Project un­locks lob­ster rear­ing po­ten­tial

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A PI­O­NEER­ING project rear­ing lob­sters in new sea based sys­tems has shown great po­ten­tial.

Led by the Na­tional Lob­ster Hatch­ery (NLH) in Pad­stow, Corn­wall, the three­year ini­tia­tive – named Lob­ster Grower 2 (LG2) – used sea based con­tainer cul­ture sys­tems, which re­quired no feed in­puts.

More than 26,000 lob­sters were de­ployed into cul­ture con­tain­ers in St Austell Bay, and were mon­i­tored to de­ter­mine pro­duc­tion suc­cess.

The scheme, which is now com­plete, ac­cu­mu­lated the world’s largest data set de­tail­ing the de­vel­op­ment of Euro­pean lob­ster ju­ve­niles, with the col­lec­tion of over 48,000 ob­ser­va­tions of sur­vival and 15,300 mea­sure­ments of growth.

It will be in­valu­able to both in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment and fu­ture re­search, said the NLH’s con­sor­tium part­ners who in­clude the Univer­sity of Ex­eter, West­coun­try Mus­sels of Fowey, Ce­fas (the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment, Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Sci­ence), and Fal­mouth Univer­sity.

The con­sor­tium also stud­ied the diet of these early stage lob­sters by ex­am­in­ing the as­sem­blages of or­gan­isms foul­ing the cul­ture con­tain­ers (from which the lob­sters feed off) as well as anal­y­sis of the gut con­tent.

The group said LG2 has un­locked the se­crets to lob­ster aqua­cul­ture by iden­ti­fy­ing the key bar­ri­ers to com­mer­cial re­al­i­sa­tion.

Carly Daniels, prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor of LG2 and head of Pro­duc­tion, Sci­ence and De­vel­op­ment for the NLH, said:‘The pinch points high­lighted through LG2, in­clud­ing the pro­hib­i­tive cost of lob­ster ju­ve­nile seed, gives lob­ster aqua­cul­ture in­no­va­tion a clear di­rec­tion that has trans­fer­able out­comes to im­prov­ing stock en­hance­ment and aqua­cul­ture alike.

‘LG2 has helped make key ad­vances in lob­ster aqua­cul­ture with the vi­sion to mak­ing lob­ster aqua­cul­ture a vi­able ven­ture by 2030. It has also gen­er­ated a wealth of knowl­edge re­lat­ing to the de­vel­op­ment of early life stages in the wild - an area which has baf­fled marine bi­ol­o­gists for years.’

Above: Carly Daniels with the NLH team

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