Australian Bay Lobster Producers | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2021
The Australian Bay Lobster Producers (ABLP) journey started many years ago when Managing Director Michael Dalton founded Australian Fresh Corporation (AFC) and exported Australian horticultural and seafood products for over two decades. Recognising the inherent difficulties of continuously supplying standardised wild-caught product, AFC became interested in seafood production and began the search for a high-value product with strong market potential suitable for aquaculture.
Crustaceans were identified as a potential option, but the complex lifecycle took around five years to fully understand. Years of R&D, improvement and expenditure followed, culminating in patent protection on IP relating to commercial-scale cultivation of a lobster species in a controlled environment. ABLP was established to globally commercialise the proprietary process for breeding and producing Bay Lobster Thenus spp., commonly known as Moreton Bay Bugs.
The company has a mission to be a market- driven, biotechnology-based manufacturer that seeks to overcome the depletion of natural fishery resources through innovation. In pursuit of this aim, it developed plans for a highly controlled, land-based recirculating aquaculture production facility, located about 7 km inland from the coast in far north NSW. The plant incorporates a 1.7 ha glasshouse structure housing over 2.6 km of production raceways and state-of-the-art filtration and pump systems, with plans to substantially expand the footprint as production capability demand increases.
The business has four key inputs: water, animals, feed and labour. Feed stock needs for Bay Lobsters differ throughout the lifecycle, mussels are common to both the larvae and grow-out stages. ABLP utilises sustainably farmed mussels, avoiding the need to use wild-caught stocks, but determined that a better solution could be found. A successful FIAL funding application allowed ABLP to undertake extensive research into the development of a suitable feed alternative which will be used to either fully replace or supplement the use of mussels.