Lobsters are cannibalistic in nature and should therefore be kept separate from each other in captivity. This fact makes it difficult to manually run large scale farming of lobster on land. The LobsterPlant project is focused on developing automated technology for individual monitoring and feeding of lobster in land based systems. This development will make it practically and economically feasible to run large scale farming of European and American lobster.
As harvesting of the natural lobster stock can not sustain the market demand for European lobster, aquaculture is of great interest as an alternative method to increase supply.
Two methods within the field of lobster aquaculture which can contribute to increased supplies of lobster to the market are sea ranching and land based farming to market size. Sea ranching projects release juvenile lobsters to the sea bed for later harvest and are dependant on supplies of juveniles from hatcheries. In land based farming of lobster to market size the entire cycle from hatching to harvest is land based.
The great benefits of on-growing of lobster to market or plate-size on land as opposed to ranching are the possibility of a controlled environment, more rapid growth and a steady and reliable supply to the market. A lobster cultured in a controlled environment on land will grow to market size in approximately 18-24 months compared to a wild lobster which will take approximately 5 years to reach the same size under natural conditions.
Today, no company can provide technology which makes large scale land based production of European and American lobster feasible, both with respect to economical and practical aspects. Several private companies have historically attempted to establish complete lobster production on land without commercial success due to lack of automated methods for large scale production.
Over the last 10-20 years, there have been significant developments in automated technology which we believe now has the potential to allow development of large scale land based farming of lobster. Our project proposes to develop automated feeding and imaging technology as well as cleaning technology for removal of waste in raceways, making is practical and financial feasible to conduct large scale land based farming of lobster to market size as well as for large scale land based production of juveniles for wild stock restoration and sea ranching purposes.
In addition, we intent to develop feed of right stability for the automated feeding technology and determine optimal methods for control of water quality in lobster plants. The SMEs in the project intend to hold IPR and licensing rights, be manufactures and suppliers of the technology to the new market to be created of large scale land based production of lobsters.
The cannibalistic nature of the lobster requires that individual animals are cultured in isolated cubicles. As a result each animal demands individual management on a daily basis. This fact presents a major challenge in terms of the required labour costs once large scale culture is attempted and the economics of such an approach have proved non-viable. With the right automated technology however, manual labour can be reduced to a minimum and successful, profitable large scale farming of European Lobster is a possibility.
In our proposed project we are intending to solve three main technological challenges presently unconquered by state-of-the-art technology for large scale lobster farming;
- Automated Feeding
- Automated Monitoring
- Cleaning of Raceways