A lobster farm generally raises and breeds lobsters which are then sold commercially for human consumption. Production usually begins with raising juvenile lobsters into adulthood. The adults are bred and sold while the next generation of lobsters replenishes the stock. Lobster farmers typically reside along warm coastal areas or in locations having large bodies of water. The industry is common in Vietnam and Cambodia along with some Middle Eastern countries and Australia.
Lobster farmers residing along ocean coasts may build lobster pens along the shoreline. Bamboo poles provide the corner foundations of the pen which is primarily constructed of nets. The enclosure usually encompasses around 215 square feet (20 square m). Lobster farm pens of this size may contain up to 200 fingerlings, or young lobsters, averaging 1.5 to 2.75 inches (4 to 7 cm) in length. Instead of pens, some lobster farmers use wooden floating or fixed cages located in a central area.
Others may use submerged wire mesh cages. The size of these containers varies but farmers usually allow 10 square feet (1 square m) per 10 growing lobsters. The water in the cages replicates the lobster's natural environment, having the appropriate salinity and temperature. Certain lobster farm operations involve specially constructed, pond-like environments on land.
Land based lobster farm ponds typically have salinity levels of 1% to 1.2%. These ponds must be fortified with calcium which the lobsters require for maintaining a hard shell. Lobsters are air breathing creatures, and the lobster farming ponds generally receive mechanical aeration. The water is also maintained at the proper temperature and cleaned periodically for disease prevention. The lobsters typically receive ground-up scrap fish and other sea life as food.
Commercial fishermen usually provide a lobster farm with spiny lobster seed, or wildstock. Having aggressive, territorial dispositions, only lobsters of similar size are grown in the same area. Females are usually separated from the population and kept in special containers. Eggs are carried under her tail until they hatch.
The offspring remain in captivity until old enough to survive in pens or ponds. Warm water lobsters mature in about two years. Cold water lobsters require five to seven years to achieve the proper size and weight. Maturity levels vary around the world. American markets require that mature lobsters weigh at least 1 pound (453 g), while some Asian countries prefer smaller lobsters.
Lobster harvesting generally involves carefully removing live, mature lobsters with nets. The lobsters are then placed in containers of seawater until packaged. Lobstering packages typically contain seawater soaked materials and ice, which keep the lobster alive and cool.