Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee
Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee

European crayfish in recirculation systems

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CenSE researchers: Jurgen Adriaen, Stef Aerts, Thomas Abeel, Walter Himpe, Wouter Meeus
Contact: Thomas Abeel
Duration: September 2009 – December 2013 
Partners: ULB, Boerenbond

In this project we will investigate at which temperature, light regime, water quality, density and environment mature European lobsters need to be cultivated in order to grow optimally and what nutrition is needed for this.

The crisis encourages Flemish agricultural circles to take a creative look at opportunities for diversification. A (worldwide) trend of increasing consumption of farmed fish and shellfish appears to coincide with an increasing interest in quality food. The latter, however, is not interpreted purely in terms of technology (eg slow food movement), but often also incorporates notions of authenticity, sustainability, local production, etc. Within certain niches there seems to be a possibility here for own production of European crayfish, which is known for its exceptional taste.

In open breeding systems, the European lobster is very vulnerable to a fungus that is spread by exotic lobsters (the ones that are usually eaten), so we choose to work in closed breeding systems (Recirculation Aquaculture System, RAS). This also offers environmental benefits because water use and waste products can be properly controlled. We currently see this cultivation as a possible additional industry on existing farms.

The objective of this research project is twofold:
  • Developing a technical "breeding sheet" for European crayfish;
  • Checking the profitability and market potential of such cultivation in Flanders / Belgium.

In addition to successful breeding, sales are also extremely important. That is why we examine what the possible market price is for crayfish (for growers and consumers) and how stable it is. We also analyze the market potential (market size, distribution options, etc.) because these largely determine the commercial viability of the product.

From bringing together the technical necessities and market opportunities, we will be able to conclude whether and under what conditions commercial breeding of European crayfish in Flanders is an option. The implementation of a financial and economic analysis will have to provide a definitive answer.
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