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Abstract

The western Atlantic spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is the largest and the most widely distributed Caribbean lobster. Because of the high consumer demand and high price consumer's are willing to pay for lobster, scientists are exploring ways to raise lobsters in captivity. One approach to producing lobsters is full scale mariculture where lobsters are raised throughout their entire life cycle in captivity. Although researchers have successfully mated and spawned spiny lobsters in captivity, they have found it difficult to rear the larvae because of their long and complex larval life. Another approach is to collect the first lobster settlement stage, the puerulus, from the wild. The transparent pueruli settle in shallow water natural habitats such as mangroves and on artificial habitats, called Witham collectors. In the U.S. Virgin Islands pueruli settlement occurs all year round with seasonal settlement peaks. The collection of pueruli is a cheapcr, easier, and faster technique to establish a lobster mariculture operation than developing and maintaining a breeding stock and raising larvae to settlement stage. Interest in lobster mariculture is likely to continue to increase as the human population increases and as diet-conscious people increase their sea food consumption. Maximum sustainable yields for lobster fishing in many islands have already been exceeded and more effort is being spent on techniques to make lobster mariculture profitable.

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