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Family busness breaking into Crayfish industry

A family business is breaking new ground in the national crayfish industry through microbiology. Townsville's 'Australian Crayfish Hatchery' is now fully operational and one of a kind.Download the 7 News app:

Posted by 7 News Townsville on Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Announcing ACH’s First Commercial Delivery of Redclaw Craylings

Announcing ACH’s First Commercial Delivery of Redclaw Craylings

Announcing ACH's First Commercial Delivery of Redclaw Craylings

ACH is happy to report the delivery of its first commercial batch of redclaw craylings to an Australian production farm.

The farmer reported that the craylings arrived in excellent condition with no mortalities and he is confident that he will achieve an outstanding crop. This is a first step in our journey for a brighter, healthier, and more profitable future for the redclaw crayfish industry in Australia. In less than 12 months these redclaw crayfish will be featuring in some of Australia’s—and hopefully the world’s—most prestigious restaurants.

ACH's delivery of its first commercial batch of redclaw crayfish

Greg—visibly delighted—is packaging ACH’s first commercial batch to an Australian farmer. Thumps Up Greg!

Next, ACH had its first unscheduled challenge on Sunday, 12 February 2017. Due to repairs and maintenance of the water supply in the surrounding area of Mount St John, the ACH hatchery was without incoming water for more than eight hours. It is worthy of note that in most hatchery situations this would have been at best very problematic and at worst a catastrophe.

However, due to the unique design of the ACH hatchery facility, ACH were able to continue operations without incoming water for several days without compromising its production. Cheers to that!

Redclaw crayfish hatchery opens in Townsville

Redclaw crayfish hatchery opens in Townsville

CHRISTIE ANDERSON, Townsville Bulletin
January 18, 2017 8:49am

A COMMERCIAL redclaw hatchery that could revolutionise the farming of freshwater crayfish has opened in Townsville.

The hatchery has been set up in a 553sq m warehouse at Mount St John after its owners searched for months for a suitable location to house the groundbreaking operation.

The hatchery is in its own climate-controlled building within the warehouse, with a lab attached used for water quality and disease testing.

Australian Crayfish Hatchery managing director Dr Lisa Elliott said the industry had encountered problems with producing red-claw crayfish hatchlings in commercial quantities.

“There is nothing else like it in the world and certainly not on a commercial level,” Dr Elliott said.

“We really are paving the way.

“We’re hoping to make an impact on the redclaw industry here in Australia by offering them (farmers) a new way of stocking their ponds.

“There is huge potential for export and it will certainly assist with the growth of the industry here in Australia.

“The current stocking method is so unpredictable and you don’t know how many animals you have in ponds.

“I think we will see more farms start up and some farms that have already started will expand.”

After securing the 553sq m warehouse on a two-year lease with a three-year option, Dr Elliott and her team moved in on November 14.

Ray White Commercial agent Troy Townsend said Dr Elliott had specific requirements which made it difficult to find a suitable location while some landlords were also wary about leasing a space for aquaculture purposes.

“They inspected 25 properties with me,” he said. “They wanted a very clean and modern facility and because it is such an unusual style of business, some of the landlords were wary. They found a good property at a fair price and the property they leased had been empty for several years due to the high vacancy rate.”

Dr Elliott said after living in Townsville for 20 years she knew she wanted the hatchery based in the region.

“Townsville has the airport, rail and road so we have good infrastructure to get our product where we need to get it to,” she said.

“We could have moved to Brisbane which would have been better for export but our eggs come from the Tablelands.

“It made sense for us to stay in Townsville and we love it here.”

Redclaw Crayfish Aquaculture Down Under

Redclaw Crayfish Aquaculture Down Under

Redclaw crayfish aquaculture in Australia has been recognized as a new and developing animal Industry by the Rural Industries Research and Development Committee (RIRDC) and more than eight years of research has been funded by the organization to assist with industry growth.

The major constraint to the growth of the redclaw industry is a reliable supply of adult redclaw at specific market size. This is directly related to the inability to mass-produce seed stock for commercial production farms i.e. pond production is limited by stocking densities of seed stock. This could only be achieved by the development of a hatchery facility and larval rearing technologies.

In 2005, a Finnish designed incubator system intended for the conservation of the European crayfish (Asticus sp.) was imported by Colin Valverde (AquaVerde Redclaw Farm).

It was hypothesized that this crayfish incubation technology, combined with the high fecundity of redclaw crayfish, could be used to develop a highly controlled redclaw hatchery system.

It was quickly realized that the European incubator system was unsuitable for the tropical redclaw crayfish. Extensive modifications spanning several years were undertaken by AquaVerde to make it suitable for hatching and rearing of redclaw craylings. This prototype has been used extensively in projects funded by RIRDC such as the Redclaw Selective Breeding Project 2013, producing approximately 1,400,000 S3J craylings for farm stocking trials, hence the term S3J farming. The results from these projects were highly successful and industry recommends that S3J farming using hatchery-reared craylings be adopted as it represents the way of the future for stocking of redclaw grow-out ponds. This system has been successful is showing POC, though it hasn’t proven reliable enough to produce at commercial scale.

In 2013, Dr. Lisa Elliott was contracted to undertake a project to investigate factors limiting the production capability of the AquaVerde system (funded by RIRDC). The overall conclusion of this two-year project was that significant modifications to the POC system and facility design were required and a state-of-the-art (SOTA) hatchery facility was vital to provide craylings at commercial scale.

With the full support of AquaVerde and the Crayfish Farmers Association, Australian Crayfish Hatchery (ACH) was established in early 2016 and a SOTA hatchery facility has been established to bring POC to commercialization. ACH will continue to work in close collaboration with AquaVerde, farmers and industry to support industry growth.

ACH has established the first commercial state-of-the-art redclaw hatchery by combining:

  • A biosecure modulated facility comprising climate controlled incubation rooms; with
  • Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) – low water usage and waste; and
  • A specialized laboratory onsite to facilitate high level monitoring of water quality and health status;
  • Using innovative hatching, larval rearing and disease management methods including novel disease prevention and treatment technology.

The combination of this SOTA facility and innovative technologies provides a sustainable, low environmental footprint, seafood production facility that will produce, for the first time at commercial scale, superior genetic quality, specific pathogen free craylings at known age and numbers to production farmers globally.

The impasse is the lack of commercial hatchery-produced seed stock for stocking of production ponds.
The global redclaw industry has reached a pivotal point in its development. The methods for growing and harvesting redclaw are well established. However, current methods for stocking ponds industry fail to offer a consistent supply of market size animals and fails to reach full industry potential. The rate-limiting component for redclaw farming to provide significant commercial and market outcomes is the lack of commercial hatchery-produced seed stock for stocking of production ponds.

What’s wrong with current redclaw crayfish stocking practices?

What’s Wrong with Current Redclaw Crayfish Stocking Practices?

Learn How You Can Benefit from ACH's 'Batch in, Batch out' Solution

Known Inefficiencies with Current Stocking Practices

  • Stocking numbers are dependent on the numbers of berried females, which makes it difficult to predict stocking numbers.
  • Current stocking practices are not conducive to control of genetics, which leads to inbreeding issues.
  • There’s neither control nor accurate information on stocking density, size variations or survival rates, which respectively and  cumulatively  lead to unpredictable production outcomes.
  • Stocking and harvesting are labour intensive and season dependent—because berried females are required to stock new ponds, not to mention that spawning is season dependent.
  • Stocking and harvesting of ponds are linked—ponds must be harvested to stock new ponds, making stocking quite complicated an exercise.
  • Production outcomes are unpredictable—as accurate stocking density is unknown.
Read further to learn the many benefits of ACH’s ‘Batch in, Batch out’ stocking solution.

The ACH Solution

ACH offer a simplified method of stocking and harvesting ponds by providing a “batch-in, batch-out’ method. Farmers simply add a specific number of same age ACH craylings to new ponds without the need for harvesting a pond and sorting harvested animals.

That also means that there is no need for additional ponds to hold juveniles or broodstock, which in turns allows farmers to utilize all ponds for production.

Further Benefits

  • By using ACH craylings and the ‘batch-in, batch-out’ method, inbreeding is absent resulting in stronger, faster growing animals.
  • Reduced size variation at harvest, reducing labour costs and time.
  • Stocking and harvesting of ponds are not linked and can be undertaken at any time.
  • Farmers can accurately predict and monitor production outcomes increasing productivity and profitability.
  • Low labour requirement—Batch-in, batch-out method. No need to sort animals into groups for re-stocking.
  • ACH produces healthy, specific pathogen and antibiotics-free craylings from selectively bred broodstock, that eliminate inbreeding issues altogether.

Call Us Today on +61 408611643 to Learn More

Several ways in which ACH can benefit the Australian economy

Several ways in which ACH can benefit the Australian Economy

The Townsville-based Australian Crayfish Hatchery (ACH) is a small enterprise with big dreams. And while its goals might sound presumptuous to begin with, they aren’t that far from reality. ACH’s main goal is to revolutionize and rationalize the Australian redclaw crayfish industry. And in doing so, it will offer a range of benefits to the Australian economy, primarily through diversification and optimization of land resources, employment, high level of technology transfer, and export. Let’s have a closer look at these four areas:

Diversification and optimization of land resources

Aquaculture can restore value to areas with low agronomic capacity through the construction of ponds and create wealth in poor areas, either through secondary activities (as a complement to others) or as a main activity. In rural populations, aquaculture is often undertaken as a secondary source of income with many agricultural farmers discovering that the integration of aquaculture into their production systems leads to increased land and yield productivity.

The effluent from the aquaculture ponds (high in nutrients) can be used to support a secondary agricultural crop or as a fertilizer on paddocks to support livestock. In developing countries (for example Vietnam), catfish culture represents a significant economically important aquaculture sector. However, continued culture of the same fish species often results in disease outbreaks and loss of production.

Redclaw crayfish can be substituted for catfish every second season using the same ponds and conditions. This often breaks the disease cycle as fish as redclaw do not suffer from the same diseases as catfish and offers the farmer an alternative crop when the market is low for catfish or vice versa.


Redclaw farming is focused primarily on producing premium value species rather than mass production of protein and involves a large number of underpinning activities such as transport, engineering, marketing, education, retailing, processing and R&D. “Further, for each job directly generated by the aquaculture industry, it is estimated that another 2.2 jobs are created upstream and downstream. For every dollar of sales generated, another $1.8 may be earned by related businesses.” (See here)

High-level technology transfer

Over the past 15 years extensive R&D projects (supported by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, RIRDC, James Cook University, and QCFA) have been undertaken to develop technologies and methods for the culture of this species and expansion of the industry at farm production level. More recently, AquaVerde developed a prototype system and methods for the hatching and larval rearing of redclaw in showing proof of concept and the basis for a new and novel production pond stocking method. ACH will further develop and nurture interactions and collaborations between AquaVerde, industry and government sectors filling a niche in the global market. The outcomes to-date place Australia at the forefront of redclaw crayfish farming and enable the transfer of technology to international sectors.


Growing populations and affluence are boosting demand for Australia’s quality seafood. With the establishment of a state-of-the-art hatchery and the production of hatchery reared craylings, export markets for craylings and market-sized redclaw crayfish can be fully utilized, strengthening international trade. Redclaw crayfish aquaculture has been recognized as a New and Developing Animal Industry by RIRDC. While in transit, redclaw crayfish is hardy and will last for long periods out of water if kept moist and cool. This is a great advantage as most redclaw crayfish sold in Queensland is marketed live. The establishment of a state-of-the-art redclaw hatchery offers crucial input into the science and technology of the larval rearing of this emerging aquaculture species and provides supporting technologies and products to production farms. In addition, the reliable supply of hatchery-reared craylings has a direct effect on the ability for this primary production industry to expand on a global scale.