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Bahamas Certified Seafood Inc (BCS) is a Florida Corporation engaged in commercial stone crab fishing on the Bahamas Banks and in shortly will begin the construction and subsequent operation of a stone crab aquaculture farms on the islands of the Bahamas. BCS has secured the permanent rights to certain patent pending technologies making the BCS farm the "first of its kind" anywhere in the world. The farm system will use "patented" technologies both to grow and to harvest stone crabs.

Support for stone crab farming taken from the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society

Mass-culture experiments of stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) were successfully performed in 1970. Ovigerous female stone crabs were obtained from traps set in Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida. The females were held separately in indoor aquaria. A maximum of 10 ovipositions (spawnings) within one inter-molt phase were observed for a single female over a 120-day period. During this period, the embryonic duration of the eggs was approximately 10 days at temperatures of 29 to 30 C, and the period between larval hatching and the female's next oviposition was 2 to 3 days.

The duration of the larval period (five zoeal stages and one megalopal stage) was 14 days at temperatures ranging between 30.5 and 32.0 C, with salinity in excess of 30 ppt; 18 days were required at temperatures ranging from 28.0 to 30.0 C in the same salinity range. The time requirements in mass culture were found to be greatly reduced compared with individual compartment culture methods, which normally would take 20 to 21 days. Experiments using two different filtered seawater media were performed. In one, seawater was filtered through a 165 μ mesh screen; in the second seawater was filtered through a fine dacron wool filter. Results were similar. Initial larval culture media was stabilized by adding Chlorella to the culture seawater. The early zoeae were fed with separately cultured rotifers (Branchionus plicatilis) and Artemia nauplii. Only Artemia nauplii were provided for the late zoeal stages. The food for megalopae and juveniles was chopped fish and squid. To reduce cannibalism in the megalopal stages a screen-ring was installed. This screen also provided a good substratum for settling. The maximum young crab yield was about 360 second-stage crabs in a 200 1 plastic container, and 960 second-stage crabs in a 600 1 capacity wooden tank. The best survival rate from hatching to the first crab stage was about 9%. Mortality occurred primarily in the magalopal stage. A promising future for stone crab culture is indicated from the growth rates obtained beyond the juvenile crab stage. Individuals reared separately in the indoor aquaria showed rapid growth. The most rapidly growing individual reached a carapace length of 9.1 cm and a weight of 236 g in 7 months from hatching. Approximately 10 molts are required to reach this size from the first crab stage. The color pattern of the cultured crab was noticeably different from that found in nature.

Stone crabs have been a popular and principal commercial fishery in Florida for many years. Recently, there have been significant reductions in Floridian catch, as well as an increase in fishing pressure for the crabs in the Bahamas, where they now represent the fourth largest fishery. With growing commercial demand and the arrival of new commercial export pressure in the Bahamas, stone crab trapping in the Bahamas may soon increase. Though the fishery is presumed to be sustainable, little is documented about the stone crabs in The Bahamas. Critical in our operations is the construction and operation of a state of the art hatchery and research facility. The BCS hatchery and research operations will be operated by Dr Hector Cruz Lopez of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission along with other world renown scientist in crustacean research. Dr Cruz Lopez has been employed by the FWC for over 29 years. He coordinates the agency’s Fish and Wildlife Forensics Program. His laboratory conducts and coordinates examination of biological and some physical evidence in support of law enforcement investigations related to violations of the Florida Wildlife Codes. He is recognized as an expert in court in the area of wildlife forensics, marine forensics, and underwater crime scene investigations. He is considered one of the leading authorities on the subject of stone crabs.

Position concerning viability as stated by Dr Hector Cruz-Lopez

I have been an oceanographer for the past 36 years and a research scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the past 29. My area of specialty is marine invertebrates. I accepted the offer to join this venture because I believe it has a great chance of success based in scientific merit. After analyzing the reasons and problems of other attempts to grow and raise stone crabs, assembled a team to tackle the problems at hand. This operation is going to succeed because we have identified and addressed the limitations faced by groups that attempted to hatch and raise these animals without the proper background and biology, applying conventional hatchery methods that do not take into consideration the diverse biology and ecology of this crab. Further, this effort takes into consideration and addresses conservation, monitoring, and improvement of the fisheries in its natural environment, for which is very attractive to conservation biology efforts and the Government of the Bahamas. I am very proud to be part of this operation and remain accessible if you have additional questions. ---- Sincerely, Hector Cruz-Lopez, PhD

Stone crabs and crab meat in general, are currently in high demand, not only in the United States but throughout the world. The retail price for fresh, large stone crabs in the US has reached an all time high with large crabs being sold retail in seafood markets for over $60 a pound. The reflects a 2015 price of over $23 -$25 price per pound to purchase the large & jumbo crabs from the fishing boat.

A most significant fact in our commercial boat fishing venture, is that the stone crabs have experienced a limited commercial harvest in the Bahamas. The primary reason for this low harvest of stone crabs, is that the stone crab season coincides with the crawfish (Florida Spiny Lobster) season. Crawfish tails or Florida lobster tails have traditionally been the number one economic income for Bahamians in the out islands. Also significant is the fact that is the last three years, Stone crab prices have risen to the all time high level it is today. Traditionally market demand and prices have been higher for the lobster tails harvested in the Bahamas. The Bahamian fishermen currently only have lobster condos which are very different than crab traps. The cost of crab traps are a substantial investment. Because of this, the Bahamian commercial fisherman's transition to trapping stone crabs hasn't occurred. Since by law, only Bahamians are permitted to fish the Bahamas banks, contracted Bahamian captains and crews, as well as local outside commercial fisherman will fill the role as the "Bahamian Fisherman". in our commercial boat fishing operations.

Long Term Plan

It is the long term plan to build an expansive aquaculture operation on Andros, as well as other islands, to farm stone crabs commercially. The farming will be done using proprietary patent pending technology never before implemented in the aquaculture industry. The farm will not only initially supply stone crabs to the "fresh" stone crab market but to also produce a NEW frozen crab claw product for the supermarket and restaurant industry. This new stone crab product will be a "flash frozen" bulk pack claw that can be defrosted and served at a quality almost as high as the fresh stone crab. We have also had discussions with many of the crab cake manufacturers concerning supplying them "picked" crab meat and pasteurized crab products for their products. 

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