Learning About Crayfish Aquaculture

January 9, 2016 | ProgressTH Cherax quadricarinatus, also known as the redclaw crayfish, is originally from Australia. There, it is a popular species that is caught in the wild and also raised by farmers. It is served by chefs in a variety of creative ways and has become so popular there, aquaculture operations at one point could barely keep up.

About 10 years ago, redclaw crayfish made their way into Thailand. What began as a small community of underground breeders supplying local restaurants has grown into a nationwide aquaculture phenomenon. Thanks to Thailand's Royal Project, cultivation has been promoted nationwide by a number of agricultural and technology colleges.

Phetchaburi's College of Agriculture and Technology recently conducted a day-long training session instructing attendees on the ins and outs of redclaw crayfish cultivation. The training session culminated in a visit to the college's onsite crayfish facility where several hundred are being raised, bred, and sold to prospective farmers. The dean of the college was also on the look out for serious partners in helping fill quotas for the crayfish which are in increasing demand both in Thailand and abroad.

Staff at the Phetchaburi Agriculture and Technology College shows attendees some of the larger crayfish being raised. The facility is simple but effective, and will be easily replicated by entrepreneurs the country over as the crayfish catch on. 
Back in the city, you can find redclaw crayfish at large aquarium shops like at JJ Market. It turns out they are popular among hobbyists as well.

Probably the most interesting thing about these crayfish is the fact that almost anyone determined to, can raise them. They are a hardy species that thrive on a wide variety of easy-to-come-by foods like snails, earthworms, and different kinds of vegetables and fruits, most of which can be grown simultaneously by farmers or people who already have gardens.

Because of this, so many people ended up cultivating these crayfish in Thailand before regulators could restrict their production (to save big-industry mainstays the crayfish would be competing against on menus). When the Royal Project stepped in and began promoting crayfish aquaculture, the floodgates were opened for good.

Knowledge of professionally raising the redclaw crayfish is now reaching a wider audience with open training sessions at local colleges.

Where the industry goes next is up to both the farmers who raise them, and the chefs who prepare and serve them. Like tilapia, another introduced aquaculture species both in Thailand and around the world, it is likely to catch on in a big way. So common and popular is tilapia in Thailand, many younger Thais are unaware it even was an introduced species.

While freshwater crayfish of any species may never replace seafood in the hearts and on the plates of people worldwide, it may help reduce demand enough to help ocean-going species repopulate season to season. Aquaculture ensures abundance where fishing usually cannot. And if you are someone who will avoid seafood for this reason, now you have another alternative to consider at dinner time.

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