The prawn farm project on Seychelles’ Coetivy island being undertaken by the state-owned Islands Development Company (IDC) is going well, said a top official on Wednesday.
The first batch of prawns brought to island late last year is expected to be ready for harvest by early April as was originally planned, but the biggest success has been the unexpected growth of the prawns.
Currently, IDC is only farming white shrimp and it was expected that their average body weight would be about 33 grammes after 120 days, but that target has been hit with 30 days remaining and the prawns still growing.
“We measure their growth by body weight and the results are showing it to be higher than the usual growth curve,” said Karine Rassool, the fisheries and aquaculture development manager at IDC.
“We are very satisfied with the results and we intend to make our first harvest by early April and we expect that by the end of April, Seychellois will be able to get their first taste of Coetivy prawns,” she added.
A second shipment of white shrimp arrived on the island on Wednesday. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
On Wednesday, a group of local journalists were taken to the island to see the progress of the project for themselves and had the honour of being the first people to get a taste of the white prawns from Coetivy.
The general consensus was that the prawns are quite delicious and will surely be a hit with the locals.
The prawns come from a hatchery in Singapore and during the journalists’ visit, a second shipment of white shrimps arrived on the island. They were placed in smaller tanks for acclimatisation to the conditions of the ponds before they are moved.
“The batch we received today has 330,000 larvae compared to the 150,000 we received from the first batch, as we wanted to have the trial at a lower density before moving on to larger batches,” said Rassool.
She added that by the end of the year, IDC expects to have its own hatchery, so that it will not have to bring the larvae all the way from Singapore, which is not an environmentally-friendly technique.
There are currently nine ponds on Coetivy being used for the project, but at the moment, only one is operational. According to Rassool, three ponds will be used for white shrimps and another three will be used for black tiger prawns.
There are currently nine ponds on Coetivy being used for the project, but at the moment, only one is operational. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
This is not the first time mass prawn farming is being done on Coetivy. With the help of broodstocks brought in from Madagascar and Mozambique, IDC established a black tiger prawn farm on Coetivy Island in 1989 in partnership with the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB). However, the farm was determined to be unprofitable and stopped operating in 2009.
“We have not constructed any new ponds on the island, but instead we renovated the ones that were already present and made a few changes so that we can adapt them to our new systems,” Rassool added.
With the locally farmed prawns are expected to hit the market soon but IDC has not yet put a price tag on them. Nevertheless, they expect it to be more affordable that the current imported stocks.