Revolutionising the scampi fishery

October 2015

Cawthron scientist Dr Shaun Ogilvie outlines his team's vision to improve New Zealand ’s scampi industry. Photo: Cawthron Institute.

In a project led by scientists from the Cawthron Institute, a Māori fishing company, scientists and engineers have joined forces to develop more sustainable and commercially-attractive harvesting methods for New Zealand scampi. They also have plans to establish land-based aquaculture systems for scampi production.

In a presentation at this year’s Seafood New Zealand Conference in Wellington , Cawthron’s Dr Shaun Ogilvie outlined the team’s MBIE-funded research programme which includes a new hatchery for scampi at Cawthron Aquaculture Park . It is the world’s first captive breeding programme for the species.

At present, female scampi ‘in berry’ (carrying eggs under their tails) go to market with the rest of the trawl. Shaun says there is a tremendous opportunity here to add value by using those eggs as aquaculture brood stock, which they are successfully doing within the programme.

“The correct food is obviously the key thing, and a couple of people on our international TAG [Technical Advisory Group] have been vital, with that knowledge about what to feed them. Everything beyond the first larval stage is new to science and it’s really new for us – it’s exciting stuff.”

The team are also looking at pot designs for harvesting scampi, and investigating whether the ‘potting’ method of capture can replace trawling. However, early results were not promising: 525 pots of five different types from the Northern Hemipshere were tested over 25,987 hours of fishing and only one scampi was captured!

Shaun says it does demonstrate that New Zealand scampi are fundamentally different to Northern Hemisphere varieties in that they are highly reluctant to enter cylindrical or conical entranceways. Their claws are also daintier.

This has led the team to develop an entirely new type of ‘Kiwi Pot’, which they have 3D printed and put the components through some 2000 lab trials. Early results are far more promising, but no figures or images of the pots are available at this time as it is commercially sensitive.