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The effects of pre-harvest stress and harvest method on the stress response, rigor onset, muscle pH and drip loss in barramundi (Lates calcarifer)


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Wilkinson, RJ, Paton, NR and Porter, MJR 2008 , 'The effects of pre-harvest stress and harvest method on the stress response, rigor onset, muscle pH and drip loss in barramundi (Lates calcarifer)' , Aquaculture, vol. 282, no. 1-4 , pp. 26-32 , doi: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2008.05.032.

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Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) farming is a significant sector of the Australian aquaculture industry with
production technology rivalling that found in the salmonid or kingfish species. It is evident however that one
area of production, the final harvest stage, still has room for improvement to maintain the optimum quality
of the farmed domestic product. There is considerable literature that suggests harvest methods involving
stress and excessive exercise contribute significantly to final flesh quality in fish.
In this study the effect of harvest method on the final flesh quality was evaluated in barramundi. Harvest size
barramundi were exposed to either a rested harvest technique (utilising the aquatic anaesthetic AQUI-S), or
an alternative technique which aimed to simulate the harvest conditions commonly observed on Australian
barramundi farms (involving air exposure and exercise prior to slaughter). Results show that time to full rigor
onset was significantly delayed (12 h) in rested fish compared to the simulated harvest treatment (3 h). Flesh
pH was also significantly higher and remained this way until 18 h post-harvest in rested fish. There was no
difference in drip loss from flesh samples obtained from each of the two harvest methods over 4 days storage
at 2–4 °C. Furthermore, in additional barramundi exposed to the simulated conventional harvest technique
and not killed, but allowed to recover, significant elevations in plasma cortisol, glucose and lactate were
To our knowledge, this investigation presents the first information on the stress response and the effects of
stress at harvest on flesh quality in barramundi. These preliminary results validate the use of rested harvest
as an alternative method of improving barramundi quality and thereby further differentiating Australian
product from foreign imports.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Wilkinson, RJ and Paton, NR and Porter, MJR
Keywords: Barramundi; Flesh quality; Rested harvest; Stress
Journal or Publication Title: Aquaculture
ISSN: 0044-8486
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2008.05.032
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