Oyster racksThe Aquaculture science program provides scientific and technical advice across government, industry and the community on key issues associated with the sustainable development and management of aquaculture in brackish, freshwater and marine environments.


The Aquaculture science program has existed since the inception of SARDI in 1992, and has played an important part in the development of the South Australian aquaculture industry, which has increased in annual farm gate value from $200,000 in 1989 to nearly $208 million in 2006/07. Organisms now farmed commercially in South Australia and on which research and development has been performed include: southern bluefin tuna (SBT), Pacific oysters, greenlip abalone, yellowtail kingfish, barramundi, microalgae, salmon, trout, mulloway, blue mussels, yabbies, marron and a range of aquarium species. These are farmed in the marine environment in sea cages and on longlines and racks, as well as onshore in recirculation systems, in flow-through raceways and tanks, and in static or low flow rate ponds.


The primary objectives of the program are:

  • the development of new technologies, species and sites for aquaculture
  • enhancing the competitive advantage of existing aquaculture industries
  • and minimising the risks that new and existing aquaculturists may experience.

Subprograms/Research Focus

The Aquaculture science program is led by Prof Xiaoxu Li and focuses its research in six interacting areas.  Aquaculture Organisation Chart (.pdf):

Algal Production

The Algal Production subprogram is focused on providing practical and economical solutions associated with the use of Algal Production Systems (APS) for aquaculture, the production of bioenergy and in biosequestration of carbon. The group is committed to delivering to its clients concept design, laboratory testing, proof-of-concept scale trials and pilot commercial scale trials. This is achieved using in-house skills, collaborations and specialised infrastructure. The subprogram is led by Dr Sasi Nayar.

Aquatic Animal Health and Welfare

The Aquatic Animal Health and Welfare subprogram aims to introduce and develop rapid diagnostic techniques to improve disease detection; develop and enhance knowledge and use of biosecurity procedures to reduce risks; to investigate disease issues and understand their epidemiology; develop sustainable solutions to disease issues effecting productivity, operating costs and product quality; and increase awareness of aquatic animal health issues in the SA Aquaculture Industry through communication, in particular through the provision of scientific and technical advice to managers, and participation in education and training. The subprogram is led by Mr Steven Clarke. 

Genetics, Reproduction and Biotechnology

The Genetics, Reproduction and Biotechnology subprogram provides scientific and technical advice on key issues associated with the economically and environmentally sustainable development of shellfish aquaculture. The program is committed to developing and evaluating new and existing techniques to enhance the competitive advantage of aquaculture industries in an international market-place, and minimising the risks that new and existing aquaculturists may encounter. The subprogram is led by Prof Xiaoxu Li.

Nutrition and Feed Technology

The Nutrition and Feed Technology subprogram provides scientific and technical advice on the provision of nutritionally complete and cost effective diets for the optimum productivity, health and product quality of fish and shellfish. The program aims to develop and evaluate existing and new technologies related to diet development and/or feeding strategy; provide emerging industries with the necessary diets and established industry with technologies; and address the industry's diet related productivity, product quality and marketing issues. The subprogram is led by Dr David Stone.

NCRIS Photobioreactor Facility

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Photobioreactor Facility provides world-class infrastructure and expertise to advance Australian research and development into microalgae for biofuel production. The $5 million laboratories and and microalgal culture systems including the photobioreactor and raceway ponds were funded by NCRIS (link to Australian Government website) and completed in October 2009. They are based at the South Australian Research and Development Institute's (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences laboratories at West Beach, Adelaide. The facility provides unique capability for R&D clients including universities and private industry to research microalgal growth using state-of-the-art technology at one central location. The facility is an essential step in taking new biofuel feedstock technologies towards full commercialisation. It is managed by Dr Sasi Nayar.

Propagation and Systems

The Propagation and Systems program conducts R&D activities to support the expansion of aquaculture production in South Australia. This involves research to propagate new species, improve hatchery rearing of marine finfish species and development of sustainable aquaculture production systems. The subprogram is led by Mr Wayne Hutchinson.


Key facilities available to the Aquaculture program for research and development include:

The South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre (SAASC) is home to the SARDI Aquatic Sciences group. The centre provides South Australia with a comprehensive marine and freshwater research capability.

Lincoln Marine Science Centre (LMSC) is a joint project between SARDI Aquatic Sciences, Flinders University (external site), Spencer Institute of TAFE and the Port Lincoln community. The centre has been established to support research and tertiary level education in marine science. 

Roseworthy - South Australian Aquatic Biosecurity Centre.  

For more information on facilities go to Aquatic Sciences Facilities.


The Aquaculture science program has a long history of collaboration with industry, and other government agencies, as well as with researchers in the three South Australian universities.


Within SARDI, the Aquaculture program works closely with SARDI's:


National and International Projects

While the Aquaculture science program focuses on the needs of South Australian clients, it has over the last five years also targeted a number of interstate and overseas projects where these provide direct or indirect flow-on benefits to South Australia. Recent examples include: facilitating a feasibility study of yellowfin tuna aquaculture in Western Australia, enhancing the productivity of freshwater pond aquaculture in northern Vietnam, designing and project managing aspects of the construction of a new government aquaculture research facility in Singapore and enhancing yellowfin tuna propogation and larval rearing in Indonesia.


Prof Xiaoxu Li, Science Leader
Tel: (08) 8207 5464 Fax: (08) 8207 5481
PO Box 120 Henley Beach SA 5022