World Aquaculture 2023

May 29 - June 1, 2023

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia


Quinn P. Fitzgibbon*, Greg G. Smith, Chris G. Carter, Andrew J. Trotter, Basseer M. Codabaccus, Jennifer Blair, Scott Parkinson.


Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS),

University of Tasmania, Private Bag 49,

Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia.



Closed cycle spiny lobster propagation has long been considered a unattainable holy grail of aquaculture principally due to difficulties in culturing lobsters through their long and complex larval development cycle. However, research at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) has developed reliable commercial processes for the larval culture of spiny lobster (Panulirus ornatus). This breakthrough in hatchery production has paved the way for the development sustainable commercial lobster aquaculture in Australia. The research team at UTAS has now partnered with Ornatas Pty Ltd to develop tools for sustainable juvenile lobster culture and to establish the world’s first onshore spiny lobster aquaculture facility.

Spiny lobsters are cultured in other regions of the world using wild seedstock and on-growing in seacages utilizing wild caught feeds (trash fish). This is not viable in Australia due to the unavailability of wild harvested seedstock and strict environmental regulations. Instead, sustainable juvenile culture of lobsters is best achieved in onshore systems where culture parameters can be better controlled, and environmental impacts limited. To resolve the challenges of onshore culture, UTAS and Ornatas have joined forces in a multi-partnered Australian Research Council project, the Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture. Key research foci to facilitate immediate commercialisation of P. ornatus includes: the development of a sustainable manufactured feed and systems to reduce the impacts of cannibalism. Other areas of research focus include: the development of systems for improved seedstock quality and transport, and a understanding of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of a developing industry.

For a sustainable lobster industry to flourish, a manufactured feed is needed. The feed must have a suitable nutritional profile, be water stable, palatable, have a low FCR, use economical, sustainable ingredients and be applicable to commercial production. From an experimental perspective many of these criteria have been achieved with a focus now on the commercialisation phase. The second key focus of research is the establishment of systems to prevent cannibalism, especially in juveniles. Cannibalism generally occurs on moulting animals, they are readily attacked and consumed by conspecifics. Intensive video work and behavioural studies are being conducted to gain insight into ways that cannibalism can be mitigated in a commercial setting. The outcome of this work will facilitate the development of new and novel culture techniques for this and other antagonistic crustacean species.