Research on Tautog Aquaculture and Enhancement
Objectives of the tautog research are to:
1. Develop culture techniques for commercial production of the tautog from spawn to an acceptable market size using both intensive, land-based and extensive cultivation strategies.
2. Investigate the potential to increase growth rate through selective breeding and/or molecular genetic techniques.
3. Determine utility of hormonal stimulation of adult spawners, along with temperature and photoperiod manipulation, to obtain spawning as needed.
4. Investigate the need and feasibility for induction of immunity to microbial pathogens.
5. Determine habitat requirements of early life stages and investigate the potential for enhancing natural populations.
6. Transfer technology to regional entrepreneurs via on-site training, the Annual Milford Aquaculture Seminar and other means.
7. Provide educational opportunities from secondary to university students in marine science and aquaculture.
A dramatic decline of traditional "firm, white-meat" species such as cod, haddock, and flounder has resulted in increased fishing pressure on tautog stocks which has a similar meat quality
. A significant increase in fishing pressure on tautog has resulted in stock declines and age/size structure in populations.
Slow growth in the wild, coupled with relatively late age to maturity, make a recovery from stock declines slow.
Size-limit conservation measures are being imposed on the tautog fishery, eliminating the catch of the smaller preferred size for the live-trade market.
The tautog has potential for culture in both extensive and intensive culture systems.
The literature suggests the tautog is hardy, adaptable to captive rearing, can be spawned naturally and artificially, may be conditioned to spawn relatively easily, and that juveniles can be reared in high densities.
The tautog's high live-market value and unstable supply make it a good candidate for aquaculture.
The tautog has potential for being raised to suitable market size in much less time than in nature.
Declines in natural tautog populations and its importance in the commercial and recreational fisheries suggest potential for enhancement by planting hatchery-raised tautog in selected areas.
While much is known in other countries about rearing of appropriate local marine fishes for market and/or enhancement, with the exception of salmon, little is known about appropriate species in the U.S.
NMFS is now funding projects with summer flounder, cod, haddock and salmon. The tautog provides additional diversity to be explored for aquaculture potential.
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