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Marron Farming in WA

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Matt Moran takes a visit to a marron farm in Western Australia. 

Marron is the largest freshwater crayfish in Western Australia and the third largest freshwater crayfish on Earth. Marron is endemic to the Southern Forests.

Steve Vidovich and Peter McGinty from Blue Ridge Marron have been farming marron for seventeen years. They farm the black and electric blue marron.

Get Matt Moran's delicious Crispy Marron Tails recipe here! 

Marron Farming: 
• Due to overfishing, the majority of marron today is farmed.
• There are two ways to farm marron – semi-intensive and extensive.
• Semi-intensive is where you control the depth of water, their food, oxygen levels and provide predator protection (netting over the ponds). Under this method, the marron will grow 100grams per year.
• In extensive, there are few inputs and the marron exist in farm damns under logs. Under this method, when their feeding is not controlled, they grow 50grams per year.
• They can take two - three years to reach a marketable size.
• An entrée size marron is about 100 – 250 grams.
• A full size marron can take up to twenty years to grow and can weigh between 800g – 1.5kgs.
• Peter and Steve have 15 semi-intensive ponds and 3 extensive dams.
• Once the marrons reach market size, they are harvested from the dams and graded into different sizes.
• They then spend a minimum of 48 hours in purging tanks to be cleaned
• There are several methods used to lower the marron’s temperature. They can be put into hydro shower where the temperature starts at 14C and the shower brings their temperature down slowly to 6C in about 6 hours.
• This is done by using a shower inside a cool room with the temperature set on 2C.
• Once their core temperature is approximately 6C they get packed inside a cool room into poly boxes with frozen gel packs on the bottom and 9mm damp foam inners separating the gel packs from the marron.
• Unlike lobsters, marron can survive for 5 – 6 days in a dormant state.

Facts about Marron: 
• Some Marron have been found to carry a recessive gene which produces an electric blue colour in their shell.
• To get a pure blue marron, both the female and male must carry the recessive gene, and it takes about 10 crosses.
• Despite tasting the same as other marron, the blues cost four times more.
• Marron thrive in water temperatures of 15 - 25 degrees Celsius.
• They grow by moulting. They shed their shell, exposing a larger shell that had been forming underneath. During the short time that the new shell takes to harden, marron are especially vulnerable to attack.
• During winter, when water temperatures drop below 12 degrees, marrons are less active and their growth rate slows.

Source: Peter McGinty – Executive Director at Blue Ridge Marron


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