Bigger, better tucker

Seafood aficionados in Australia will soon be able to tuck into bigger and better oysters thanks to a new oyster-growing tray developed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Seafood aficionados in Australia will soon be able to tuck into bigger and better oysters thanks to a new oyster-growing tray developed by CSIRO and Australia’s Co-Operative Research Centre for Aquaculture.

The new tray is built with a smart polymer that stops the growth of organisms that interfere with the food supply needed by growing oysters.

‘The Smart Oyster Tray means higher-grade, meatier oysters, because the young growing oyster is not obstructed from the free flow of nutrient-rich seawater it feeds on,’ said Dr Veronica Cross of CSIRO Novel Materials & Processes.

Dr Cross added: ‘The Smart Oyster Tray also means less work for oyster farmers, who for years have fought off the seaweed and algae growth that has crowded the long-lines and trays suspended from rafts in ‘off-the-bottom’ oyster farming.

‘Fouling is often removed at harvest by hand, by low or high-pressure hoses, or by dipping ‘young’ stock in a solution that kills unwanted organisms, such as barnacles, tubeworms and sponges.’

The new Smart Oyster Tray comes in the form of a traditionally shaped oyster tray, manufactured with specially designed polymers that are said to contain slow-release, harmless biodegradable anti-fouling chemicals.

Dr Cross said, ‘The Smart Oyster Tray is a high-density polyethylene, which contains an environmentally benign anti-fouling chemical agent within the plastic’s molecular structure, which is slowly released over time.

‘The anti-fouling chemical agent is an environmentally safe organic compound as it degrades in seawater in a matter of hours.’

The development of this material is said to have required the identification and selection of a new anti-fouling polymer that is suitable for injection moulding and compatible with the anti-fouling agent. The anti-fouling agent and high-density polyethylene was pre-compounded and processed into trays using standard industrial injection moulders.

‘We have successfully fabricated the material into oyster trays on a commercial scale,’ said Dr Cross.

According to CSIRO, the tray can be used for the culture of edible oysters, pearl oysters, abalone and prawns.

Dr Cross added that CSIRO is currently interested in discussing the development of its technology for commercial use with parties with an interest in the manufacture and marketing of aquaculture products.

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