Connecting through oysters in the Tropics

August 28, 2019

As part of the Crawford Fund’s NT committee’s efforts to support the next generation of ag researchers, they recently supported Samantha Nowland and Paul Armstrong, from the NT Governments Darwin Aquaculture Centre, to undertake tropical oyster aquaculture training with Malaysian scientists, oyster growers and hatchery producers in Penang.

Samantha was a Crawford Fund conference scholar and student award recipient in 2018 and Paul is a 2019 Conference Scholar. A report on Samantha’s earlier work, supported by the Fund and carried out within an ACIAR project to boost coastal livelihoods was reported by the University of the Sunshine Coast here

“The biggest benefit of the trip was the opportunity to exchange and discuss new ideas. This trip has established relationships between researchers from Australia and Malaysia enabling us to work together and learn from each other’s experiences in hatchery production of native oyster species and oyster farming in tropical conditions.” Samantha said.

Their training in Malaysia included:

  • A tropical oyster research, development and extension workshop at the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS) of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
  • Knowledge exchange visit to an oyster farm in Sungai Merbok and informal discussion with local husband and wife oyster farmers, Pak-su and Mak-su.
  • Sea Harvest Aquamarine hatchery visit and discussions with Managing Director, Mr. Alan Wong, to better understand the challenges facing industry development, particularly hatchery production challenges.
  • Discussions with USM Undergraduate interns about careers in aquaculture and marine science.

“The outcomes of this trip were to share knowledge, have a better understanding of the challenges facing industry development and to build relationships, all of which have a direct benefit for each country’s tropical rock oyster research program,” reported Samantha, who also attended a Crawford Fund Master Class in Research Leadership and Management

She and Paul noted that knowledge was shared both formally, through workshops and presentations, and informally, through discussions and farm visits, to build capacity of both tropical rock oyster industry development projects.

“We gained a better understanding of the challenges facing tropical rock oyster industry development in both Malaysia and Australia. These challenges include hatchery production limitations due to nursery capacity; extension challenges for farms working in remote regions, and issues around access to knowledge because scientific research goes unpublished and production knowledge is often unreported,” reported Samantha.

Samantha remains optimistic and noted that Malaysian oyster farmers have a great vision for the future of their industry.