Advancement Of Extensive Larval Culture And Earthen Pond Grow-Out Protocols For Commercial Cobia (Rachycentron Canadum) Production
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The proposed project will directly address major constraints that currently limit development and expansion of the Nation's food and agricultural systems through the development of novel techniques in cobia (Rachycentron canadum) aquaculture. Cobia is a high priority species for aquaculture along the Gulf of Mexico due to high market demand ($37.40/kg of fillet), fast growth rates, low-post larval mortality, and excellent feed conversion rates. Increased aquaculture production and availability of this species is a necessity to help meet increasing domestic and international demand for seafood, especially high value yet sustainable species such as cobia. In order to increase availability, we must develop new production protocols and methods for cobia that move production from the current intensive, technology-laden, re-circulation oriented protocols currently used in the US, to extensive outdoor culture systems that are widely available along the gulf coast. The proposed project will investigate two novel, extensive larval culture production techniques for cobia and two novel fingerling grow-out methods to simplify and expand production to outdoor pond systems. Both stages of culture, larval and grow-out, will utilize natural food production from fertilized pond systems and will produce market-sized fish under local environmental conditions without the need for indoor heated systems. Current aquaculture producers have expressed great interest in this project and have partnered with TAMU to conduct on-farm trials at their own expense using the proposed study protocols. These sister studies in commercial settings will provide a great deal of additional data at no expense.