Volume 72

Value Enhancement of Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) for the Live-lobster Export Market

Matthews, T.R; A.J. Spadaro; R.D. Bertelsen; L. Yee
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 165-167

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Two Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


Over the last decade, the increased value of and demand for Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), particularly on the international live market, have spurred interest in the aquaculture of spiny lobster. The complex life history of spiny lobster has, for the time being, generally constrained such enterprises to collection and captive grow-out of small-wild lobsters to marketable size. An alternative aquaculture method, developed here, involves the grow-out or “rehabilitation” of small, but legal-size, and low-grade lobsters captured in the fishery. “Low-grade” refers to lobsters not suitable for the high-value international live market including lobsters with missing appendages and those that are too weak or unhealthy to survive shipment. Our public-private partnership is developing the regulatory mechanisms and practical methods to add value to these low-grade lobsters by holding and feeding them in culture to increase both their size and grade. An added benefit of holding lobsters in culture is the ability to market lobsters at times of high demand and peak price particularly when the fishing season is closed. The demand for and price of lobsters fluctuates because of both supply and economic factors affect this luxury food item. In Florida, ex-vessel value of lobsters has ranged from $13.8 to $57.5 million dollars (US) during each fishing season since 1999. Landings of lobsters have declined nearly 20% in Florida and 12.5% in the Caribbean region since landings peaked in 1999. However, over the last 5 years, the price differential between whole frozen and live lobsters in Florida indicates that a 30% to 50% increase in market value is possible if full exploitation of the live-lobster export market can be attained.

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