November 30, 2017
The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.
In other Wisconsin news, Will Allen, the founder and CEO of Growing Power, an urban agriculture nonprofit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has said he will retire. Mounting debt within the organization was a factor that led to Mr. Allen’s retirement, and the status of the nonprofit remains in question. Mr. Allen received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2008 for his work in urban agriculture, and in 2012 Mr. Allen spoke at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (video). The news is a disappointment to many in the field of urban agriculture. Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Two soilless growing practices—aquaponics and hydroponics—can now carry the USDA Organic certification label. The decision came after an 8-7 vote by members of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in November. As the tight vote indicates, some NOSB members believe that farms in the Organic program must be “soil-only,” while others conclude that soilless farms meet the legal definitions and “demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances.” Opinions for and against the decision are available from Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition, in Civil Eats and Francis Thicke, a former member of the NOSB, in the Blog for Iowa. Read more general coverage at Slate and The Washington Post.
More recirculating aquaculture farms are cropping up in North America, including a ‘Namgis First Nation salmon farm in British Columbia and a planned farm in Miami, Florida. Journalist Gloria Dickie cites our recent Science Brief on net pen finfish aquaculture as a rationale for switching to recirculating aquaculture. Read more at News Deeply.
Global edible aquaculture production surpassed global wild fisheries production earlier this decade, and now the same story is unfolding in the Chesapeake Bay for oysters. Journalist Rona Kobell notes that the value of Virginia oyster aquaculture surpassed wild harvests, and Maryland aquaculture is catching up, too. A variety of factors, from declining wild oyster populations, and support for oyster aquaculture with streamlined policies, economic incentives, new technology and faster growing triploid oysters, are playing a role. Read more at the Bay Journal.
Protesters from the First Nations have stymied Marine Harvest at an Atlantic salmon production site in British Columbia, Canada. The protesters do not want the Canadian government to renew Marine Harvest’s lease when it expires in June 2018 because they feel the farm infringes on their indigenous rights and title. The company has filed an injunction with the courts to have the protesters removed. Read more at the Vancouver Sun and APTN News.
Congratulations to Dr. Thierry Chopin, professor at University of New Brunswick, who will be Knighted by his home country, France, for his research on seaweed aquaculture. Read more at CBC News.