New Caledonia Fisheries officers bring back home lobster farming techniques (January 2009)
Saturday, 24 January 2009 00:00

By Antoine Teitelbaum

New Caledonia’s aquaculture sector has been mostly focusing on shrimps over the past decades. However, there is now a will for diversification. Thanks to its very rich environment, New Caledonia is looking at industries that could use the diverse and abundant natural resources to build up small to medium scale aquaculture sector.

  A possibility sits into the capture and culture of lobster pueruli through affordable techniques that, if deployed at artisanal scale, could benefit households while making sustainable, thus attractive, incomes. Lobster culture based on wild caught pueruli exists in Vietnam and has boomed in the past years. In Vietnam, small scale fisher folks capture pueruli using specific collection devices and sell them to middle men, who bulk sell them to lobster farmers. All farming activities take place at sea, and are mostly concentrated in the central areas of Vietnam, around Nah Trang. The main species raised is Panulirus ornatus, which can reach 1 kg in less than 18 month. 

The Southern province Fisheries Development Agency of New Caledonia (DDR) has approached SPC Aquaculture Section to seek its support with the organization of a study visit to the lobster farming areas of Vietnam. With further assistance from Dr Clive Jones from the Northern Fisheries Center in Cairns, three officers from New Caledonia DDR (Bernard Fao, Thomas Réquillart and Emmanuel Coutures) were connected with the university of Nah Trang (Pr Anh Tuan) for a duration of two weeks and were able to reach the Nah Trang lobster farming area for a full hands on work experience. This allowed the New Caledonia officers to understand the basics of this activity as well as the similarities and impediments of applying it to New Caledonia.  

New Caledonia officers were able to see and do activities as varied as setting up and harvesting of pueruli collectors (net made and drilled wood techniques), grow out in cages, feeding and husbandry of the lobsters, transportation, and disease management. Later on, New Caledonia officers were able to attend an ACIAR-funded international lobster symposium that was being run back to back with their training. During this event, they were able to meet lobster specialists from Australia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. 

It has been observed that some areas of New Caledonia have very good (although unpredictable) lobster settlement at times. DDR officers wish to trial the pueruli collection techniques that they have seen in Vietnam and assess whether such an activity can be technically viable in New Caledonia. Once, and if, this is proven, the economics of lobster farming in New Caledonia will be worked out in order to be able to supply, year round, a commodity that can command locally, at times, premium prices of over USD 30 per kg.DDR has approached the SPC aquaculture section to be involved in carrying out the initial trials of pueruli collection. Two different types of collectors (mesh nets and drilled would) will then be trialed on  long line systems in NC water during next quarter and will be monitored 2-3 times a week to assess the potential for pueruli collection in areas that are renowned for holding substantial lobster settlement during winter month. 

For further information contact Antoine Teitelbaum, SPC aquaculture officer ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Thomas Requillart, New Caledonia DDR aquaculture programme manager ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )