Research nets result

Kerry Trayler, recreational fisherman Will Smithwick, Challenger aquaculture research and development director Greg Jenkins, researcher Robert Michael and recreational fisherman Kevin Reid celebrate the release of the first western school prawns into the Swan River.
Kerry Trayler, recreational fisherman Will Smithwick, Challenger aquaculture research and development director Greg Jenkins, researcher Robert Michael and recreational fisherman Kevin Reid celebrate the release of the first western school prawns into the Swan River.

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Swan River Trust principal scientist Kerry Trayler said culturing the western school prawn was the first step in the restocking program and large numbers of juvenile river prawns could be released into the Riverpark in April 2014.

‘This is the first time western school prawns have been cultured anywhere in the world and we have learnt a lot along the way,’ she said.

Dr Trayler said the Challenger Institute research team had to overcome major hurdles, including working with tiny river prawn larvae.

She said the western school prawns were comparatively small and their tiny juveniles were more difficult to culture than other prawn species.

She added that historically, fishing pressure and environmental change had been blamed for the river prawns decline and scientists were keen to determine what was limiting the prawns’ natural recruitment.

‘We hope to answer a question that has baffled West Australians for more than 20 years and discover the key to river prawns survival and growth for future generations of fishers,’ she said.

Director of the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Centre Challenger Institute of Technology Greg Jenkins said the next step would be to scale up production.