Aquaculture for all

First Generation of Farmed Vietnamese Lobster

HA NOI, VIET NAM After 10 months of trial breeding, the first generation of fresh-water lobster raised in Viet Nam has proved suitable for large-scale farming, according to scientists at the Research Institute for Aquaculture No 1.

The lobsters, weighing between 100 and 150g each, have adapted well to local conditions and have proven to be disease resistant and fast-growing, said the Vietnam News Agency. They report that the scientists said that minimal capital was needed to start farming, and that the northern provinces would be ideal breeding grounds because the climate was favourable and the water quality was good.

According to Nguyen Hai Son, an expert at the institute, fresh-water lobsters are suitable for intensive farming in rice fields or in the same ponds as other farmed fish. This adaptability would appeal to farmers, he said.

"Breeding lobsters is a good choice for farmers. They will benefit from a stable income and lobsters are less risky to raise than other aquacultural products," Son said.

Although the fresh-water variety contained less meat than those from the sea, their shells could be used to produce kitozan, a chemical used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, preservatives and cosmetics, Pham Duc Luong, director of the institutes Centre for Technology Transfer, told the Viet Nam News.

"We can raise lobster ourselves, rather than catching them in the wild like sea lobster," Luong said, "Fresh-water lobsters reproduce very quickly, and there is a huge market for them in China."

He added that after many years of fresh-water lobster breeding in the US and China, experience had shown that the technique did not pollute the environment.

Lobsters are adaptable to different environmental conditions, and as such the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to encourage farmers in infertile northern provinces such as Phu Tho, Ninh Binh and Bac Giang to take up lobster breeding as a viable alternative to rice cultivation.

Phu Tho authorities have already expressed interest in the idea and have begun trial breeding of the crustaceans. The provincial Peoples Committee has authorised the C&L Aquatic Products Company to invest in breeding and processing fresh-water lobster.

The company will build a lobster processing plant with a capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year, at a cost of US$5 million.

The Agriculture Extension Centre in Bac Ninh Province has also received fresh- water lobster to distribute to farmers willing to breed them on a trial basis.

Fresh-water lobster originate from North America, and have been raised successfully in Europe, Africa and Asia.

China is the largest fresh water lobster producer and exporter in the world.

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