Farmed

Murray cod

Maccullochella peelii

Common Name(s)

English: cod, greenfish, goodoo, Mary River cod, Murray perch, ponde, pondi, Queensland freshwater cod

Low

Farms are certified to a third-party aquaculture standard OR farming activities are intrinsically low impact (e.g. rope cultivation of filter feeding shellfish).

Traditional Chinese

墨瑞鱈, 'Muk Sui Suet'

Simplified Chinese

虫纹鳕鲈 / 虫纹麦鳕鲈 / 澳洲龙纹斑

Date of Assessments

August 2020

Peer Reviewer

Dr Brett Ingram, Victorian Fisheries Authority

Assessment Organisation

RS Standards

SEASONAL AVAILABILITY

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D

Overview

  • Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) also known as the Australian bass, is a freshwater perch species endemic to Australia and one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.
  • Overfishing and habitat destruction led to severe declines in Murray cod wild populations and the species is now protected under national law. Hatchery techniques were originally developed in the 1970s to support stock enhancement programs in Australia, which continue today, but there is now an expanding market for human consumption of Murray Cod.
  • According to the FAO, Australia is the only country to have produced Murray cod through aquaculture. While official OECD statistics report just 166 tons of Murray Cod aquaculture production coming from Australia in 2018, more recent figures from the producers and government show much higher levels of production, with 500 tons produced in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
  • The government is encouraging commercial production and demand is increasing across Australia and Asia. One farm, Aquna Bass, supplies Murray cod to the United States, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.
  • Murray cod, by its nature being a large, aggressive, carnivorous, territorial species, would traditionally not be considered as an ideal aquaculture species. However, Murray cod has a number of attributes that make it suitable for aquaculture. These include:
    • Breeds easily in captivity
    • Readily accepts artificial feeds
    • High rate of growth and production in aquaculture (2-600 grams in 6-14 months at 20-25°C)
    • Reaches market size before maturing
    • Hardy and adaptable to crowding (routinely cultured at 80-100 kg/m³)
  • The Victorian Fisheries Department has been at the forefront of Murray cod aquaculture research for many years.
  • There are two key producers of Murray Cod in Australia; Aquna Bass, and Marianvale Blue. While there are a number of other producers in operation, these two are the only Murray Cod farms supplying the export market; the other, smaller farms support the domestic market.

Recirculating Aquaculture System

Recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology is a relatively new system but holds promise, particularly for raising finfish. The system is made up of land-based tanks with water filtering technology that enables the facility to operate in a closed loop. The only outputs are filtered water and waste, though some systems are able to collect fish/feed waste and use as fertilizer elsewhere, further improving the sustainability of this system. Due to its technology and energy requirements, RAS has high upfront costs, but is increasingly being implemented by new companies. Several producers in Asia are using RAS to grow giant grouper.

Pond culture - Murray cod

The most common method for farming Murray cod uses earthen ponds for grow-out and land-based tanks for hatchery operations. The freshwater, open air ponds host algae which helps in filtering fish waste as well as producing oxygen for the fish. These systems are also typically nearby to crop land, and the nutrient-rich water from the Murray cod farm is used for irrigation. This strategy of circulating and reusing the water means waste does not build up.

  • The latin species name
  • Evidence of the country of origin, name and location of the farm
  • Evidence that the farm is compliant with national regulations
  • Evidence that production is controlled in a way that minimises impact on the wider marine environment (i.e. there is local planning, water quality testing etc.)
  • Evidence of where the seed originates
  • Evidence that the seed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence of where the feed originates
  • Evidence that the feed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence that the farm does not use any banned medicines / chemicals
  • Evidence that there is a plan / procedure in place to manage animal husbandry

FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

No Known FIP

COUNTRY SPECIFIC RISK ASSESSMENTS

  • Murray cod farming in Australia can be considered to be a low risk.
  • There are two key producer-exporters of Murray Cod in Australia; Aquna Bass, and Marianvale Blue.
  • Production of Murray cod involves land-based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) for hatchery operation, and earthen ponds for grow-out.
  • All aspects of production are carefully controlled; no antibiotic or hormone treatments are used, extruded feed with high conversion rates, processing facilities on site.
  • Water used by the farms is used to irrigate surrounding agriculture land.
  • The Victorian Fisheries Authority has undertaken comprehensive research on all aspects of Murray cod production.