Optimising methods for community-based sea cucumber ranching: experimental releases of cultured juvenile Holothuria scabra into seagrass meadows in Papua New Guinea

Hair, Cathy, Mills, David J., McIntyre, Rowan, and Southgate, Paul C. (2016) Optimising methods for community-based sea cucumber ranching: experimental releases of cultured juvenile Holothuria scabra into seagrass meadows in Papua New Guinea. Aquaculture Reports, 3. pp. 198-208.

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Hatchery-cultured juveniles of the commercial holothurian, sandfish (Holothuria scabra), were used for release experiments in a variety of marine habitats under traditional marine tenure near Kavieng, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Juveniles of approximately 4 g mean weight were released inside 100 m2 sea pens installed within seagrass meadows nearby partner communities, under the care of local 'wardens'. Within each sea pen, varying levels of protection (free release, 1-day cage and 7-day cage) were provided at release in order to determine if short-term predator exclusion improved survival. Ossicles of juvenile sandfish were tagged with different fluorochromes for each treatment and sandfish survival and growth was recorded after release. A range of biophysical parameters were recorded at the four sites. Contrary to expectations, short-term cage protection did not lead to higher survival at three sites, while a fourth site, despite meeting all considered criteria for suitable release habitat, experienced total loss of juveniles. There were significant differences in mean weight of juveniles between sites after four months. Multivariate analysis of biophysical factors clearly separated the sea pen habitats, strongly differentiating the best-performing site from the others. However, further research is needed to elucidate which biophysical or human factors are most useful in predicting the quality of potential sea ranch sites. Methods developed or refined through these trials could be used to establish pilot test plots at potential ranching sites to assess site suitability and provide guidance on the level of animal husbandry required before commencing community sea ranching operations in New Ireland Province, PNG.

Item ID: 48414
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2352-5134
Keywords: Holothuria scabra, mariculture, sea pens, predator exclusion, principal components analysis, biophysical variables
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Hair, Catherine Ann (2020) Development of community-based mariculture of sandfish, Holothuria scabra, in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), National Fisheries Authority (NFA)
Projects and Grants: ACIAR/NFA FIS/2010/054
Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 02:45
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830299 Fisheries- Wild Caught not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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