Barramundi farms to replace pro fisherman
The Northern Territory's Amateur Fishing Association says barramundi from acquaculture farms will soon replace those caught by commercial fishermen in Top End rivers.
The association's Warren De With says the barramundi farm on Bathurst Island will exceed all catches by commercial fisherman in the Territory and the Kimberly Coast line within two years.
Mr De With says that will leave the rivers available for amateur fishing and tourism.
"Basically they're going to replace a lot of the effort that commercial fisherman gill netting in the wild are going to do by having a barramundi farm that doesn't have a by-catch problem," he said.
"That is what most people get upset about with the commercial sector is the high number of incidental by-catches they're taking out of the system at the same time to catch barramundi is alarming."
Biologists explore cobia farming
Taiwan's successful efforts hoped to be duplicated in U.S.
By Island Packet
June 11 - WorldCatch News Network - As S.C. Department of Natural Resources biologist Al Stokes dangled the silvery bait fish over the tank, he boasted about the creatures that lurked below the water's dark surface.
Then, with a splash and millisecond glint, the bait was gone.
"She almost got a finger that time," Stokes said of the 40-pound cobia in the tank.
The fish, until recently in the Broad River, is one of five at the Waddell Mariculture Center that scientists hope will provide the building blocks for a new aquaculture product to rank with salmon, catfish and shrimp -- farmed cobia.
"Our interest is to develop culture techniques for cobia," said Ted Smith, a department biologist who is the project's leader.
Already, Smith said, cobia is a popular farm fish in Asia, where it is raised in offshore cages. He said about 80 percent of all cages in Taiwan are stocked with cobia.
According to a report at the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific Web site, Taiwanese cobia farmers raised about 1,500 metric tons of the fish in 1999.
Smith is working to make the species popular for American fish farmers.
He said the project was in its early stages, but he has 12 teams of investigators across the nation working to find ways of best breeding one the Lowcountry's most popular gamefish.
And this spring the five cobia at the center spawned about a million hatchlings in what the researchers believe is the first time cobia have been spawned in captivity without the aid of hormones.
Once breeding techniques have been perfected, Smith said, the aquaculture industry can profit from the species' key farming traits.
Two of these qualities are that the fish grows quickly, making it cost effective, and it has a tasty flavor that makes it marketable, Smith said.
A recent study in North Carolina showed cobia can grow 8 pounds in one year given the right conditions, Stokes said.
Eight pounds in 12 months is quite a jump for a fish no larger than a split thistle seed when it hatches.
And, said Tim Moynihan, sous chef at Alexander's restaurant on Hilton Head, the fish is flavorful.
Cobia is versatile, with a "fairly fishy" taste that can be prepared as a traditional grilled fish with lemon and capers, or with more contemporary flavors using fruits, such as mango, he said.
Moynihan said Alexander's serves cobia as a special when area fishermen sell it to the restaurant. It is particularly popular with locals, he said.
The first step in domesticating cobia, Smith said, is finding ways to spawn the fish on command.
John DeLoach, a Hilton Head fishing guide, recently took department scientists onto the Broad River to catch cobia, Stokes said.
The fish migrate into the river each spring to spawn, and the scientists were hoping to catch the fish to spawn at the center.
Five fish -- two females and three males -- were caught, Stokes said, and spawned within a day of being brought back to the center.
Once the eggs are fertilized, they only take about 24 hours for the hatch, he said. The hatchlings feed off a yolk sack for about 48 hours.
Last week the hatchlings were placed in a pond at the center, where researchers hope to raise them into fingerlings.
The researchers hope to keep the captured fish to see whether they spawn again next year. That will allow them to gain more information about what triggers cobia reproduction, the first step in bringing another farmed fish to local grocery seafood sections.
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