A new automated tool that provides support for sea cage
aquaculture managers in making crucial decisions about locating
their sites and determining the number of fish that can be
sustainably farmed is now available.
A project undertaken by AIMS in collaboration with the
Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and funded by
the Australian Aid Program through the Australian Centre for
International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), has developed a
user-friendly decision support tool available on CD and the
CADS_TOOL (Cage Aquaculture
Decision Support tool) is immediately useful to finfish
aquaculture in South East Asia but is equally useful in
tropical Australia, according to AIMS researcher Dr David
Australia does not yet have a lot of tropical
sea cage fish farming, with only two such farms producing
barramundi in northern Australia, including one near
Cardwell. The major growth area for tropical sea cage
aquaculture is South East Asia.
"Indonesia in particular has a huge need for management
tools in aquaculture development," Dr McKinnon said.
"It is the
largest aquaculture producer in South East Asia and the
industry nearly trebled in size between 1995 and 2000," he
Sea cage aquaculture farm.
Image: Dan Alongi
Indonesian aquaculture mostly produces high value finfish such
as coral trout, which fetch around $90 per kilogram live on the
Hong Kong wholesale market.
To address the huge growth in South East Asian aquaculture, the
AIMS/ACIAR project employed physicist Dr Halmar Halide to develop
a simple yet robust tool that any sea cage aquaculture manager
could access and use.
Dr Halide, who was on secondment to the project for two and a
half years, returned recently to the Physics Department at
Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The tool that he devised assists with site classification and
selection, and determines how many fish can be held at a
To view the tool, go to:
It is planned to also make the package available on CD from
One of the major challenges
associated with growing fish in sea cages is finding the
right place to put the cages. Site selection is the biggest
factor in determining the commercial viability of a sea cage
aquaculture operation, according to Dr McKinnon.
location that has the optimum water quality, water
temperature, oxygen, light and nutrient levels, that is
close to where farm workers live and to markets for the fish
involves a complex range of decisions. CADS_TOOL will
simplify the process for many sea cage aquaculture managers.
The tool allows managers to classify a site, select the
best site from several alternatives, calculate its
sustainable holding density and perform a basic economic
Sea cage aquaculture farm, Hinchinbrook
Image Steve Clarke
"We believe that CADS_TOOL will greatly improve decision making
by sea cage aquaculture managers," Dr McKinnon said. "In a rapidly
expanding industry, this will be a major factor in ensuring both
environmental and economic sustainability."