Aquatic Sciences

SARDI Aquatic Sciences helps deliver the sustainable growth of South Australian aquaculture industries and protects our fisheriesÂ' resources and their environments by the application of innovative science.

SARDI Aquatic Sciences core skills include aquaculture nutrition, genetics and propagation, micro-algal production, marine and freshwater ecological research, environmental assessment, oceanography, aquatic biosecurity and fisheries biology, assessment and modelling.

Staff are located at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre at West Beach, the Lincoln Marine Science Centre at Port Lincoln, and at SARDIÂ's Mt Gambier research facility.

Major science program areas (SPAs) are Aquaculture, Inland Waters & Catchment Ecology, Marine Ecosystems and Fisheries. Needs and opportunities for seafood value-adding, safety and market access are actively pursued through SARDIÂ's Food Safety and Innovation science program dedicated to SAÂ's food industries.

The organisation of the Aquatic Sciences Division, including program and subprogram leaders is given in the

Science Program Areas


The Aquaculture Science Program Area provides scientific and technical advice across government, industry and the community on the sustainable development and management of aquaculture in brackish, freshwater and marine environments. Nutrition and feed technology facilities exist for aquatic research, including the Australasian Experimental Stockfeed Extrusion Centre, a pelleting mill, an analytical nutrition laboratory, and indoor and outdoor aquaria and tank facilities.

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 aquaculturalists may experience.

The Aquaculture Science Program Area currently focuses its research through five interacting subprograms:

  • Algal Production Group
  • Aquatic Animal Health
  • Genetics, Reproduction and Biotechnology
  • National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Photobioreactor Facility
  • Nutrition and Feed Technology
  • Propagation and Systems

More about Aquaculture

Inland Waters and Catchment Ecology

The Inland Waters and Catchment Ecology Science Program Area undertakes research and development activities and provides scientific and technical advice across government, industry and the community about key issues in the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater dependent systems including native fish resources and habitats. These include developing our understanding of ecosystem processes, ecology and population dynamics of the freshwater and estuarine fishes, molluscs and crustaceans and their environment, and ecology of freshwater and riparian vegetation.

Work is conducted in four subprograms:

  • Climate and Catchment Ecology
  • Fish Ecology
  • Invasive Species
  • Plant Ecology

More about Inland Waters and Catchment Ecology

Marine Ecosystems

The Marine Ecosystems Science Program Area undertakes a wide range of research activities, including habitat mapping, environmental impact assessment, effects of trawling, seagrass ecology, ecophysiology and rehabilitation, reef health assessments, the ecology and management of human impacts on species including marine mammals, seabirds and sharks, performance assessment of marine parks, ecological modelling and marine pests. The program provides advice to government on the management of a range of marine environmental issues, particularly marine pests and threatened, endangered and protected species (TEPS), and conducts commercial EIS work for a variety of clients.

The current subprograms are:

  • Aquaculture Environment
  • Benthic Ecology
  • Environmental Assessment, Mitigation and Rehabilitation
  • Marine Pests
  • Oceanography
  • Threatened, Endangered and Protected Species 

More about Marine Ecosystems

Food Safety and Innovation

Opportunities for product integrity and value-adding are rapidly expanding across the seafood industry. SARDI's Food Safety and Innovation science program carry out research on issues associated with husbandry, harvest and post-harvest handling, product development, seafood safety and market access opportunities for the range of aquatic species.

More about Food Safety and Innovation


The Fisheries Science Program Area undertakes research and development activities on the fisheries and habitats of the South Australian continental shelf and gulfs for the South Australian government on behalf of all stakeholders in those fisheries Â- principally abalone, rock lobster, marine scale and pelagic fishes.

The Fisheries SPA undertakes stock assessments and carries out biological and ecological research to meet the information needs of managers charged with the responsibility for managing sustainable exploitation and equitable allocation of these fisheriesÂ' resources.

The SPA also undertakes externally funded contract research directly for industry and other funding bodies, such as the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR), fisheries management agencies in other jurisdictions.

The current subprograms are:

  • Finfish Fisheries,
  • Fisheries Modelling
  • Inshore Crustacean Fisheries,
  • Molluscan Fisheries, and
  • Offshore Crustacean Fisheries.

More about Fisheries

Research Infrastructure

  • The South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre (SAASC) is a purpose-built marine and freshwater research laboratory complex located at West Beach, near Adelaide. With 87 research and technical staff, 18 support staff and 40 postgraduate positions, it is one of the most comprehensive research facilities of its kind in Australia.
  • The Lincoln Marine Science Centre at Port Lincoln on South AustraliaÂ's Eyre Peninsula, focuses primarily on research associated with the fishing and aquaculture industries.
  • A facility at Mt Gambier supports research on the rock lobster and abalone industries.
  • Field activities are facilitated by the 25 metre MRV Ngerin and a fleet of small boats.
  • The Australasian Experimental Stockfeed Extrusion Centre (AESEC) is based at the University of AdelaideÂ's Roseworthy campus.
  • The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) Photobioreactor Facility based at SAASC aims to produce biomass from microalgae at pilot and commercial scales for biodiesel production.
  • The Southern Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (SAIMOS), in a collaboration between SARDI and Flinders University, is implementing an observing system consisting of shelf moorings, ship based surveys, ocean gliders, autonomous underwater vehicles and HF radar, to collect data on ocean circulation systems and the ecosystems that underpin our valuable fisheries, and potential climate change impacts on our oceans and fisheries.

More about Aquatics Sciences Research Facilities.

Capability Profiles

A capability index detailing information about programs, subprograms, program leaders, subprogram leaders, senior scientists and senior research officers.

More about the Capability Profiles.


Prof Gavin Begg
Research Chief, Aquatic Sciences
PO Box 120 Henley Beach SA 5022

Tel: (08) 8207 5482
Fax: (08) 8207 5406