FSG removes key industry bottlenecks to commercial production of red snapper

PI: Dan Benetti, University of Miami

Recap: Researchers have worked to develop ways of raising and shipping young red snapper, boosting the growth of a nascent aquaculture industry for this high-value marine finfish in the Southeast U.S.

Relevance: Most wild fisheries globally are being harvested at or above maximum sustainable yield. Aquaculture can reduce the pressure on wild fisheries and increase food security, but the U.S. has lagged far behind other nations in annual aquaculture production. Industry bottlenecks, including the lack of seedstock, have hindered its progress. Developing marine fish seedstock sources and live-shipping technology are critical to support the growth of marine finfish aquaculture.

Response: The American red snapper has been under intense fishing pressure for decades. Enabling the production of snapper fingerlings for the aquaculture industry could alleviate pressures on wild populations and grant commercial producers access to low-cost, reliable supplies of a high-value finfish. Florida Sea Grant and partners addressed key problems limiting snapper aquaculture, including: the inability to consistently produce high-quality spawn; no standard larval-rearing protocol; reliance on a diet of copepods; and low rates of larval survival.

Results: The team succeeded in maturation, year-round spawning, larval rearing and production of red snapper in high numbers, establishing reliable sources of seedstock of this high-value fish. The project supplied eggs, larvae and juveniles to other institutions for research and outreach and provided tens of thousands of fingerlings to companies to assess grow-out potential. It produced snapper for testing consumer acceptance, the first time in the U.S. that farmed red snapper has reached market testing.

Partners: Mote Marine Laboratory; Beaver Street Fisheries; Frost Miami Museum of Science; UM-RSMAS; UF Whitney Lab; MegaPesca Lda., Portugal (MP); Horse Creek Aqua Farms