ANALYSIS - Seasonal forecasting has been used in agriculture for decades and now Australian fish farmers are also able to have more sustainable long term planning through the use of the CSIRO designed seasonal forecasting system, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor, from the Aquaculture 2013 conference, in Gran Canaria, Spain.
Many extreme events have happened in Australia in recent years, such, the marine heat wave in Western Australia in 2011 and the 2011 flooding and cyclones in Queensland, said A. J Hobday, CSIRO, Australia.
These events affected not just fishermen, but also fish farmers. This highlighted a need for seasonal forecasting which could allow fish farmers to plan ahead and prepare for any adverse weather.
In order to give fish farmers more control, CSIRO created the Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA). The system works like a weather forecast, but gives a longer outlook of one to four months.
Having this ability to know what weather conditions are coming can help fish farmers in a variety of ways, such as, knowing when it is best to stock or harvest, labour needs, what equipment to purchase and feed management.
So far, the POAMA system has been used in some of Australia's most valuable aquaculture industries, such as Tasmania's Atlantic salmon, where it gives information on summer water temperatures and on Queensland's prawn farmers where information on rainfall and air temperature is needed.
In order to improve the system, scientists would like to take the POAMA system and combine it with local forecasts, giving even greater detail. Future work on the system also needs to focus on expanding the delivery of the system efficiently, as at present it is only accessible on the internet.
More information on the POAMA system can be found here.