January 23, 2017
Recirculating aquaculture is expanding in many parts of the United States and the stories below give a taste of where, how, and why this growth is taking place. In Iowa, a third-generation farming family stopped raising pigs commercially due to low market prices and converted their barn to raise barramundi, a high-value fish that has its roots in Australia. Read more at Mother Jones. In New York, a shuttered tilapia farm is being reopened under new ownership as a salmon farm. Read more at Global Aquaculture Advocate. In Virginia, Blue Ridge Aquaculture, one of the largest producers of live tilapia on the East Coast, is expanding to another location at a cost of $3.2 million and creating five new jobs. Read more at Martinsville Bulletin.
Shellfish aquaculture also has several new activities worth noting. Delaware and New Jersey have recently enabled shellfish aquaculture by streamlining the permitting process for new businesses. These stats are following in the footsteps of Maryland and other states on the East Coast that seek to expand oyster aquaculture. Read more at Cape Gazette and Press of Atlantic City.
The economic impact of aquaculture has tripled in Maine since 2007, says a new report from researchers in the state. Farmed Atlantic salmon, blue mussels, and Eastern oysters have the largest sales volumes. A large percentage of sales were made in-state to wholesalers and distributors, and to a lesser degree directly to the public. The report indicates that aquaculture operators are more likely to be employed full-time than part-time in their jobs. These findings indicate that aquaculture is an important part of Maine’s economy and local food system. Read more at Phys.org and for the full report, the University of Maine.
Following our December post about NOAA’s push to introduce offshore aquaculture, there’s been more reporting on finfish expansion in federal waters off the coast of Hawaii. Previous attempts at expanding offshore aquaculture to the Gulf of Mexico were met with criticism by environmental groups and the fishing community. Read more at The Christian Science Monitor.
Challenges in cultivating offshore finfish aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico have led Aqua Green, a large recirculating aquaculture facility, to scrap plans to breed and raise juvenile finfish and shift its focus to serving as an oyster hatchery. The project is a collaboration between Aqua Green and the University of Southern Mississippi. Read more at Fish Information and Services.
Scientists see more health risks from seafood due to climate change. Warmer oceans create more algal blooms and some algal blooms contain phytoplankton that produce the toxin domoic acid. Domoic acid is taken up by shellfish during filter feeding and can work its way up the food chain into crabs and other animals, and ultimately onto dinner plates. Read more at Market Watch.
Fish oil taken during the last trimester of pregnancy significantly reduces children’s risk of asthma. The findings have a biological basis because fish oil can reduce inflammation, but previous studies failed to show a similar association. The authors and outside experts were quick to say more work is needed to confirm the latest study—and to figure out if doctors should routinely prescribe fish oil pills to pregnant women as a means of reducing asthma risks. Read more at New York Times.
Mislabeled seafood has been widely panned as detrimental to ocean health, yet a recent report adds a new wrinkle to the conventional thinking. In some cases, mislabeled seafood (i.e. the clandestine substituted fish) may be more plentiful in the ocean or from a better conserved fishery. One downside—that the authors do not mention—is that mislabelling prevents consumers from knowing where their food comes from, and prevents feedback loops that can modify future supply or product quality. Read more at University of Washington.