CORDIS - EU research results

Development of new techniques in hatchery rearing, fishery enhancement and aquaculture for Nephrops

Final Report Summary - NEPHROPS (Development of new techniques in hatchery rearing, fishery enhancement and aquaculture for Nephrops)

Executive Summary:
The NEPHROPS project sought to develop technologies and know-how relevant to increasing the profitability of the creeling (potting) sector of the fishery. The project addressed technologies relevant to the supply side (hatchery), catch (baits and pots), site selection and release of non-commercial sized stock. Training materials were prepared and a website and twitter account were developed to promote and disseminate knowledge about creeling and the results from the project. The project developed hatchery protocols that increased the successful transition to post larval stages. Differences in catch attributable to bait type and pot design were identified from field trials. Surveys of inshore Nephrops grounds characterised the catch as being highest on sediments of intermediate echo strength, on medium to fine sands. Experimental releases of non-commercial individuals demonstrated that individuals could integrate into existing Nephrops grounds and survive for at least a year before being caught again. Overall the project demonstrated the feasibility of key components of rearing, capture and ranching. These offer opportunities for specific exploitable technologies as well as more general advice on steps SME-AGS can recommend to add value to local fisheries.

Project Context and Objectives:
Nephrops (also known as Dublin Bay Prawn, Langoustine and Norway lobster, among other names) are caught in one of the most valuable crustacean fisheries in Europe, with an annual first sale value of close to €200 million. The proportion of this catch that is trawled or potted varies between countries and regions. Pot caught Nephrops offer potential small-scale sustainable fisheries for coastal communities. Advantages of pots include potentially higher value from focussing on live, larger (high value) individuals, eco-labelling certification, less bycatch and lower investment costs. The overall aim of the project was to develop the options available to Nephrops fishers. RTD deliverables were matched against questions that SME –AGS posed when asked to evaluate options for Nephrops creeling or enhancement as follows:
- Which habitat is of most value for creeling and as possible expansion areas? Objective set: Nephrops habitat suitability maps.
- Is there a robust and cheap way for an SME to survey novel areas in the future? Objective set: Site assessment protocol
- How do recently released individuals move? Objective set: Report on movements of recently released individuals.
- Does stocking work? Objective set: Report detailing survival and residency post release of seeded stock and growth of ranched stock.
- Can baits be improved? Objective set: Novel baits manufactured and their potential for creel fishery evaluated.
- Can local stock be subsidized with additional food for faster growth? Objective set -Juvenile Feed enhancement.
- Can pots be improved, particularly with respect to selectivity? Objective set: Creel prototype completed and evaluated.
- How could a hatchery be set up? Objective set: Hatchery handbook.
- What is the best way of returning wild-caught discards and hatchery-reared Nephrops? Objective set: Release protocol for Nephrops and release equipment.

Project Results:
Experimental releases of tagged Nephrops established a clear proof-of-concept that non-marketable individuals (e.g. below commercially relevant size) could be ranched by stocking suitable grounds and recaptured at a larger size in subsequent years. Standard fisheries acoustics may be used to help identify suitable inshore areas for further exploration. Technology and know-how associated with the release process has been screened for potential take-up by SME-AGs.

Improvements to bait and creel design were made, offering opportunities for the SME-AGs to build and licence novel designs.

Work in the hatchery part of the project greatly increased the number of Nephrops larvae reaching the benthic post larval stage. This has implications for the successful aquaculture of fragile decapod larvae such as Nephrops. The hatchery work also demonstrated suitable diets. The hatchery handbook is being screened for IP before intended dissemination.

Potential Impact:
Depending on the local circumstances of individual fishing enterprises, the results from the project offer a number of ways to increase the volume or diversity of businesses. This could be by developing an additional stock of Nephrops within a business’s fished area. Specific legislation on ranching in some countries may facilitate this. Pot and creel developments may have a direct impact on catches and offer licencing possibilities for SME members of the Nephrops consortium. The hatchery work is not yet ready for direct application in Nephrops releases, but offers several innovations that may be further developed by hatchery businesses.

Dissemination activities have raised the profile of Nephrops potting through trade fairs and press articles. An active twitter account has linked a community of fishers, researchers and regulators. The project website has been used to disseminate the project activities and hosts a training course with modules on Nephrops ecology, fisheries, hatcheries and discard survival.

List of Websites: