EXPERT TOPIC GROUPER
Introduction by Alex Whitebrook
Groupers are most commonly cultured in Southeast Asia, with official propagation starting at the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute in 1979. As grouper farming generally presents fewer management issues compared to shrimp farming, it quickly rose to popularity among fish farmers. Over time, groupers have become one of the most important aquaculture commodities in the Asia-Pacific region. All throughout its commercial rise, Grouper has also remained an important resource for both small and large-scale farmers. Today, Groupers are recognised as an important contributor to the economic development of many countries. The primary issues facing the further development of the Grouper industry, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, include slower growth of livestock under formulated feeds, which are not usually catered toward the dietary needs of Groupers. This issue is worsened by the lack of appropriate handling techniques during collection, transport and storage of collected fish, as well as the often unregulated management of wild stocks. Another issue lies in the shortage of fingerlings, with most farmers relying on wild-caught fry and fingerlings in order to raise enough stock. To further challenge the industry, there is a lack of appropriate
techniques for efficient grouper culture to marketable sizes. Handling stress and disease cause high levels of mortality among groupers during collection and culture phases of production. Farmed fish are often prone to diseases (especially viral diseases and parasitic infestations), and so this creates major issues for the successful growth of the industry. Research to solve these problems is under way in Japan, Taiwan P.C., Thailand and Bahrain. The development of new, faster growing, and more resilient strains, through selective breeding techniques and use of Intensive cost-effective recirculation systems, are imperative to increase the production. Although antibiotics were once seen as a quick solution to such issues, the potential for development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are pathogenic to humans has caused their use to significantly reduce. With the Grouper industry at a ‘bottleneck’ stage in its life, now is an important time for the development of new technology that can tackle the industry’s shortfalls. Once again, Taiwan takes the lead in Grouper culture, as the following article addresses this issue by introducing a new alternative to antibiotics that may give Groupers the boost they need.
34 | March 2017 - International Aquafeed