Tropical Rock Lobsters

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Image: AIMS

With global demand for lobster growing there is increasing concern that wild fisheries cannot meet demand. In Northern Australia, the fishery is dominated by the Tropical Rock Lobster, Panulirus ornatus . This species provides a valuable export industry for the Torres Strait and northern section of the Great Barrier Reef. However the potential for sustainable growth in the wild caught industry is limited.

Aquaculture provides the best opportunity to enhance lobster production to meet future demand. Research to close the life cycle of rock lobsters in captivity has been conducted in Japan for more than 30 years, but commercial success has been elusive.

The technological barrier to sustainable aquaculture of lobsters is their very long and complex larval life (up to six months and 11 stages in the tropical lobster) and their high larval mortality under current culture practices.

AIMS is part of a consortium assembled by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and others to tackle the many problems in producing captive reared lobster seedstock, with research following similar pathways to that of the successful for tropical prawn aquaculture.

In the past three years, AIMS has made continuous improvements in larval survival through better control of microbial diseases in the culture systems and studying the nutritional requirements of lobster larvae by examining a range of their natural diets.

Waypoint News – Microbe discovery – a major step forward for tropical rock lobster aquaculture