Coral aquaculture is a rapidly growing sector for restoration initiatives and the marine aquarium trade. Until recently the global aquarium trade has relied heavily on wild collection and export of live coral from nations surrounded by tropical coral reefs. However, the fishery has come under increased scrutiny as concerns rise for coral reefs under current and projected climate scenarios, frequent bleaching events, and severe weather events. Unreliable collection data has also contributed to rising uncertainty over the suitability and sustainability of current catch quotas for coral across Australian tropical reefs.
As government backed initiatives to better manage, restore and rehabilitate tropical coral reefs gain momentum, there are increasing opportunities for coral fishery operators to adapt and collaborate on large-scale coral aquaculture programs.
Monsoon Aquatics (MA) has been scaling up land-based coral aquaculture via asexual propagation (‘fragging’), and recently through coral spawning, to meet the demand of the aquarium trade, but also to increase capacity for future large-scale reef rehabilitation initiatives. MA has successfully implemented a fragging program that produces > 2000 corals frags weekly of 60 different species (Fig. 1). Since the start of the coral spawning program in 2022, MA has successfully spawned 6 species (Table 1), including a world-first in captive spawning and settlement of the ‘scoly’, Homophyllia australis (Fig. 2), from gravid wild-caught stock. This has given MA key insight into spawning activity, larval rearing, settlement and growout of these coral species leading to a scale-up of current land-based coral spawning operations. MA has identified key challenges to address for future work:
Broodstock conditioning and spawning induction:
Maximising settlement success:
Increasing survival and growth of spat