Halibut Hatchery Update II

Only a few hatcheries in the world can grow halibut, including the CCAR here in Maine.  In many years world hatchery supply falls short of industry demand.  This is because growing halibut to the 5 gram juvenile size from eggs is a lengthy and intricate process, with multiple stages where many things can (and do!) go wrong. Everything about the process is challenging.  Ripe fish, some of them over 40 kg, must be manually strip-spawned multiple times in quest of good quality gametes.  After hatching, the fragile yolk sac larvae have to be incubated for 45 long days in up-welling tanks before they are ready for feeding.  From there they are transferred to larval rearing tanks, where they are fed live artemia enriched with nutritious supplements for another 60+ days.  Finally, the larvae are weaned onto specialty diets as they metamorphose into miniature halibut juveniles.  After five or more months in the hatchery, when they are about the size of a half-dollar, the juveniles can be sold to farmers, who grow them for another 2-6 years to market.

Since February the CCAR hatchery crew has been collecting halibut eggs that will eventually, if all goes well, grow into healthy juvenile fish.  Today was an important milestone, as we stocked our first batch of the 2016 season into the larval rearing system.  Several more good batches are still in the yolk sac and egg stages, meaning it won’t be until late fall before we can offer juveniles for sale.  Although there isn’t yet a halibut farm in Maine, there are several in Europe and Canada, and our closest customer is just a few hours north of the border.  Visit our halibut page to learn more about our halibut aquaculture program.