crabs may be harvested for claws for approximately 6 years. Claws will
regenerate after harvest, making the stone crab a true renewable resource.
There are basically two kinds of stone crabs, the Gulf stone crab (Menippe Adina) and the Florida stone crab (Menippe Mercenaria). The company chose the Florida stone crab for its size, fast growth, flavour and for its high demand in the international market. Bahamas Certified Seafood (BCS) will produce crablets of stone crab and grow them to harvest size. Primary focus will be placed on the breeding and rearing processes to ensure the highest quality using the most efficient aquaculture system possible. The company will initially offer high quality stone crabs, both live and frozen. High quality, disease free and uniform crab claws will be Bahamas Certified Seafood’s flagship product.
Past Research Documented Facts
The assumptions listed below, which are numbers intentionally reduced to lower than prior research benchmarks, were used in formulating the projections in this plan.
Using these conservative benchmarks, our projections for the 900 females in the “control” will be 9,000,000 crabs each year. For the Proforma projections we will use 7,500,000.
The stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) is a promising aquaculture species due to its fast growth and good market acceptability and price. However, a stone crab aquaculture operation requires significant capital input for both the breeding and growout phases.
Our Stone crab farming will require expertise in husbandry of crustaceans, water quality control, trench management, and nutrition, processing and marketing.
Stone crabs currently have good export potential. But the development of new stone crab products, both for domestic and overseas markets, will also create new much larger economic opportunities. One of these new products is bulk-packed flash frozen crab claws. Claws that are flash frozen at -50 degrees are suitable for bulk packaging and marketing in traditional grocery stores. Other products such as crab cakes and canned crab also have significant financial potential.
Bahamas Certified Seafood (BCS) will build and manage a stone crab hatchery. This hatchery will be part of an ongoing research program run by Dr Hector Cruz Lopez and other highly experienced scientist. This "controlled" hatchery operation is the basis for all Proforma financial projections. It will represent less than 1% of the total BCS breeding stone crab population.
Mature female stone crabs kept in large tanks or in trenches under suitable conditions will extrude eggs. Each egg batch contains about 1 million eggs. The eggs take 12-14 days to hatch, depending on temperature. BCS will have 30 tanks with 30 crabs per tank for a total of 900 breeding females in the "controlled" operation. This control operation will be part of the research facility monitored by the scientist employed by BCS.
Hatchery-produced megalopa or first-stage "crablets" are typically reared in nursery systems to a more advanced crablet stage, 10-40mm across, before seeding into a grow out system. During the 3-6 week nursery period, the crablets are benthic and cannibalistic but can be successfully reared in shallow trenches, at densities greater than 50 per square meter. Density levels will be maintained by separation panels in the trenches. The crablets are initially fed a diet of artificial formulated feeds, but very quickly, will readily consume minced fresh diets such as mussel or fish meat. Water quality is less critical at the crablet stages compared with the hatchery phase.
Growing crab is a common practice in the Far East, but in the US, it has not yet progressed beyond pilot-scale operations. In our aquaculture farm process, post-nursery stone crabs can reach marketable size and maturity in 12-18 months compared with 24-36 months under natural conditions.
The stone crab grow out system requires a substantial area of earthen trenches with access to large quantities of open sea water. These trenches will be 2' wide and 7' deep. Farm design requirements for stone crabs are very similar to that for marine prawn production. Advances in high-density grow production systems will in the future remove some of the constraints on site area required and site availability, but this method of production will not be capital-intensive due to small construction cost of the trenches.