According to the Aquaculture Center of the Florida Keys, “Not only is cobia a very tasty fish, it also grows very quickly: they reach 6-7kg one year after hatching (three times the growth rate of Atlantic salmon). These characteristics make cobia an appealing aquaculture species. Farmed cobia have a low feed conversion ratio, another plus for an aquaculture species. Although commercial production of cobia has only just begun in the west, it already has a successful history in Asia, most notably in Taiwan where cobia is stocked in around 80% of ocean cages.”
The Aquaculture Center include some very detailed photographs of cobia, their husbandry, and background information.
Le Xan, from the Research Institute for Aquaculture No I, Vietnam; has published (via Simon Wilkinson, at enaca.org) a report entitled Advances in the seed production of Cobia in Vietnam. From the introduction:
Cobia Rachycentron canadum culture is expanding throughout the world, notably in China and Vietnam. Cobia have an extensive natural distribution, grow quickly, and can feed on artificial diets. Under culture conditions, Cobia can reach 3–4 kg in body weight in one year and 8–10 kg in two years. The products from Cobia are exported to the US, Taiwan Province of China and local markets. Market price of one-year farmed Cobia are around US$ 4–6 kg in Vietnam. Research on seed production and grow out culture of cobia in Vietnam began in 1997-1998.
The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute began researching cobia around 1990. The Marine Science Institute reports that, “In April and May of 2001, cobia caught as juveniles two years earlier spawned naturally in a 9,000 gallon recirculating broodstock system at FAML. This is the first reported spawn of cobia raised from sub-adult to sexual maturity in a recirculating tank system using photoperiod and temperature cycles.” A more detailed elaboration of the research and outlines of cobia husbandry is also available.
There are increasing numbers of summaries and reports being published about cobia. Niels Svennevig, Head, of the International Projects Department, SINTEF Fisheries & Aquaculture, N-7465, Trondheim, Norway has published a summary entitled Farming of cobia or black kingfish (Rachycentron canadum). Houng-Yung Chen, from the Institute of Marine Biology, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, has published a brief summary discussing the use of low fishmeal feeds for cobia.
Research has also been conducted into the impact of cage farming cobia. Nazira Mejia Niño, from the University of Puerto Rico, has published a thesis submitted for a Master in Marine Sciences in Biological Oceanography, entitled Effects of Sustainable Offshore Cage Culture of Rachycentron canadum and Lutjanus analis on water quality and sediments in Puerto Rico. From the abstract:
This work was part of environmental impact study conducted from August 2002 until October 2003 related to two 3000m3-Ocean Spar submerged open-ocean growout cages stocked with Rachycentron canadum and Lutjanus analis south of the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico.
The principal objectives were to determine the local environmental effects of open-ocean submerged cage culture on water and sediment quality, as well as changes over time of some environmental quality parameters, including the feasibility of these operations on tropical marine waters.
Nutrient concentration (ammonia-N, nitrite-N, nitrate-N, and phosphate) were evaluated bimonthly in the column water and interstitial water at fifteen stations around the cage and three depths for the water samples; likewise, several water and sediment quality parameters were analyzed (dissolved oxygen, water temperature, turbidity, chlorophyll- a, salinity and organic matter). Water analyses indicated that, in general, both cages and the control site showed similar nutrients concentrations throughout the months analyzed. Ammonia was the nutrient with the highest concentration; however, these values were relatively low and normal for these waters.
Results of the first year indicate that this operation did not impact the quality of the water column, or the sediments even though large quantities of feed were introduced into the system. This was probably due to the large amounts of water flowing through the cages. The information obtained from this study provides a basis to evaluate the feasibility of this operation, encourages the open-ocean aquaculture industry.