Lobsters are decapod crustaceans closely related to shrimp and crabs. They are highly edible, with their sweet red meat earning them the nickname “rock lobster.” They are also commercially important in the US and abroad, making their conservation a global issue.
It is no secret that the Philippines’ spiny lobster fishery is a highly profitable enterprise. The spiny lobster, lobsters or banagan, or the full-claw lobsters sells for Ph 1,500 to Ph 6,000 ($28.35 to $113.42) per kilogram in the Philippines.
In 2020, the Department of Agriculture established collection and trade restrictions on spiny lobsters (Panulirus spp.) because of their high value, leading to indiscriminate harvests. As such, biologists, economists, and marketers must work together to maintain this industry’s long-term sustainability by using new cultural techniques and the cultivation of slipper lobster.
There is no doubt that the slipper lobster, locally known as pick-pitik in the Philippines, is not as popular as other lobster species. Still, their cultivation is set to expand as part of the lobster industry. An abundance of lobsters would not be possible without viable lobster seed hatcheries. Lobster farms still purchase juvenile lobsters from fishers that regulatory agencies inspect.
SEAFDEC/AQD project leader Dr. Shelah Mae Ursua explains that in addition to their shorter larval stages, slipper lobster larvae are also hardier than spiny lobster larvae. We should also mention that the slipper lobster matures within 14 to 16 months from hatching to market size, compared to the spiny lobsters, 22 to 24 months.