Okinawa science institute develops new squid aquaculture system

Photo: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology/Dr Ryuta Nakajima

Researchers from the Physics and Biology Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have developed what it claims is the first squid aquaculture system that has the potential to be commercialised.

OIST said successfully rearing squid in a way that is compatible with aquaculture has never before been achieved due to several of the animal’s traits such as their aggressive behaviour, sensitivity to water flow, food preferences, and complex lifecycle.

The system was developed after it became evident that all the species of squid in Japan’s waters have been declining since the 1980s and their estimated population sizes are just 10 per cent of what they previously were. The OIST said the situation is so dire that Japan, which has one of the highest rates of fish and seafood consumption in the world, now relies on imported, processed squid from South America.

“Generally, people think that aquaculture is easy but actually it’s quite challenging,” said Dr Zdenek Lajbner, who is responsible for squid culturing within the OIST Unit. “Take, for example, Japanese eel and tuna. Marine scientists have been trying to develop aquaculture for these two animals for decades. Despite that, both markets still predominantly rely on wild catch.”

Similarly, for the last 60 years, scientists have been trying to establish squid aquaculture with minor success.

OIST said that this invention has not only closed the lifecycle of the squid, but it is also done in a way that is efficient and affordable enough to be commercialised.

Dr Lajbner highlighted that the system specifically focuses on providing good conditions for spawning and hatching.

“We applied knowledge from different parts of aquaculture and made a lot of adjustments,” said Dr Ryuta Nakajima, visiting researcher at OIST. “Compared to my experience in two other labs, the hatching and survival rate of the animals is much higher here.”

This aquaculture system is aimed at a group of species called oval squid. Okinawa has three species of oval squid, with the ocean around mainland Japan having one or two.

The researchers are now working closely with OIST’s Office of Technology Development and Innovation (TDIC) to meet with companies that would be interested in commercialising the invention. As part of this, they have filled a provisional patent.

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!