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CSIRO weather model a boost for aquaculture

Jane Ryan, Tuesday November 26, 2013 - 12:32 EDT

Climate modelling for Australia's oceans is set to be rolled out for use by Australia's aquaculture industries.

The science has already improved yield and profits for Tasmanian fish farmers, and now abalone, prawn, oyster and tuna farmers around Australia are set to benefit.

Linda Sans is the Head of Sustainability at Tasmania's biggest salmon farming company Tassal, and says groundbreaking modelling from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology has changed the way they do business.

"If you're farming fish, it really does matter what the weather is doing," she said.

"Wind, rain and ocean temperatures and conditions have a direct impact on the way our salmon perform."

Research Scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology Dr Claire Spillman has been working over the past few years, to help develop and apply a climate modelling system for Australian oceans.

The model that has been adopted is called POAMA - or Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia.

"The model predicts ocean and atmosphere conditions out to nine months," she said.

"Forecasts are made for whatever you might be looking at, ocean currents and temperature, air temperature - those kind of variables."

Dr Spillman says it is proving extremely useful to Tasmania's fastest growing industry and that the Tasmanian aquaculture industry is leading the way for the rest of Australia.

"The driver has come a lot from the industry," she said.

"They're interested in being more productive, more sustainable and more economically efficient.

"By having an idea of the conditions that will affect their farms, they're able to put plans in place to maximise their production."

Now Dr Spillman is turning her hand to ocean atmosphere modelling and how it could impact on aquaculture around the rest of the country.

"In Queensland we're looking at prawns, scallops, southern blue fin tuna, as well as in South Australia," she said.

"We want to get the word out there that we have these forecasts, that they can be used, and that we need to know what industry needs, so we can then inform them."


© ABC 2013

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