Container Culture Research Project underway

Emily Miles estuary

Emily Miles, from the University of Exeter, has started preparations for her Masters Project looking at container culture for juvenile lobsters. This involves growing the lobsters from stage IV onwards in submerged containers in the sea as opposed to in the hatchery. Once in the water, they will be self-sufficient feeding from the biofouling on the containers, requiring no maintenance/cleaning of the containers and will be better equipped to deal with the environment once they are released.

Emily Miles cagesThe post-larval lobsters are currently growing in the hatchery and will undergo an intermediate phase to acclimatise them to lower sea water temperatures. The containers are already in place at two sites in the Fal estuary and at sea, fouling up (this means the containers will start to get encrusted with algae, barnacles and other organisms that will provide a source of food for the lobsters) before the lobsters are put into individual compartments to prevent them fighting.

This project is going to be really important for us at the hatchery, because the lobsters that are grown on in the sea containers will be compared in terms of diet, health, growth and survival rates, to the control lobsters that will remain in the hatchery for the same period of time and fed by us. If the container culture is successful it could be the way forward for us long term and it would mean that we could grow on lobsters up to a year old thus to a more suitable release size for little economic and maintenance costs, compared to 3 months old that we tend to release at now.

 

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