MARF Research


MARF is James Cook University’s central facility for research and testing in aquaculture, marine biology, and algal studies.

At any one time, the facility supports a diverse portfolio of research projects including projects on various species of fin fish, coral, algae, crustaceans, squid, holothurians, molluscs and bivalves. Projects cover a wide variety of topics including physical effects of micro-plastic ingestion, physiological impacts of ocean acidification, optimisation of aquaculture diets, physiological adaptation and genetic improvement of aquaculture species.

Research within the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture (CSTFA) focuses not only on the aquatic and aquaculture systems that produce food, but also the industries and communities that utilise them. Multidisciplinary collaborations between our researchers provide the synergies to address substantial research problems in a way that individual research groups cannot. The facilities at MARF are important to the delivery of our world-class research, with access to a semi-commercial size barramundi R&D facility, large tank space for semi-commercial trials, and the ability to manipulate environmental parameters for a multitude of species. Projects conducted at MARF include “Understanding the genetic basis of sex change in barramundi”, “Barramundi selective breeding”, and testing of food additives on growth and survival of black tiger shrimp”.

The Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology (MACRO) researches the possibilities of macroalgae for fuel, feed and fertiliser purposes requires large-scale aquatic environments for growing and testing. MARF provides the fully-supported outdoor and undercover facilities vital to around 75% of MACRO’s research and testing activities.

MACRO, using the world class facilities at MARF has successfully developed the integrated production of marine and freshwater macroalgae to bioremediate nutrient waste from aquaculture, agriculture, municipal and industrial sources of waste water. Our research optimises macroalgal biomass production and bioremediation for wastes stream at a scale that is relevant to industry. The overarching goal is to provide a cost-effective option for nutrient bioremediation and a platform for sustainable and commercially viable macroalgal biomass production. Current research projects are focused on the end-product development of the algal biomass that is generated through bioremediation activities. A key area of product development is the creation of liquid biostimulant products for agricultural applications. These algal extracts have been demonstrated to enhance yields, promote health and increase the tolerance to abiotic stressors, such as extreme temperatures and drought stress.

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