first juvenile Tropical Rock Lobsters have successfully progressed from our hatchery to our nursery, completing an incredible 6-month process that began over Christmas last year. The lobsters are still going strong and we are very pleased with the progress.

Our hatchery team in Northern Queensland’s Toomulla Beach, watched with excitement as our lobsters successfully completed their complex larval and Puerulus stages to become juveniles. This milestone has been the main goal for our dedicated team who have invested 18 months of hard work, research and management of the delicate conditions required to achieve this step.

“It’s an incredibly exciting milestone for our company, and a testament to the dedicated and innovative aquaculture team we have here at Ornatas. We’re looking at something that not very many people have witnessed, as the result of a long and thorough research journey, from our own partners and other organisations and individuals around the world for many years now. We are moving closer to building this new aquaculture industry, and to do that here in Australia is very exciting” – Scott Parkinson, Ornatas CEO

For Hatchery Manager Anna Overweter, and the Hatchery Team, having Juveniles move on to our nursery brings together years of love for aquaculture and Tropical Rock Lobsters.

“Every day we’re learning, they are a very complex species and really need the right conditions and constant care and monitoring in order to grow.”

“Normally in the wild, only a fraction of the larvae would survive this process from egg to juvenile, either because they become food for predators, or they don’t have the right conditions and access to food to grow and undergo metamorphosis. The larvae are incredibly vulnerable to the elements” – Anna Overweter, Ornatas Hatchery Manager

The juveniles are now in the capable hands of our Nursery Team Leader Lachlan Davison and the Nursery team, Locky and his team’s major focus is looking after the juveniles, including ensuring the right conditions in our systems are maintained for strong and healthy growth.

“The systems have now successfully supported the lobsters in their sensitive larval stages, but there is still a lot of work to do by our Nursery Team! We are continually seeing much higher survival rates as we get more familiar with our lobsters, something we’ll be able to keep on improving as we learn” – Lachlan Davison, Ornatas Nursery Team Leader.

For some of the Ornatas team, this is the first taste of the aquaculture sector, after recently graduating from James Cook University (JCU) and jumping straight into this hands-on and demanding job of raising Tropical Rock Lobsters.

“It’s been very exciting for the entire team, but especially for the ones that have just begun exciting careers in aquaculture. It’s great to see such a passion for this industry particularly from the younger members of the team, and their commitment to making this happen has been outstanding” – Scott Parkinson, Ornatas CEO.

This success ties in with the beginning of two new research projects. A partnership project launched in May, to trial the grow-out of Tropical Rock Lobsters using sea-raft culture under a 4.5-million-dollar project with Maxima The Opportunity Group and other partners across the production through to market chain, funded by the CRC for Developing Northern Australia with additional funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).  A new research hub was also launched in July in Hobart focusing on developing sustainable technology for onshore lobster aquaculture. We are excited about the potential of this transformative research from the ARC Research Hub for Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture.

Jennifer Blair, Ornatas’ Research and Development Manager who is leading the project, is excited to see the company progress to this next stage.

“With Juveniles now progressing through the hatchery and with more on the way, we can now really begin to explore and trial grow-out systems, and that opens up a range of opportunities. We’re looking at both onshore and sea-raft culture systems for grow-out, and that opens up some great potential for the development of a Tropical Rock Lobster industry in Northern Australia” – Jennifer Blair, Ornatas Research and Development Manager.

Over the next few months, the Ornatas team will continue to support the growth of our juvenile stock in preparation for the trial of onshore and sea-raft grow-out systems which are expected to begin at the end of this year.

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