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May 7, 2014
Geothermal Lobster Farming
In 2000, Norwegian Lobster Farm AS initiated an extensive research and development project on the European lobster (Homarus gammarus) in cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, the International Research Institute of Stavanger and the University of Stavanger.
The research facilities were located on Kvitsøy, an island on the southwestern coast of Norway. The project included work on biology, technology, feed, markets, monitoring of water quality, health management and studies that compared single cages to communal rearing systems. The primary aim of the project was to explore the potential for producing European lobsters in land-based facilities using recirculating seawater.
The project achieved semi-commercial production of two metric tons annually. Due to a lack of private investment and inadequate public funding in Norway, the project never reached commercial production levels, so new initiatives were taken to establish pilot production in artificial seawater in Medina del Campo, one hour’s drive northwest of Madrid, Spain, and in Iceland, which offered geothermal water sources. The Icelandic project has now received grants from the Icelandic Research Council and Nordic Innovation to study the commercialization of land-based recirculating lobster farming.
Compared to other lobsters, the Homarus species are considered very hardy with a simple and abbreviated larval period. They feed readily on natural and artificial feeds, are resistant to disease and exhibit very rapid growth in warmed water. Thus, temperature is the primary controller of growth, with optimum water temperature found to be 20 to 22°C. The larval period in 20°C water is around 12 days, compared to 35 days at ambient temperature.
H. gammarus can reach sizes of 250 to 300 grams (total length 210 millimeters, carapace length 75 mm) in 24 to 30 months as long as constant 20°C water is provided. The difference in growth rate experienced in heated seawater is a result of removing winter growth inhibition and allowing year-round growth and molting.
Because of large growth variations and high losses due to cannibalism and injuries when kept communally, cultured lobsters have to be kept in individual containers. The technology developed by Norwegian Lobster Farm provides each lobster with an individual compartment, a constant supply of oxygen-saturated seawater and methods for providing food and removing solid and dissolved wastes.
Energy represented 10% of the operational costs of a lobster farm, so a cheap geothermal energy source can save a farm a lot of money.
The main aim of Norwegian Lobster Farm’s project in Iceland is to eliminate the biological and technical risk factors before developing commercial, land-based farming of European lobsters. Of special concern are the low survival rates, which can be down to 10%, in the first life stages. On the other hand, anecdotal information has indicated that up to 90% survival can be obtained with the use of high-quality broodstock and farming methodologies.
Source: The Global Aquaculture Advocate (The Global Magazine for Farmed Seafood). Editor, Darryl Jory (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pilot Lobster Production Facility Uses Geothermal Groundwater in Iceland. Asbjørn Drengstig and Ragnheidur Thorarinsdottir. Volume 17, Issue 2, Page 60, May/June 2014.
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