World Aquaculture 2023

May 29 - June 1, 2023

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia


Jennifer Blair*, Scott Parkinson, John Breen, Sandra Infante-Villamil, Tony Barton, Steven Gill, Quinn P. Fitzgibbon, Chris G. Carter, Andrew J. Trotter, Basseer M. Codabaccus, Greg G. Smith.


Ornatas Pty Ltd,

Townsville Queensland 4818, Australia.



Successful production of spiny lobsters in hatcheries required decades of aquaculture research. Hatchery technology for the tropical rock lobster Panulirus ornatus developed by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania has been commercialised by Ornatas. The vision to establish a new tropical rock lobster aquaculture industry in northern Australia, founded on hatchery-produced juveniles, has been driving investment by Ornatas in commercial scale systems, operations, ongoing research, and building the capabilities of our talented team.

Together with university and business partners Ornatas is investigating technical and biological challenges at the nursery and grow-out stages. These challenges include developing a commercial feed and minimising cannibalism in juveniles. Nutrition and nursery systems form core components of science in the Australian Research Council, ‘Industrial Transformation Research Hub – Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture’. The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) and Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) are supporting research to provide an improved understanding of grow-out production systems, biosecurity requirements, feeding strategies and growth to produce market-ready, premium lobster product, through the project ‘Pioneering Tropical Rock Lobster Raft Grow-out for Northern Australia’. 

The tropical rock lobster hatchery in North Queensland has been fully operational since the end of 2021 and is consistently producing 1000s of puerulus and first stage juveniles. Ornatas’ newly commissioned nursery has the capacity to produce 100,000 lobsters p.a. for the grow-out operation. Company activity in 2023-2024 will be focussed on the expansion of our pilot grow-out facilities to support a commercial farming scale of 50 tonnes p.a. initially and then scaling up proven systems. To meet production targets, the company projects our current staff of 30 will increase to 120 people will by 2032. For a new aquaculture industry, the composition of the team requires different technical and scientific backgrounds at a variety of qualification levels, with lobster-specific training provided ‘in-house’. The growth of this new aquaculture industry is dependent upon strong partnerships, infrastructure investment, sustainable practices, and equipping our people to innovate.