2013/713 Understanding and reducing the risk of paralytic shellfish toxins in Southern Rock Lobster

2013/713 Understanding and reducing the risk of paralytic shellfish toxins in Southern Rock Lobster

By Tom Madigan



Paralytic Shellfish Toxins pose a significant economic risk to the rock lobster industry, the Tasmanian algal bloom in 2012/2013 resulted in losses to the seafood industry in the vicinity of $20million AUD and scientific data is critically needed to assist in minimising losses in future years.


Knowledge on the how rock lobsters accumulate PSTs (e.g. trophic pathway) is crucial to underpin future management strategies, including validating the use of species which may be more readily gathered to indicate risk (e.g. the use of farmed or wild caught mussels). Additionally, there is limited information on the elimination of PSTs from Jasus edwardsii. This data would assist industry in an event where large volumes of product have been harvested and are being held in live-containment facilities, particularly in Australia where animals can be held for several weeks in tanks. Information on persistence in the wild will also underpin decisions on potential re-direction of fishing effort to non contaminated areas.

There is limited data on PSTs in lobster hepatopancreas and the extent of any associated health risk, therefore, maximum permitted PST levels worldwide are based on those used for bivalves. To evaluate this, a risk assessment is needed as it is the key tool mandated by the World Trade Organisation and United Nations to support development of food safety regulations. The risk assessment will provide an estimate of the probability of illness associated with PSTs in rock lobster and an evaluation of an appropriate regulatory limit. The risk assessment will be able to be used to support access into key export markets such as Hong Kong and China and to inform the development of risk management strategies that are proportional to the risk.


Project Objectives

  1. To provide management options for industry to reduce the impacts of algal blooms. These options will potentially include: in-tank elimination conditions, testing of sentinel species to obtain early warning etc
  2. To reduce technical barriers to trade for Australian rock lobsters in key markets through using the risk assessment output of the project to negotiate risk based standards.
  3. To enhance R&D capability on marine biotoxins and market access in Australia.