A Three-Phase Approach To Production of Shedding Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) In Low Salinity Ponds In Mississippi

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


The ability to reliably produce small blue crabs through aquaculture allows for expanded development of the soft crab industry in the United States with little or no impact to the wild fishery. Research on soft crab aquaculture in Mississippi is based on a three-phase approach: hatchery production of megalopae, salinity acclimation and grow-out of early juveniles in raceways, and final growth to shedding crabs in shallow ponds. Limited access to quality salt water or to hard water aquifers in Mississippi, coupled with the high cost associated with salting ponds led to the development of techniques to produce peeler crabs in reduced salinities. Hatchery success has been variable (average 14%) with significantly lower production following the Deepwater Horizon Oil disaster in 2011. Protocols for hatching and rearing of larvae and methods developed for intermediate grow-out and salinity acclimation of juveniles are reviewed as well as the adaptation of a folk-fishing technique to harvest peelers from the ponds. Economic studies defined production parameters necessary to reduce costs and attain profitability in low salinity (1) pond culture. Increased survivorship of larvae and juveniles during the hatchery, intermediate grow-out and pond phases and stocking density in ponds were key determinants of profitability. Simulation results at various stocking densities indicated that production of shedding crabs could be economically feasible. Although individual culture runs in the current research approached survival rates that would ensure profitability, routine survivorship is currently below the projected estimates necessary to achieve that goal.

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Journal of Shellfish Research





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