Towards the development of a protocol for rearing juvenile rock lobster, Jasus lalandii

by Esterhuizen, J.A.

Abstract (Summary)
The diversification of current aquaculture practise in South Africa is crucial for the future development of the industry. The rock lobster, Jasus lalandii has been identified as a possible candidate species for shore based culture in systems similar to those used for abalone farming. Reduced Total Allowable Catch (TAC's) and an increased minimum legal size were implemented as management strategies to relieve fishing pressure on natural stocks of J. lalandii, and in turn led to increased market demand and a possible niche for farmed lobsters. High puerulus settlement along the Namibian coast, together with other favourable aquaculture attributes, indicate that the commercial grow out of wild harvested juveniles could be feasible. The aim of study was to investigate the feasibility of growing out rock lobsters in shore based systems in Namibia and South Africa. The experimental objectives of the project were to investigate the nutritional requirements, as well as the effect of stocking density and tank design on growth and survival of J. lalandii. The economic viability of shore based rock lobster farming was then evaluated based on the experimental results and typical capital requirements of an abalone farm in South Africa.

Puerulus and early juvenile rock lobsters were collected in Luderitz, Namibia and transported to HIK Abalone Farm in Hermanus, South Africa where they were acclimated in black fibre glass tanks in a flow through system. The pueruli were stocked at 50, 75, 100 and 125/m² and early juveniles at 20, 30, 40 and 50/m² to test the effect of density on growth and survival. A comparative dietary study with both size classes was conducted using a mussel diet (Choromytilus meridionalis and Mytilus galloprovincialis), a commercial shrimp feed diet and a rotational diet comprising both mussels and shrimp feed. Tanks provided with “v-shaped” asbestos hides, PVC hides and no hides were compared to test the effect on growth rate and survival of pueruli. All treatments were conducted in triplicate. Temperatures were recorded twice daily while water quality parameters were tested every second week.

The results indicate that density had a significant effect on growth and survival on post-pueruli. An initial stocking density of 75 post-pueruli/m² is regarded as optimal both in terms of the growth rate and biomass production per tank. No differences in growth and survival rates were attained in the early juvenile size class. This indicates that higher densities can be used to rear juvenile J. lalandii.

No significant differences were obtained in growth rate when reared under different hide conditions although asbestos hides yielded significantly higher survival rates (93.3 %) compared to the tanks provided with PVC hides (74.04 %) and no hides (77.8 %, p?0.05). As a result of the high survival rate observed in tanks provided with “V-shaped” asbestos hides, these tanks also yielded higher biomass production per tank (297.8 grams) compared to the tanks provided with PVC hides and no hides (261.09 and 260.5 grams respectively).

In the diet trials, growth rates of post pueruli and juvenile lobsters fed the mussel and rotational (mussel and shrimp feed) diets did not differ significantly, however, growth rates of lobsters fed the shrimp feed only diet was significantly lower than both the mussel and rotational diets (p?0.05). Lobsters fed the mussel diet yielded significantly higher survival rates compared to lobsters fed either the rotational diet or shrimp feed diet only. An imbalance in the fatty acid profile of the shrimp feed could have been a major contributing factor to the poor growth and survival in lobsters fed the shrimp feed only diet as the level of linoleic acid (LOA) was exceptionally high resulting in a high (n -6):(n-3) ratio (1.01) compared to the mussel and rotational diets (0.17 and 0.56 respectively). The low level of arachidonic acid (ARA) in the shrimp feed diet could be a further contributing factor explaning for the poor growth and survival of juvenile rock lobsters.

An economic feasibility study was conducted at the end of the experimental phase by modelling a hypothetical shore based rock lobster farm. A projection of production costs and revenues was based on the typical costs of a shore based abalone farm and the current market prices for wild harvested J. lalandii. The economic viability was evaluated using benefit-cost ratios, payback period, internal rate of return and breakeven analysis. Sensitivity analyses revealed that the projected lobster growth and survival rates were the main biological factors influencing the economic feasibility of the hypothetical rock lobster farm. An assumed four year grow out period at a low stocking density yielded more lucrative internal rate of return (IRR), benefit-cost ratio, payback period and net present values (NPV) than a five year grow out period at a high density. The four year grow out scenario proved to be more robust to the fluctuating Rand/US$ exchange rate and could accommodate a lower lobster survival rate. Results presented in this study indicate that rock lobster farming is a marginal commercial prospect based on current production performance and costs. Further research to develop effective puerulus collection techniques as well as to make lobster grow out technology more cost effective is required.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:ichthyology fisheries science


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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