Date of this Version
Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, Vol. 46, No. 3 June, 2015
The double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus, is considered the primary depredating bird species on commercially produced channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, in the southeastern USA. We simulated different levels of cormorant predation on losses at harvest and economic effects on channel catfish production in a multiple-batch cropping system. We observed significant (P<0.05) declines in catfish production at increasing levels of cormorant predation in this study. This decline was mitigated by increased individual growth of catfish at higher predation rates (i.e., lower catfish densities). This mitigating effect produced a non-linear relationship with total kg of catfish harvested per pond resulting in a non-linear incremental increase in breakeven price related to predation. Costs of production ($/kg) increased with increasing predation levels up to very high levels of predation with a cumulative maximum increase in breakeven price of $0.143/kg. These results indicate that losses at harvest due to cormorant predation occur immediately but are mitigated in part by compensatory growth of individual catfish. Losses due to cormorant predation in multi-batch systems can be considerable, but there is not a 1:1 relationship between losses and kg of catfish harvested due to compensatory factors.