The production and sale of shellfish for human consumption in WA is regulated by the Department of Health (DoH), through implementation of the Western Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (WASQAP). As a result, testing for the presence of biotoxins is a mandatory requirement under the WASQAP. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Department) plays a supporting role in implementation of the program through liaison between shellfish growers and the DoH and other government agencies and coordination of research and development requirements.
Currently, there is no capacity to undertake biotoxin testing in WA using the contemporary method of 'Rapid Biotoxin Test Kits'. This often results in long delays, financial loss and market reduction for current shellfish growers.
The verification and subsequent use of these kits (consistent with DoH requirements) has potential to reduce such losses and assist the growth of shellfish aquaculture industry within WA. This is consistent with the State Government's approach of providing strong support for aquaculture development proposals and notably, the recently completed Albany Shellfish Hatchery which will produce high quality spat for both new and existing shellfish growers. The need for this facility is driven by an increasing demand in edible oyster production across the state.
In addition to the new hatchery facility, government has funded the South Coast Aquaculture Development Zone which will deliver large areas of water that have been granted the necessary environmental and regulatory approvals and deemed suitable for large-scale shellfish aquaculture on the south coast. There is an unprecedented level of growth being experienced in WA for bivalve mollusc aquaculture with two large projects likely to move from trial to approval and production within the next 2-4 years.