Creating a Sustainable
Spiny Lobster Aquaculture
Schematic for an array of Labyrinth Reefs surrounding the four sections of the lobster houses.
Schematic of the introduction of a hatchery pod through the hatch at the top of the aquaculture containment section to deliver juvenile lobsters.
Schematic of the tunnel elements (permanent in purple, temporary in orange) to guide young lobsters from one section to the next in the aquaculture progression.
Array of lobster houses that will provide a protected environment for lobsters within the aquaculture containment sections.
Spiny Lobster Over-fishing
The Pacific Spiny Green Lobster (Panulirus Gracilis) population on the West Coast of Central America is in dire straits due to over-fishing for many years without regulation. Nicaraguan lobster fisherman have resorted to unsafe diving practices, going deeper and staying under- water longer to harvest what remains of the spiny lobster population. This is not a sustainable fishery and results in a significant number of injuries and deaths each year. Moving fisherman from wild harvest to sustainable aquaculture at minimal depth will increase the harvest and decrease the danger.
Protected from Damaging Ocean Currents
The aquaculture operations will be surrounded by an envelop of 1,300 lb. artificial reefs that provide two functions, physical protection of the aquaculture operation and restoration of the marine ecosystem.
The aquaculture operation will be bounded by a staggered double line of artificial reefs that are cabled together to form one huge barrier so each exposed side of the aquaculture will be protected from ocean currents by an 18,000 lb. wall.
No-touch Aquaculture Design
The basic principle of the overall design is that the lobsters will never be touched from time the “berried” (egg-carrying) female is put in the hatchery until they are harvested live for market in about 2 years later.
The aquaculture is designed with 4 sequential sections that will be home to lobsters of increasing size with the first section covering one quarter the area of the subsequent 3 sections. The containment mesh will have a supporting structure that is one meter tall on the sides, increasing in height to 3 meters in the middle, with an access hatch at the top that allows divers to enter as well as introduction of a hatchery pod.
Once the phyllosoma (planktonic form) have reached juvenile lobster form (about 8 months) in the hatchery, the entire hatchery pod will be lowered into the first aquaculture section and the ‘doors’ on the hatchery pod will be opened for the young lobsters to escape. Once emptied, the hatchery pod it will be recovered from the aquaculture containment for disposal.
This first section will have a very fine containment mesh so the tiny juveniles can’t escape.
After a few months, the young lobsters will be lured with food through a connecting tunnel into the next section. Once they have moved, the connecting tunnel will be closed and a new hatchery pod will be lowered into the first section to start the process with a new cohort of juveniles.
The growing lobsters will be progressively moved from one section to the next, each of which will have progressively larger containment mesh. After sufficient time in the fourth or last section to grow to market size, they will be harvested live.
The entire sequential grow-out process is expected to take about one year, with 4 cohorts of lobsters at various stages of development in the aquaculture operation.
Lobster House Design
Protected habitat for the lobsters in our aquaculture containment will be provided by a ‘Mexican’ lobster house, a simple concrete structure that has been successfully used for years to increase wild habitat.
This lobster house is 1.1 meter long, 0.55 meters wide and 0.2 meters high.
The advantages of this structure include a simple fabrication method, readily available material, low cost and ease of stacking which can increase the area of protected habitat in the same containment area.
Schematic of an array of lobster houses under the containment cage.