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INDEX Aquaculture Magazine Volume 40 Number 5 October - November 2014


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Blue Ridge Aquaculture Story


RESEARCH report Periphytic natural food as replacement of commercial food in organic tilapia aquaculture.


report Crab farming.


report Rabobank Report on the Salmon Industry.


Report Mexico becomes a Big World Market in Shrimp Imports for the first time in 2014.


Note Award of Excellence Presented to Dr. Steven T. Summerfelt.


Note Aquaculture must double by 2050.


report A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.





Improving access to financial services by small-scale aquaculture producers. Is aquaculture the key to the North Atlantic cod fisheries’ rescue?



Marel Salmon ShowHow: It’s All About Salmon.


BAADER 2801 Crab Butcher.


Partnership Between Marel and Marine Harvest.

ASIAN report


Aquaculture to boom off Western Australia’s northern coast.


The Institution of Aquaculture in Singapore.

Columns SALMONIDS .............................................................................58 FEED REPORT .............................................................................60 Aquaculture Engineering .........................................................................62 Marine Finfish Aquaculture.......................................................................66 THE Shellfish CORNER ...............................................................................68 NUTRITION ...............................................................................70 Genetics and Breeding ..............................................................................72 Upcoming events advertisers Index

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Volume 40 Number 5 October- November 2014 Editor and Publisher Salvador Meza / Editor in Chief Greg Lutz / Managing Editor Mina Coronado / Editorial Design Francisco Cibrián / Designer Perla E. Neri Orozco / International Sales and Marketing Steve Reynolds / Business Operation Manager Adriana Zayas Subscriptions: Design Publications International Inc. 203 S. St. Mary’s St. Ste. 160 San Antonio, TX 78205, USA Office: +210 229-9036 Office in Mexico: (+52) (33) 3632 2355 Aquaculture Magazine (ISSN 0199-1388) is published bimontly, by Design Publications International Inc. All rights reserved. Follow us:

Editors By C. Greg Lutz



hat is really going on out there in the world of aquaculture? In spite of declines and setbacks, there is still a lot going on right here in the USA. Even a few success stories! And, if we are willing to take the time to see what’s going on elsewhere, say in Asia, Europe or Latin America, we may be able to glean some valuable lessons and ideas. From Australia to Mexico to Virginia, USA, there are stories that provide inspiration, and others that serve as warnings in terms of unexpected catastrophes. A more fundamental question might be: what IS “aquaculture?” If you are like me, I’m sure you get that question from time to time. And, of course, there is no simple answer. In this issue we try to address everything from crab culture in open ponds (some of them get their very own personal condominiums) to intensive indoor recirculating production. It’s sometimes difficult to explain what “aquaculture” is without oversimplifying, because we work in a very diverse realm in terms of species, production systems, and markets.

However one chooses to explain it, we are told repeatedly that aquaculture production must double to help meet the world’s requirements for protein… but how can that happen? Will policy makers eventually begin to realize that many forms of aquaculture provide the most sustainable pathways in terms of feed conversion, or water and soil conservation, or protection of wild fisheries and endangered species? How will they even get that kind of information, especially when advocacy groups have tagged “aquaculture” (whatever that is…) as an easy target when their fund-raising campaigns need an industry to play the role of the villain? Aquaculture really IS a promising way to meet demands for environmentally friendly food production, and those demands will only become more urgent in the coming decades. Perhaps the advantages will eventually become obvious to policy makers and the public, or will come to the forefront simply through economic pressures as the costs of feed components increase. Sources of capital are once again looking at “aquaculture” as a potentially profitable investment.

Many observers feel aquaculture will have a bright future, in the course of our lifetimes. Aquaculture represents many things, even among those of us who practice it. But there are some constants as well. Most of our industries face the same struggles. Diseases can appear out of nowhere and decimate farms or large segments of entire industries. Be they simple or complex, production systems rely on controlling the same natural cycling of nutrients to convert inputs into marketable products. While making a profit, by the way. Basic concepts like dealing with Nitrogen, or the fundamentals of nutritional requirements, are important for all producers to become familiar with. As always, we try to present a mix of interesting topics you might not have been aware of, along with the basic principles that all of us need to learn, and re-learn, from time to time. Write to us anytime at editorinchief@ Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.




Periphytic natural food

as replacement of commercial food in organic tilapia aquaculture In organic cultures, where no hormones are used, large amounts of wild spawning might occur and biomass would be higher than expected; in such cases, periphyton could compensate for the artificial food By Ana Milstein, Alon Naor, Assaf Barki, and Sheenan Harpaz*


he cost of food constitutes one of the most expensive components of the operating costs of aquaculture production. This is even more pronounced in organic aquaculture due to its specific requirements. The introduction of hard surfaces into the water column of fish ponds induces the growth of bio-films and periphyton (a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotrophic microbes,

Substrates in the filled pond.

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Aquaculture Magazine

reduction rates.

and detritus attached to submerged surfaces) on them, which provides more food for cultured organisms. In periphyton-based aquaculture systems, stocking density has to be low enough to allow recovery of grazed periphyton and high enough to allow an economically viable aquaculture business. Thus, this technology is applicable in extensive and low density semi-intensive systems, including organic aquaculture.

The present article summarizes the results obtained during five years of research, where two approaches were simultaneously estudied. In the first one, food pellet ingredients that comply with organic regulations were tested as components of food pellets for organic tilapia culture. The second approach included experiments in periphyton-based conditions, aimed at improving natural food production for tilapia in the ponds while concomitantly reducing the amounts of added food.

Materials and methods Five specific experiments were carried out in 6-12 earthen ponds of a 300 m2 area and water depth of 1 m at the Fish and Aquaculture Research Station Dor, with the tilapia hybrid Oreochromis aureus x Oreochromis niloticus. The different specific experiments tested tilapia performance in “periphyton + reduced feed” ponds (Periphyton) in relation to conventional (Control) ponds, for tilapia at different stocking sizes utilizing different substrates for periphyton development.

Instalation of substrates in the empty pond.

The treatments consisted of the addition of underwater surfaces equivalent to 30-50% of the pond surface area, while simultaneously reducing the amount of pelleted food supplied to the fish by 30-40%. The substrates used and their location in the water column varied in each experiment. Except for the nursery experiment (experiment 2) in which only tilapia was stocked, in all other experiments a polyculture system was used. Fish stocked consisted of 8592% hybrid tilapia in combination with small quantities of grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), silver carp (Hypophthalmychthys molitrix) and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus). In each specific experiment the initial stocking weight of the tilapia individuals varied (from fingerlings to advanced juveniles), but the fish in all ponds in the same experiment had the same initial weight and density. Experiments lasted 3-5 months. Three experiments were carried out in 1 m3 cage placed in the tilapia culture pond, to test the growth of periphyton on materials with different characteristics. Strips of substrates were vertically placed in the epilimnion without touching or shad-

ing each other. Each sub-set of substrates contained triplicates of each substrate tested. Measurements were all standardized on a cm2 basis. In all experiments, periphyton was collected to determine chlorophyll-a (methanol extract technique), dry matter (DM) and organic matter as ash free dry matter (AFDM) (weight of matter remaining after drying at 105°C and after burning at 550°C, respectively). Data were analyzed using ANOVA. Differences between

treatment levels were tested with the Scheffe mean multi-comparison tests, using a significance level of P < 0.05.

Results Results of the five fish culture experiments are shown on Table 1. In each experiment there were no significant survival differences between treatments. In the periphyton ponds, providing 40% less food did not negatively affect fingerling performance in the nursery.

Substrates at harvesting time - water partially removed.

Aquaculture Magazine




In early juveniles grow-out (90 350 g) and advanced grow-out (320 - 520 g), providing 40% less food led to a reduction of only 10% in tilapiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growth rate in relation to the control ponds. This growth rate reduction did not result in significant differences between treatments in tilapia harvest weight and biomass when the culture period was short (87 days, experiment 3), while it did differ by 10% when the tilapia culture period was significantly longer (135 days; experiment 1). In the last two experiments, substrate material was placed only in the epilimnion and more food was supplied to the periphyton ponds. Under these conditions, even after a long culture period tilapia growth rate was not reduced and their performance was similar in periphyton ponds and in control ponds. In all the experiments similar or only 10% reduced tilapia performance together with the 30%-40% decrease in food amounts supplied to the periphyton ponds led to at least 30% improved food conversion ratio (FCR) in the studied periphyton ponds. Results of the first substrate experiment, testing periphyton growth on eight substrates of different texture, and of the second experiment, testing the effect of the color of the substrate on periphyton development on it, were reported in detail. In the first experiment the amount of periphytic matter (measured as DM and AFDM) on fine nets more than doubled that on coarse nets, which in turn about doubled the amount that developed on smooth plastic substrates. Chlorophyll was 60% higher on the fine mesh round thread net substrate compared with the coarse mesh flat thread net and the white flexible smooth surface plastic sheets, while other rough and smooth substrates were intermediate and not significantly different from either. The second experiment showed that the color of the substrate did not affect the chlorophyll content of 6 Âť

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periphyton but did affect its dry and organic matter content. The white substrate had 40% more DM and 50% more AFDM than the blue and black substrates. In the third experiment, linear growth of periphyton on a white rigid plastic net substrate was observed (Fig. 1). The regression lines of the chlorophyll, DM and AFDM calculated on the time scale (number of days submerged) were:

2 g DM and 0.3 g AFDM / m2 of substrate.

Discussion The provision of substrates to increase periphyton development as natural food for herbivorous and omnivorous aquaculture organisms has been tested with positive results in a range of species, culture systems and environments. Studies conducted in fish ponds comparing the effect of food supply versus periphyton, found Chlorophyll (mg/m2) = 2.97 day - 5.99 that the provision of substrates can DM (g/m2) = 1.98 day + 5.24 reduce the need for artificial food and AFDM (g/m2) = 0.31 day + 7.64 can be an alternative to commercial food in the culture of herbivorous The first two regressions had fish and prawn. This approach can be coefficients of determination r2 = an ideal alternative in resource-limit0.98, and that of AFDM r2 = 0.63. ed regions in Asia, Africa and Latin The equations show that periphyton America, where small-scale rural tilaincreased daily by 3 mg chlorophyll, pia culture is commonly practiced.

Results show that at least under the low tilapia density required in organic aquaculture, the use of substrates in the water body in an amount equivalent to 40-50% to the pond surface allowed a 30-40% reduction in food, with none or only slightly negative effects on the tilapia performance. Since the price of food ingredients is increasing worldwide, the implementation of periphyton-based aquaculture would save both food and money in tilapia organic culture. The partial substitution of food by periphyton allowed a sustainable more intensive fish production and can also be appropriate in conventional tilapia culture. Another advantage of the periphyton technology is the reduction of economic losses when something might go wrong.

In organic cultures, hormones are not used for sex reversal, large amounts of wild spawning might occur. To cope with this problem a predator fish can be stocked. If large amounts of wild spawning occur in spite of the predator fish presence in the pond, tilapia biomass will be higher than expected, hence feeding rate will be lower than planned, competition for food will increase and tilapia performance will be reduced. This occurred in experiment 5; however, the periphyton that developed on the provided substrates compensated for 30% artificial food reduction, which can be considered as a 30% reduction of economic losses. The third substrate experiment was done to evaluate the potential of periphyton supply to fish and to estimate

the amount of substrate required to have effect on tilapia growth. Thus, periphyton growth rate was measured at short intervals in the absence of grazing fish. This was done in near surface waters where most of periphyton development takes place. The measured periphyton growth of about 2 g DM/m2/day in summer in the third substrate experiment provides a rough estimation of the amount of substrate required to supply food at different rates and different biomass of tilapias (Table 2). Thus, to supply food at a rate of 0.5% of tilapia biomass per day, 2.5 m2 of substrate / tilapia kg in the pond are required. For an organic fish farmer, a 10% saving in the feed costs, reached with the addition of substrates, is an important achievement. Besides, recycled substrate materials can be cheap but can include discarded plastic pieces. The use of discarded agriculture shade nets, plastic feed sacks and other such materials (as in experiment 4) requires anchoring them in place when exposed to wind, otherwise it is not appropriate for re-use in the next culture cycle. Some labor is required to install the substrates, yet, if they are strong enough and can be reused in the following culture cycles they do not have to be removed from the pond. Substrates can be tied to poles stacked into the pond bottom (in shallow ponds) or hung from ropes fastened to the banks (in shallow or deep ponds). Considering that most periphyton development occurs in the epilimnion, the proper vertical installation of the substrates, only in the upper half meter of the water column would save material and money. Between the substrates there should be enough space for the fish to swim.

*Original article: Milstein, Ana1; Naor Alon1; Barki, Assaf1; and Harpaz, Sheenan1. Utilization of periphytic natural food as partial replacement of commercial food in organic tilapia culture â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an overview. 1 Agricultural Research Organization, Fish and Aquaculture Research Station, Israel.

Aquaculture Magazine




Crab farming By C. Greg Lutz*

Clearly, there are many types of crabs throughout the world â&#x20AC;&#x201C; roughly 6,700 by some counts.


everal decades ago the common wisdom was that crabs, in general, were too aggressive and cannibalistic to culture at densities high enough to be profitable. This behavior was viewed as a constraint not only during growout, but also in the hatchery, where crabs must develop through a series of zoeal and megalopal stages. However, some species are more adaptable to aquaculture than others, and a few species have come to stand out as major contributors to farm harvests in a number of Asian countries.

Mud Crabs Mud crab culture is probably the most well-documented form of crab farming. Four major species are found in farming operations throughout Asia, including Scylla serrata, S. tranquebarica, S. paramamosain and S. olivacea. They have been heavily fished for many decades, and in recent years methods for their hatchery production and commercial grow-out have developed in response to high market prices for live product. Mud crabs can be found in warm coastal waters throughout the Indo-Pacific region. 8 Âť

Top view mud crab. Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of:

Early efforts at mud crab farming relied on collection of juvenile crabs from the wild, but more reliable and sustainable alternatives are now available. Hatchery methods for mud crabs are fairly straightforward, and larvae can be produced under very practical circumstances. Broodstock are selected based on their overall health (activity, intact limbs, weight, color of ovaries), disinfected (often with a formalin solution), and placed in tanks to acclimate to hatchery conditions. Less-mature females may be ablated, as is done in commercial

shrimp hatcheries, in order to hasten the maturation process. Females usually lay their eggs within several weeks, and carry them under their abdomen as they develop. During this time, they should be well fed. Depending on size and species, females typically produce between 0.4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 5.0 million zoeae per spawn. Newly hatched zoeae are usually reared on rotifers until they are large enough to take Artemia. As they transition to megalopae, they will begin to accept feeds such as minced fish, shrimp and mussel. It typically takes over 50 days

Culture of mud crab, Scylla serrata in Myanmar. Photo courtesy of:

to produce juvenile crabs that are ready for stocking. Development of suitable hatchery methods for mud crabs has been a step-by-step, trial and error process, similar to those observed for other aquatic species. One problem in the hatchery involves moult death syndrome (MDS). This syndrome involves mass mortality during metamorphosis from the last zoeal stage to the megalopal stage. Accelerated development during the zoeal stages, as evidenced by abnormally advanced morphological features such as larger than normal chelae, seems to be associated with MDS. Since prior research indicated that this type of accelerated development is associated with excess dietary n-3HUFA fatty acids, researchers in Japan investigated the influence of dietary n-3HUFA and salinity on the development and survival of mud crab larvae. They found that although larvae successfully developed at salinities ranging from 20 parts up to 35 parts, highest survivals occurred at 20-25 parts. They also found that when larvae were fed high levels of fatty acids, at high salinities MDS resulted. Âť



Mitten Crab. Photo courtesy of

One persistent problem with hatchery-supported mud crab aquaculture involves the nursery phase of production. A nursery phase is necessary to bridge the gap between the size of animals leaving the hatchery and the size required for grow-out to market size. Density, nutrition, and overall survival rates must be balanced in order to maximize returns. Researchers in China found that when megalopae were stocked at 3,000 to 5,000 individuals / m2, survival to first stage crabs was as high as 50%. When these first-stage crabs were stocked at 2,000 to 3,000

/ m2, survival exceeded 50% after two weeks, at which time cannibalism becomes less of a constraint. Considering the number of larvae a mud crab hatchery can produce, these are pretty impressive results in terms of production volume. These researchers developed a system wherein each nursery pond, constructed of cement with a sand and clay mixture spread over the bottom, was connected to a smaller pond dedicated for seed collection at harvest time. As is often done in extensive shrimp ponds, shallow channels in the soil sloped down to the


Zoea (four stages)



Adult Courtesy of

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drain area, allowing juvenile crabs to congregate there as water levels were gradually lowered. This system proved very useful in minimizing labor and handling during harvest, and facilitated collection and packing for transport to grow-out facilities. Mud crabs are grown in extensive open ponds, intensive ponds and in polyculture with other species. Some are even grown in their own individual cages. At harvest, live crabs have been worth USD$10 - 12/kg in recent years. Whole, intact specimens are generally sent to large urban markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore, although damaged crabs are usually sold through other market channels.

Mitten Crab Another crab of interest for aquaculture is the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis. These crabs are the basis for both capture and culture harvests totaling up to 500,000 tons annually. Because it is so prized and appreciated, this species has been transported to all parts of the world, and occasionally released into new waters. One problem in the culture of mitten crabs involves early maturation, or precocity. When this happens, growth slows significantly or stops altogether. Survival also declines rapidly. In wild populations, precocity rates are estimated at 5% 10%, but in cultured populations they can range from 20% to almost 100%. To address this problem, a study was conducted to examine the impacts of light intensity on growth and precocity in mitten crabs. Research found that highly reduced lighting tended to suppress growth in terms of weight gain per molt. Intermediate light levels, however, did not significantly reduce growth while significantly reducing precocity (15.5% as compared to 26.1% for natural light levels). Mitten crabs are typically cultured in open ponds, with little or no aeration available. High stocking levels and heavy feeding can result in severe diurnal fluctuations in oxygen. A group of researchers from Shanghai Ocean

University studied the impacts of low oxygen on mitten crabs, and found that hemocyte counts decreased significantly after a 24 hour exposure to low oxygen levels, and other changes took place in the hemolymph and hepatopancreas tissue. Overall, as would be expected, exposure to low oxygen had a negative impact on immune physiology and metabolic processes. This highlights the need for adoption of more intensive technology as crab culture develops.

European Shore Crab Although this species is a native of Europe and Northern Africa, it has invaded coastal areas on every continent except Antarctica. In North America, the distribution of introduced populations of green crabs (Carcinus maenas) now extends from Newfoundland to Virginia and from British Columbia to California. In contrast, in many parts of its native range, commercial fisheries for the green crab for human consumption and bait have severely reduced its abundance. Although laboratory methods for culturing green crab larvae have been established since the late-1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, mass production of juveniles has not yet been commercial-

Pile of crabs. Photo courtesy of:

ized. A group of scientists in the UK recently reported on their efforts to develop hatchery protocols for this species. One result was that including rotifers as live food for early larval stages did not significantly improve survival or development compared to a diet of only Artemia nauplii. When

zoeal stocking density was increased from 94 to 557/ l, survival to the megalopa stage declined from 75% to 47% but production increased to 260 megalopae / l. Megalopae were completely benthic, and the presence of substrate had no influence on production or rate of development. Higher densities of megalopae resulted in reduced survival, but this relationship decreased once densities of 10,000 / m2 were reached. Maximum production of juvenile crabs (3,114 / m2) occurred at stocking densities of 40,000 / m2.

Some crab species are more adaptable to aquaculture than others, and a few species have come to stand out as major contributors to farm harvests in some countries. Shore crab (carcinus maenas). Photo courtesy of:

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Swimming Crabs Swimming crabs can be found in most parts of the world. Perhaps the most familiar representative of this group in the US is the blue crab, a mainstay of Chesapeake Bay and Gulf Coast cuisine. However, similar species are found in many Asian nations, and aquaculture methods for these animals are the focus of many researchers and entrepreneurs. The blue swimming crab, Portunus trituberculatus, is found in Japan, Korea and China, and is an excellent example of the state of the art in swimming crab culture. More than two decades ago, hatchery technology was developed for this species in order to release millions of juveniles for stock enhancement. However, early attempts at culturing this species under controlled conditions met with little success, mainly due to problems with cannibalism and a limited growing season. Since natural spawning peaks in July and August, only a few months are available for growth before winter temperatures set in. To remedy this constraint, techniques were developed to allow for

Crab aquaculture focuses mainly on mud crab, mitten crab, European Shore Crab, and Swimming crabs.

earlier spawning which in turn allows for a longer season. Females are collected in January and February, and maturation and spawning are artificially induced in the hatchery. Females are held in large tanks (10 – 50 m2) and fed natural feeds (worms and mollusks), with a 50% water exchange each day. Maturation is accelerated by maintaining a 15L:9D photoperiod and by unilateral eyestalk ablation, as is practiced in shrimp hatcheries. Spawning occurs in April, with females generally producing eggs within a few weeks. A large female (500 g or more) can be expected to lay between 1.5 and 2 million eggs. Once egg masses are well-developed, females are placed in individual tanks and when the larvae hatch, the female is removed. Larvae are typically cultured at densities of 50,000 –

Shrimp pond preparation. Photo courtesy of:

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100,000 / m3, and they pass through four zoeal stages and one megalopal stage. Early zoeae consume rotifers while later stages will accept newlyhatched Artemia. Megalopeae are fed ground mollusks. Artificial feeds are also being used in some hatcheries. Even in the larval stages, these animals are highly cannibalistic, so heavy aeration and substrates such as fishing nets are provided. Young crabs are ready for stocking by June. By this time they have molted once or twice after metamorphosis from the megalopal stage. They are generally about 1 cm across when they leave the hatchery. This leaves time for nursery culture (optional: in cages during the first 2 3 weeks) and four or more months of grow-out. Stocking densities in ponds are typically 10 / m2, although culture methods are becoming more intensified. Natural feeds are provided, such as ground mollusks, shrimp and trash fish, but artificial feeds are becoming more common. Aeration is common, since dissolved oxygen (DO) levels should be above 4.0 ppm to promote growth. This requires a power source, since 8 - 10 hp / ha is usually required to maintain these conditions. Harvests begin in late August, when males are selectively removed. This is because any males that attempt to mate will tend to die shortly thereafter. Females continue to grow and gain weight, and most are sold between September and December. Market prices for this species depend on the season, but can range from USD$25 – 40 / kg. As mentioned previously, a very similar species of crab is found in the U.S., and efforts to culture our blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, have been un-

dertaken from time to time. Laboratory methods for culturing larvae are fairly well worked out, but mass production is another story altogether. One high-profile initiative involved a series of studies at the University of Maryland’s Center of Marine Biotechnology. Although many initially felt the project could lead to production of market-size crabs to reduce pressure on wild populations, the emphasis was ultimately focused on producing juveniles to stock into natural waters supposedly for stock enhancement. From 2002 through 2008, the project received a reported USD$12.7 million in earmarked federal funding. At the time, project leaders touted the effort as one of the first of its kind in the world, although success had already been achieved with the blue swimming crab on the other side of the planet. Additional funding was also obtained from other sources, but considering that the project released 215,000 crabs in 2007, the investment of taxpayers’ funds at that point in time equated to roughly USD$59.07 per juvenile crab. At the time, researchers with the program stated that it would be necessary to stock between 6 mil-

Soft shell Crab (Myeik) United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

lion and 16 million crabs to have any positive impact on the natural breeding stocks in the Chesapeake Bay. Federal funding for the project was cut in 2008. As is often the case in aquaculture, no matter how much investment is made in technology, salaries and travel to scientific conferences, if the

numbers don’t work in the real world you’re just wasting money. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, it’s often someone else’s money. But from a global perspective, significant progress is being made in crab culture, with notable accomplishments in terms of production and economic impacts.

* Greg Lutz has a PhD in Aquaculture and Quantitative Genetics by the Louisiana State University. He’s Aquaculture Magazine’s Editor in Chief.

Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus). Photo courtesy of Virgina Institute of Marine Science

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Blue Ridge Aquaculture Story By Greg Lutz

This is the story of one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest producers of tilapia using indoor recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).


The early days rom 1988 through 1991, an indoor recirculating aquaculture facility in Martinsville, Virginia (USA) known as Blue Ridge Fisheries produced and processed catfish. This pioneering business was not successful in overcoming flaws in the design of the recirculating systems, nor in the particularities of channel catfish, and eventually ceased operations.

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Nonetheless, several key personnel at Blue Ridge had not given up on the concept of an industrial scale indoor fish farm. Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Inc. was founded in 1993 with plans to produce tilapia, using the existing facility. Many of the same investors from Blue Ridge Fisheries participated in its formation, and a newer, stronger company emerged with redesigned equipment and processes tailored to the new production

species. After modifying the 100,000 square foot facility, Blue Ridge Aquaculture began producing tilapia in 1993. As has been the case in many, if not most, recirculating production facilities, in the following years Blue Ridge experienced a series of disease problems that threatened to shut down operations. However, in contrast to the typical experience of indoor fish farming ventures, after implementing a strict bio-secure program and operating with a culture of disease prevention, the company has been able to operate disease-free for the past 14 years. By 2002, Blue Ridge Aquaculture was operating as a fully integrated system, including broodstock selection and maintenance, hatchery/ nursery operations, growout and distribution of live tilapia. At the time it was producing around two million pounds (907 tons) ot filapia per year. Over the next 5 years the company focused on improving its profit margins, concentrating on consistent quality, ensuring

reliability of supply and establishing a stable market share. By 2007 the company had doubled production, and revenues.

Current situation Blue Ridge employs approximately 30 people and is currently the world’s largest producer of tilapia using indoor recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). To date, the company has been in continuous operation for nearly twenty years and in that time it has produced over 22,000 metric tons of tilapia (whole fish equivalents). Annual production is roughly 4 million pounds (1,814 tons) of tilapia, with between 10,000-20,000 pounds (4.5-9 tons) of live fish harvested every day. The company prides itself on the fact that all its fish are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones, and are free of mercury (undetectable levels from independent studies) and other industrial pollutants. Performance measures, including growth rates, production densities, Feed Conversion Ratios, and survival are all

impressive by any measure. They understand the negative effects of stress on the animals and strive to maintain ideal environmental conditions for optimal and efficient growth. The company focuses on the sale of live fish to distributors in major metropolitan markets in the NorthEast such as New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Traditional consumers are primarily Asian and Hispanic-American individuals with a cultural preference for live seafood. Blue Ridge’s management team estimates that BRA currently controls approximately 20% of the domestic

market for live tilapia. To adequately service these markets, and assure more control within the value chain, transportation logistics are critical to the company’s operations. A wholly owned subsidiary company dedicated to the distribution of live product was formed, known as Rolling River Live Haul. This subsidiary allows delivery of an uninterrupted supply of live tilapia daily to live fish distributors in major metropolitan markets on the East Coast and Canada. Rolling River Live Haul makes it possible for Blue Ridge to have total control of its marketing chain.

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Human Capital The driving force behind Blue Ridge, since its inception and in all aspects, is William R. Martin, Jr. – known to friends and foes alike simply as “Bill.” He is currently the company’s President and CEO. His longstanding successful career in aquaculture, while overcoming medical problems and all the adversity associated with trying to establish an industry that few understood and even fewer put much stock in, can be attributed to perseverance. Or stubbornness, depending on your vernacular. Martin is a member of multiple US aquaculture organizations including the Board for the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), where he previously served as CoChair, and the National Aquaculture Association (NAA). He has served on the Board of Directors for the Southern Regional Aquaculture Association (SRAC) as well as Vice-Chair for the Virginia Marine Products Board. He is also Chairman of the Board, and a Founding Member of the US Aquaculture Coop. The guy who makes everything work at Blue Ridge is Rocky Holley, a gentleman who has overseen the development and growth of Blue Ridge’s operations since the inception of the company. As a result, of course, he has extensive experience in facilities design, facilities management, construction, electrical systems and plumbing. His focus continues to be on improving operational efficiencies. Key personnel also include professionals working with financial and operational management, reporting and business development, marketing, fish health, broodstock management, hatchery operations, growout operations and biosecurity. The company produces 15 million fry per year on site and subsequently grades and selects fingerlings up to a size of 30 g. New posts involve design and development of systems for recirculating production of shrimp, including management and operation of shrimp 16 »

broodstock, hatchery, and algae production areas. Blue Ridge views its workforce as an asset and an advantage, which is reflected in the benefits program it offers. As the company has become increasingly successful with predictable margins, it has been able to reward employees accordingly. The company has a strong health insurance program for qualified employees, a profit-sharing program and pay rates well above the regional average. Currently, employees hold over 50% ownership in the company, and that portion is expected to increase steadily in the coming years.

The Fish The company raises nearly four million pounds (1,815 tons) of tilapia each year at its 100,000 square foot facility in Martinsville, Virginia. An estimated 75,000 pounds (34 tons) of live tilapia are shipped from the facility to markets each week, and all of the company’s tilapia are bred, born, and grown in biosecure environments on site. Blue Ridge utilizes continuous selection for growth, coloration, shape and tolerance to stressors. Fish are uniformly silvery-white in color, very fast growing, round-bodied and highly domesticated. In fact, the fish are so tolerant of human activities that many fish will let you lift them gently by hand until they are completely out of the water. New Horizons Virginia Shrimp Farms is an integral component of the company’s strat-

egy for the future. As shrimp is the top seafood species consumed in the U.S., in Bill Martin’s world view it represents the largest potential market for expanding high-value recirculating aquaculture. Virginia Shrimp Farms hopes to capitalize on the many issues affecting the current supply to consumers throughout the country. Since it is accessible to major metropolitan areas in the Eastern U.S., distribution to major markets and independent growers should be fairly efficient, according to the business model. Blue Ridge is committed to the success of Virginia Shrimp Farms, and has designated this project as a major priority in terms of R&D resources. The 30,000 square foot facility was completed in 2007, and includes state of the art equipment and infrastructure necessary to develop production technologies for various species. It includes dedicated space for growout systems, a hatchery and nursery room, broodstock tanks and laboratories. Growout systems include nine independent recirculating systems, each with three separate tanks and filtration, allowing for testing of multiple variables. Nursery and hatchery rooms contain equipment for live feed production, including an algae culture room, live feed tanks, and distribution systems. The broodstock rooms include a separate filtration system, and low light levels with photo-manipulation capabilities. Laboratories are also housed on site to facilitate chemical analysis and water monitoring. Since it was designed as a multi-

purpose facility for research the Virginia Shrimp Farms facility is not optimized for commercial production of shrimp or other aquatic food species. The operational goal is to address hurdles for inland shrimp hatchery development and to focus on domesticating lines of shrimp that will tolerate and adapt to recirculating culture conditions. In this way, Martin and his team hope to lay the groundwork for something entirely new. Eventually, Martin is interested in fostering the development of an inland shrimp industry that will look something like poultry production – with hatchery operations providing post-larvae and technical support to independent growers. A major difference in his vision, however, is that the growers themselves will control their marketing options. Martin does not believe Blue Ridge or Virginia Shrimp Farms will be alone in this pursuit – in fact he is hoping there will be a number of other players supplying post-larvae. He states repeatedly that the goal of the R&D work going on at Blue Ridge is to build an industry – with multiple players on multiple levels, not to mention the support industries that will develop to serve an inland shrimp sector. Blue Ridge is also looking to incorporate aquaponics in the future in efforts to further reduce waste streams. The company is currently growing basil, peppers, tomatoes, and different types of lettuces (butterhead, red leaf,

romaine and lollo) in a closed loop RAS system, adding only feed for the tilapia. The goals of this research project are to reduce the amount of tilapia effluent normally discharged to the sewer system, creating secondary saleable organic vegetable and herb products, and achieving higher overall water quality for the tilapia grown in recirculating systems.

The Future Apart from the long-range goals Martin and his team are pursuing through Virginia Shrimp Farms, further growth of tilapia operations in the near future is a very real possibility. Economically, the company has generated attractive returns for its owners and employees, and believes these returns will continue. The company plans to accomplish this goal by 1) sequentially expanding its tilapia production capacity to 10 million pounds (4,536 tons), then to 100 million pounds (45,360 tons), 2) developing a fresh fillet product which will provide access to larger markets, and 3) developing the production of other species in similar systems. Clearly, not all of this production will be located in Virginia. Plans involve facilities on both sides of the country and in between as well. Blue Ridge Aquaculture has been producing tilapia in RAS systems for nearly two decades, and has proven that large-scale RAS is a viable production method. In spite of failures early on, the numbers don’t lie. Improvements

in cost and performance of new systems will be based on improved components, and new facilities can be located close to markets, and away from expensive and ecologically sensitive coastal areas. Cost reductions, however, cannot simply come from ever-increasing cumulative production. And, although the classic “learning curve” theory of increasing productivity and efficiency on the factory floor might account for part of Blue Ridge’s success in Virginia, industry growth will require incorporation of improved processes (such as RAS components and their combination) and improved product (based on continuing genetic improvement of stocks to be used in RAS). Innovations will be required in both these areas of focus. The company foresees a number of marketing advantages that will partially offset the competitive environment they will face as tilapia operations expand. Blue Ridge’s facilities do not use hormones or antibiotics of any kind. All of their fish will be domestically produced, with highly traceable raw materials, and free of mercury, pollutants and carcinogens. Maximizing water utilization and minimizing environmental impacts will also allow the company to reach out to environmentally-conscious consumers. While all the above factors will impact future operations, the story of Blue Ridge involves much more than the simple evolution of technologies, production stocks and markets. Rather, key factors over the years appear to have been perseverance, dedication, teamwork and some degree of luck. The company continues to serve as one of very few success stories in recirculating aquaculture production in the U.S. over the past several decades. C. Greg Lutz, has a PhD in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.

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Rabobank Report on the

Salmon Industry

Constrained Farmed Salmon Supply to Persist as the Industry Tackles Legal and Biological Limits.

By Gorjan Nikolik*


fter a brief period of strong supply expansion in 2014, the global salmon industry is reverting to the ’high-cycle scenario’ already present since late 2012. This is expected to remain for at least the coming two years. During this period, the salmon farming industry will focus strongly on biosecurity, sustainability, cost control, certification and technological innovations.

Consequently, the supply growth estimated for 2014 is 8% (Fig. 1). Salmon are endothermic animals whose metabolism is closely linked to water temperature. The warm 2013/14 winter in the North Atlantic boosted the salmon’s appetite and growth rate, driving up harvests. At the same time, due to a recovery in the sanitary conditions in Chile, lower mortalities and improving harvest weight provided an additional boost to supply. However, expectations are that the high cycle is here to stay for at least two more years.

High-cycle conditions Since 2011 it has been observed an unusually long period of undersupply and high prices, except for the The Norwegian industry first half of 2014 where there was In the last few years, the salmon an unexpected strong supply growth. farming industry in Norway has 18 »

been gradually approaching the legal production limit, determined by the maximum allowable biomass (MAB, a point-in-time measurement of the biomass of salmon in a single location) per license. Industry and legislators have debated whether changing this legislation would allow growth in the sector. However, this could decision carries with it the risk of a potential price crash due to a sudden supply growth; also, the higher biomass could cause a significant sanitary risk as the warm water is favorable for salmon lice. In view of these issues, Norwegian regulators have chosen to reject the original idea and put forward a new proposal, which would allow salmon farmers to buy a one-

off 5% increase to the MAB, as long as lice numbers do not exceed 0.1 lice per fish and as long as no more than two lice treatments are used per production cycle. With these conditions, only a few salmon farmers located in the northern parts of Norway could apply for this extension in the short term. The Norwegian parliament will take a vote on the new regulation in December 2014. Green licenses would show more room for growth. They require stricter environmental standards than conventional licenses and should provide additional supply of some 70,000 tons (around 5% growth), which will impact supply in 2016 and 2017. Although Norwegian salmon producers are close to the MAB limit, there is still some room for growth in the form of better husbandry skills, lower mortality and improving genetics. A more recent tactic is to improve the use of the production license by using larger smolt sizes. By focusing on larger smolt and increasing the MAB utilization rate even closer to 100%, the industry could see growth of around 1-2% per year. Based on the combination of all these growth possibilities, Norwegian supply growth is expected to be in the range of 3-5% in the coming 3 years, provided there are no negative developments such as environmen-

tal accidents or exceptionally cold weather. While this is respectable, it is considerably lower than the longterm average of 7% and much lower than the growth in 2014 (estimated as close to 9%).

The Chilean industry Limitations for growth in Chile’s salmon industry are primarily biological. There is some legislation that forced farmers experiencing poor biological performances to reduce farming density in their production cycles. The Chilean industry has already been impacted by this legislation, with a few producers forced to reduce farming density, which will impact supply in 2015. However, the industry is currently only using 374 of the total 1,277 seawater sites; while this indicates a capacity usage of 30%, 1/3 of the sites aren’t suited for salmon farming, which means the industry is operating at a theoretical 50% capacity. But there is a much lower biological production capacity limit. The deterioration of the sanitary conditions during 2012 and 2013 along with increasing costs have been the main reasons for the slowdown in growth, but the measures taken have reversed the negative trend and biological performance has improved throughout 2014.

Despite these improvements, it is clear that its main salmon farming regions are approaching their natural biological production limits for the short and medium-term. There’s only one region, Region XII, where the industry has a big growth capacity; this region presents single producers controlling large areas, which allows an easier coordination towards biosecurity. Currently, this region accounts for 10% of the Chilean Atlantic salmon biomass and could treble its output while maintaining low densities. However, this would take years to become a reality. The Chilean industry could eventually emerge as the leading growth driver of global supply, but only in the long term.

Demand and salmon prices In Europe, salmon prices began reaching high levels in mid-2013, but experienced two sharp seasonal corrections when Norwegian producers had strong supply in months of low demand (Fig. 2). Prices in the coming years are likely to be above average and in line with the high-cycle price level which started in early 2013. Demand for salmon is likely to remain strong. In the EU there are no countries still in recession and the block is expected to return to positive GDP growth. However, the EU being the most mature salmon market, high prices will counterbalance the improving economic conditions and limit salmon consumption growth. In the US, the demand dynamics are different. While the macroeconomic environment is considerably better, salmon consumption per capita is relatively low, so there are still many potential new consumers. Japan is a large salmon market but prefers Pacific salmon, which is farmed in Chile or caught wild by fishing fleets. Japanese market is contracting and has experienced a reduction of salmon consumption even in per capita terms. As this market has great diversity in the selection of high quality seafood on offer, the high salmon prices will only ac» 19


celerate the decline in consumption especially that of the Pacific salmon species, where supply challenges are also present. A new emerging driver in global salmon demand is the developing economies, especially China and Brazil. But there are also many other smaller markets, such as Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia and the Middle East. These markets are growing rapidly, driven by higher disposable incomes and the growing middle class. The salmon industry is further improving market penetration in these regions. Russia has a booming salmon market, but the political instability in Ukraine and the ban on salmon

imports from Norway and the EU are likely to create a contraction of salmon consumption and even global price volatility. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to estimate the impact this will have in the global market, but there is an increasing number of markets that could absorb any additional volume, as emerging markets account for close to 35% of salmon consumption.

The processing and supplier industries Over the next few years, the highcycle conditions of high prices and low supply growth will be a challenge for the salmon processing industry. In Europe and North America, the processing industry has maintained a

Atlantic salmon in a fish farm, Ryfylke, Norway. Photo courtesy of Š Erling Svensen / WWF-Canon

20 Âť

wide communication with the market. However, the processing industry is in a difficult position. Consistent profitability among processors has been a recurring issue and the coming few years are likely to be particularly challenging due to prices volatility. Some salmon farmers have become processors themselves. This trend is likely to continue in the coming years as the salmon industry seeks further growth and control of the value chain. The current situation may also present an opportunity for the supplier industries given the need for the salmon farming sector to rely on them for equipment, medicines, genetics, vaccines, and feed innovations in order to overcome challenges such as lice and disease outbreaks.

Sustainability and technological innovation Chilean producers are making a healthy turnaround after some negative quarters, while European producers are already enjoying a high level of profitability that is expected to be maintained for the next few years (Fig. 3). It is expected that the cash flow will be used for investing in biosecurity, especially against lice problems.

Although sustainability isn’t necessarily a function of tight supply, it will also be addressed within the framework of the sector’s commitment to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. By becoming ASC certified, the salmon industry will achieve a key goal in changing the somewhat negative image it has acquired with some NGOs and certain customers who, while perceiving salmon as very healthy, also see salmon farming as unsustainable and harmful to the environment. If the GSI goals are achieved as planned by 2020, farmed salmon will not only be a leading protein in terms of its healthiness, but it will also be an example in terms of sustainability and low environmental impact.

Options for diversification Sustainability will be the main goal going forward for the salmon industry. Opportunities for growth include vertical expansion in the value chain by focusing on value-added process-

Aerial of aquaculture - salwater salmon farm badly maintained, Estero de Reloncavi, Puerto Montt CHILE. Photo courtesy of © Kevin Schafer / WWF-US

ing or feed, along with aquaculture of other species and even seaweeds that could be grown symbiotically adjacent to the salmon cages and are a sector that is receiving increasing attention from academia, investors and the industry itself.

Ways to expand supply Even if salmon farming continues expanding in some regions, it is from such a low base that even by 2020 it will be hard to see a material impact from these regions on global production. Some growth can also

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be achieved in Scotland, the 3rd largest salmon farming region, whose industry aims to increase its current production of 150 thousand tons to above 200 thousand tons by 2020. In Chile, Region XII is where the industry can still grow. However, lack of infrastructure and high costs due to the great distance to processing and export facilities are challenges that will slow expansion in this area. In terms of timing, it is likely that part of the near-term growth in this region will come from redistributing production from the other two regions, where production density has potentially surpassed the optimal point. It is estimated that eventually 20-30% of the Chilean supply could originate in Region XII, but this is likely to take five to ten years. Norway is expected to stay as the main producer of Atlantic salmon. The new licenses combined with the extension of the MAB will enable further growth. It won’t be as much as in previous years, but will still be significant. In the longer term, in the absence of other changes, larger smolt can continue to drive growth. Arguably, the next big innovation in the salmon industry could

be closed or at least less open systems than the currently used floating collar and net systems. There are a number of ongoing projects for this type of technology, and there may be successful commercial scale systems implemented in the medium term. Lastly, and controversially, longterm supply growth could also be boosted with genetic modification (GM) technology. Although GM salmon isn’t allowed in the EU or the US, it’s theoretically possible that it could be sold to some of the emerging markets. The currently available GM technology promises to reduce the production time of salmon and

Atlantic salmon in a fish farm, Ryfylke, Norway. Photo courtesy of © Erling Svensen / WWF-Canon

22 »

the need for marine proteins and oils in the feed. In the future, GM salmon could also have improved resistance to lice and disease. However, at the moment no large-scale salmon producer is using this technology. Innovation in this industry will prevail. Even with the low growth forecast for the next three years, the Atlantic salmon industry should be able to increase from 2 million tons in 2013 to 3 million tons by 2020. Eventually, salmon farming will need to expand to open waters. Intermediary steps may need to be taken in which the industry first develops farming on more exposed sites that are still close to the shore. Ultimately, rugged enclosures able to withstand the open ocean conditions will need to be developed. This could be challenging, but a number of viable technologies are already in development. If successful, many other countries besides Norway and Chile could develop offshore farming. However, offshore farming is probably at least a decade away. In conclusion, the salmon industry is still young. Thanks to high prices, investments in the sector will accelerate and solutions to the current bottlenecks will be found. Growth will return; but there are still many questions unanswered on when, where and how it will happen. Original article: Nikolik, Gorjan. This Time it’s Different. Rabobank Industry Note #453. Rabobank International. August, 2014.

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Mexico becomes a Big World Market

in Shrimp Imports for the first time in 2014 Due to the epidemics of Early Mortality and White Spot Syndromes that struck the shrimp industry in Mexico, domestic production was drastically reduced and the prices of Mexican shrimp By Fernando Hernandez Becerra*


ince its appearance in 2000 in shrimp farms of the Mexican northwest, the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) has caused mortalities close to 100% in the crops of Litopenaeus vannamei. Although this epidemic has been controlled since then, its effects in the industry are still seen.v In 2013, when the industry started to recover its rhythm after several years of coexisting with the WSSV, a new disease (suspected of being the Early Mortality Syndrome) again struck the white shrimp crops, resulting in mortalities between 70 and 100% in young shrimp. Many of the farms that had survived the White Spot crisis had to reduce their crop densities and even stop altogether due to the new disease, which affects the states of Sonora, Sinaloa and Nayarit, who produce 80% of the shrimp in Mexico. Both epidemics have resulted in a reduction of over 50% of production of white shrimp in this country, with the subsequent lack in supply at the local markets, which has triggered prices to never-before seen heights.

Market situation The crisis of Mexican shrimp in 2013 had serious repercussions in the shrimp production and supply chain. 24 »

Aquaculture Magazine

skyrocketed in 2013 and 2014, thus increasing the shrimp imports. The high prices registered have generated insecurity among the market venue tenants at La Nueva Viga market, in Mexico City, who spoke under the condition that they be kept anonymous. As Interviewee #11 stated, with 15 years’ experience in the business: “sale is very relaxed. During Lent, prices where terribly high and shrimp doubled its price.”

For example, in October 2013, domestic shrimp size 41-50 could be found retail at MXN$105 (USD$8.06)/kg. In March 2014, the same size could be found at MXN$180 (USD$13.7)/kg. At the moment of the interview, prices had gone down 15%; nevertheless, imported shrimp of that same size could be found at MXN$125 (USD$9.60)/kg.

The rise in the price of shrimp has resulted in both distributors as well as retail buyers of shrimp suffering reductions in sales of up to 30-50% compared to 2013. Both hotels as well as restaurants decided to offer other food in their menus instead of shrimp, while wholesale sellers declared that they had to subsist using imported shrimp together with other products like tuna, salmon, mahi mahi, basa catfish and tilapia.

Increase in imports The increase in imports of white shrimp can be observed in the country’s diverse markets as fish and seafood distributors acquire more and more shrimp from the Asian southeast, mainly from China, as well as from Central America and Ecuador. In some distribution centers, imported shrimp exceeds 75% of the total product (sometimes even exceeding 90% of the total). A clear example of this situation is the Mercado del Mar in Zapopan, Jalisco, where the greater part of the existing product comes from Central America; the main shrimp exporters from Central America to Mexico are, in order of importance, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. The interviewee #21, a financial consultant for shrimp affairs, makes a ballpark estimate: the import volume of shrimp from other latitudes is of 40,000-50,000 tons/year, or perhaps

even more, because Honduras alone exports half of its total production to Mexico; due to this fact, data is not conclusive. More recent news show that, in view of the crisis in the Sonora crops, it is estimated that Ecuador is now the main exporter of shrimp towards Mexico, with shipments of 500-700 tons of product per month per season. The justification of the sellers for the increase in imports is the domestic shortage produced by the aforementioned diseases, coupled with the apparent difference in prices, because the imported product could be acquired cheaper. For example, Interviewee #31, a seller with 25 years in the

industry, comments: “we have never seen a rise in prices at this level; since April this year, I have had to leave off domestic shrimp and 70% of the product I sell is imported”. The apparent difference in prices generated a great increase in the demand for Central American shrimp which exceeded the available supply, due to which some wholesalers started looking at Ecuador. One can then observe an apparent transition in suppliers from Central America to suppliers from Ecuador, possibly due to the existence of better prices in some sizes of shrimp in that country; if this information is true, then in the near future imports from Ecuador may in-

Buyers turned to look for other providers when shrimp supplies fell due to Mexican crops being affected.

Aquaculture Magazine

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crease and surpass those from Central America due to more stable prices, possible agreements in the near future, and product availability all year round. Ricardo Gomez Portillo, president of the Asociación Nacional de Acuicultores de Honduras, declares that exports of shrimp from Honduras rise to 14,061 tons per year, of which Mexico consumed 40% during the last two years, placing above countries like England, Germany, Spain, France and the USA, plus the most popular size shrimp being 50-60 and 61-70. “Mexico, with its tourism and diverse gastronomy, is a country with great opportunities for marketing, but Honduras could not meet 100% of this demand”, declares Gomez Portillo. Another reason for the increase in Central American shrimp imports given by the sources consulted, is that they get to the market before domestic crops do, which has a greater appeal towards imports between January and April. Interviewee #41, a seller from Mexico City, imports 50 tons of shrimp per week: “I sometimes get the product 25% cheaper than the domestic product. In the past, we sold between 150 and 200 tons per week of Mexican shrimp; we started to bring in imported product 8 years ago, I purchased from domestic producers for 8 months and then 4 months from international producers. Now the bal26 »

Aquaculture Magazine

ance has been inverted.” As an alternative, there have also been imports of wild shrimp from Argentina (known in Spain as Argentine prawn or gambón argentino, whose red coloring makes it very appealing in that particular market); one can find it in some self-service chains and price clubs in Guadalajara and Mexico City, in a raw frozen presentation in 0.5 kg bags.

Domestic shrimp versus imported product The manager of a Jalisco company which in the past distributed 200 t of shrimp per year (and which in 2013 distributed only half in the market), commented: “Even the boldest shrimp farmer is cultivating only 50% of the shrimp of previous years”. For this seller, Central and South American shrimp (which makes up 30% of his sales volume) is inferior in quality to the Mexican shrimp. “For me, it is not a good reference that the customers rate the shrimp as being muddy, sandy, transparent and insipid”, he said. At the moment this report was being published, the sources informed that the price of raw unpeeled headless shrimp imported from Central and South America, packed in block, was: size 26-30, USD$10.95/kg; size 31-40, USD$9.90/kg; size 41-50, USD$9.30/ kg; size 51-60, USD$8.95/kg. Nevertheless, Interviewee #51, employee of

one of the sellers that operate at Mercado del Mar in Zapopan, declares that the quality of that shrimp is inferior regarding consistency. The bulk of Central and South American shrimp imports is brought into the country as block frozen or individually frozen. At the Mexican border, even though it’s not closed to fresh food imports, it is easier to import product in these presentations in order to minimize costs; shrimp that’s individually frozen is introduced into Mexico in plastic bags inside of cardboard boxes while the rest is introduced in ice blocks. Apparently, exporting countries are installing facilities to individually freeze the product from its origin. Sizes vary from 71-90 to 31-35.

Concern for health risks In April 2014, with the intent of protecting the domestic shrimp industry against the introduction of diseases not existing in Mexico, the Ministry for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Almentación) of this country ordered the temporary suspension of imports of live, raw, cooked, freeze-dried or any other presentation of tiger and white shrimp from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. The measure included exporters from unaffected countries that wanted to market their product in Mexico, which had to certify that their shrimp originated and came from regions free from certain diseases. Furthermore, the SAGARPA convened society and the importers to support the protection of the Mexican shrimp industry by avoiding the introduction of shrimp from affected countries. Currently, in order for foreign shrimp to arrive in Mexico, it must pass health inspections established by the Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA, the sanitary authority in Mexico) which in point 11 of its list “Requirements for Aquaculture

Sanitation for Imports” (Combination 118-116-3614-COUNTRYCOUNTRY) establishes that the import containers must have a certificate which provides accreditation that the shrimp is free from specific diseases, including the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), the Yellow Head Virus (YHV) and the Taura Syndrome Virus (TSV), the Infectious Mionecrosis virus (IMNV) and infection by Penaeus vannamei nodavirus (PvNV). If the shipment has these certificates of origin, the containers may proceed to be imported. Nevertheless, among domestic producers, there are doubts regarding whether the correct methodology is actually being applied for the health certification of each and every one of the shrimp shipments sent to Mexico, as well as the application of the correct methodology for determining those results in the countries of origin. Mexican shrimp must pass through the strictest sanitary control by the Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS) in order to be acceptable for export, especially to the European Union; thus, shrimp imported to the country should pass through the same sanitary regulations and comply with the same quality control standards, due to which it must be verified that this is actually done for each shipment. What happened in the state of Zacatecas is an example of the importance of the health certification by the Mexican government. As part of a procedure by the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO, the Federal Administration for Consumers’ Defense), around mid-March, 2014, 640 kg of peeled bagged shrimp from China were seized, as they did not comply with official Mexican regulations for imports (La Jornada newspaper, March 26th 2014). The state PROFECO authorities specified that the product be subject to the Official Mexican Regulations 051/2010, which seeks to guarantee the safety of the consumers. The product in question did not have the

Support for the Domestic Industry is Needed “In order to recover the market, we must ensure a quality shrimp, have a demand and supply plan for the special sale and marketing of shrimp at the domestic market, with support regarding lines of products, as well as have the economic support of the Government for rescuing production” Interviewee #41 In this respect, the Mexican government, through the Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Almentación (SAGARPA) earmarked in June, 2014, MXN$600 million (USD$46.2 million) for supporting shrimp production in the country. Of these, over half would be destined to a support fund to cover 12,500 ha of production of this species as a solution for the suspension of the aquaculture reinsurance due to risk of diseases, trying to revert the fall in production of 60 thousand tons of shrimp in 2013 compared to previous years. (Source: Information of the Press Room of SAGARPA)

basic marketing info, such as packaging date and expiration date, as well as the name of the importer. During Lent, operations are carried out to detect this kind of failure to comply with regulations for products at the main fish and seafood markets of the country, as well as at self-service stores, distributors and specialized stores; nevertheless, the rest of the year revision is much less frequent so the sale of these products has to be inspected very thoroughly to verify that these points of sale have the pertaining certifications.

Tariffs without effect Besides the concern of verifying the methodology with which the health certifications are carried out at the countries of origin for shrimp exports to Mexico, the shrimp industry of this country is worried over the legal recourse that suspends payment of the import tariffs for shrimp imports into Mexican territory. An anonymous contact, a customs agent at the Port of Manzanillo in the state of Colima, informs that the import tariff for shrimp is 19% both for Ecuador and the rest of the countries that currently export their product to Mexico, such as India, China and Thailand. Nevertheless, similar to the case with the imported tilapia and basa catfish, tariffs are left without effect because the containers are imported with the protection of an import recourse that suspends all import duties; the importer ends up paying MXN$139,000 (USD$10,690) per container (customs expenses in-

cluded). Besides this, they must cover the cost of shipment and custody of the container until it reaches its final destination. In conclusion, it is clear that the Mexican shrimp industry has undergone a never-before seen crisis in the last years; together with the disease problem, another situation derived from the previous problem arose: the increase in imports of shrimp from other countries. In this sense, the imports, in any case, should have strict follow-up regarding compliance with the official Mexican health regulations, with the corresponding inspections at the laboratories of origin, as well as the methodologies by which these products are certified as disease-free at the countries of origin per the diseases listed in the Mexican Official Regulations. The Mexican producer is capable of competing with imported shrimp; nevertheless, an excessive demand should be avoided that may result in an increase in the health risks generated by introducing diseases into the country, as compliance with official health measures is relaxed, placing the production of shrimp in Mexico at risk.

*Fernando Hernández Becerra has a degree in Communications Science from the ITESO. Radio announcer, journalist and idea man with a trayectory in media since 2006, he has collaborated with media such as Milenio Radio, RMX 100.3, Milenio Jalisco, Público and Magis. He currently collaborates with content and communications for NGOs such as Ciudad para Todos, teaches radio workshops and podcasting, and is a collaborator for Design Publications International Inc. 1 The names of some interviewed persons were kept anonymous per their request.

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Award of Excellence Presented to

Who is Steven Summerfelt? Dr. Summerfelt is the Director of Aquaculture Systems Research at The Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute in Shepherdstown, WV, a position he has held since 2002. Prior to becoming the Director of Aquaculture Systems Research, Steve served as a Research Engineer at the Institute (1992–2001). Steve has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Hood College (Frederick, MD) and has directed master’s student research at the Institute. This is the highest honor that the Aquacultural Engineering Society Dr. Summerfelt has held important positions in a number of profesgives to people who devote their lives to this industry. sional roles including: • Review Panel Chairman, National Academy of Sciences; • Research Support Program Contributor for Middle East Regional Cooperation Program of USAID; • President and Secretary/Treasurer, Aquacultural Engineering Society; and • Founding Member, Alliance for Sustainable Aquaculture. Steve is the author or co–author of more than sixty scientific publications, nine book chapters, and the book titled Recirculating Aquaculture Systems. Virginia Tech Professor and Society First Vice President, Dr. David Kuhn presented the award to Steve during the Plenary Session of the two–day conference held in Roanoke, VA. Society Past–President, Dr. Brian Virginia Tech Professor and Aquacultural Engineering Society 1 Vice President Dr. Dave Kuhn awarding Dr. Steve Vinci of Hagerstown, MD noted that Summerfelt the AES Award of Excellence. This is only the fifth time in the history of the Society that the award has been given. “Steve is one the preeminent leaders in the field of aquacultural engineering. Through his outstanding research t a meeting of 200 fish- scientific or technical contributions to in the field and his efforts on behalf eries scientists and engi- the field of Aquacultural Engineering. of the Aquacultural Engineering Soneers attending the 10th The Virginia–based Aquacultural ciety, he has had a significant impact International Conference Engineering Society is an international on our field and joins an elite group on Recirculating Aquaculture, which association of 300 engineers and sci- of previous Award of Excellence took place in Roanoke, VA (USA), the entists who work in the area of sea- honorees.” Aquacultural Engineering Society be- food production, processing, and disstowed its highest honor, the Award of tribution. Their Award of Excellence Excellence, on Dr. Steven T. Summer- has only been awarded four previous For more info on the Aquacultural Engineering Society, contact Past-President Brian Vinci, felt of Sharpsburg, MD. The Award times in the twenty–plus year history of Excellence recognizes outstanding of the association.

Dr. Steven T. Summerfelt


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Aquaculture Magazine

Aquaculture Magazine

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must double by 2050 By the WorldFish Center staff

A new report presents new findings and recommendations for sustainable aquaculture.

Adivasi cage farmers in Bangladesh.

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new report shows that farmed fish and shellfish production will likely need to increase by 133% between 2010 and 2050 in order to meet projected fish demand worldwide. Although aquaculture’s environmental impacts are likely to rise as production grows, there are a variety of actions producers can take to minimize impacts and encourage sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry. The findings are being unveiled by the World Resources Institute (WRI), WorldFish, the World Bank, INRA, and Kasetsart University in a new paper called “Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture”. This paper is the latest installment of the 2013–2014 “World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future”. The series profiles a menu of solutions to help feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 in a manner that advances economic development and reduces pressure on the environment. “The world’s oceans and inland waters are largely fished to their limit, and the supply of wild-caught fish peaked in the 1990s,” said Richard Waite, an Associate at WRI and lead author of the report. “Aquaculture is growing quickly to meet world fish demand, and already produces nearly half of the fish we eat today. Because farmed fish convert feed to edible food efficiently, aquaculture could provide food and employment to millions more people than today, at relatively low environmental cost.” Most forms of aquaculture require land, water, feed, and energy— inputs that are not only increasingly scarce, but that are also associated with environmental impacts, such as habitat loss, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Some farmed fish, such as salmon, are also fed diets that contain processed wild fish, raising concerns that certain forms of aquaculture may actually increase pressure on marine ecosystems, rather than relieve it. The report features

a “life cycle assessment” that examines how doubling aquaculture production by 2050 could change the sector’s environmental impacts. “Increased production from aquaculture will be essential in meeting the world’s food security and nutrition needs,” said Michael Phillips, Director of Aquaculture and Genetic Improvement at WorldFish. “Fish contribute 1/6 of the animal protein people consume, and also contain important micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids that are often deficient in the diets of the poor. But as with all agricultural production, aquaculture production has environmental impacts. Our future scenario analysis suggests that there are things we can do to reduce aquaculture’s environmental impact while increasing production. If we take action on multiple fronts, we can get aquaculture growth right.” The aquaculture industry has greatly improved performance since the 1990s, producing more farmed fish per unit of land and water, lowering the share of fishmeal and fish oil in feeds, and largely stopping mangrove conversion. But the world will need to accelerate improvements in aquaculture’s productivity and environmental performance in order to increase production in a sustainable way.

The paper “Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture” profiles solutions to help feed the global population by 2050 in a manner that advances economic development and reduces pressure on the environment.

“This is an industry that has to grow to meet global food security needs but it’s still too risky for most investors,” said Randall Brummett, Senior Aquaculture Specialist at the World Bank. “We are working for much stronger public-private engagement so that disease and management risks are reduced, improving the ‘investability’ of even small, family-run operations. If we get this right, more diverse investors will come in so that we can intensify aquaculture sustainably.” The report highlights five approaches to grow aquaculture production sustainably: invest in technological innovation and transfer, specifically breeding and hatchery technology, disease control, feeds and nutrition, and development of low-impact production systems; use spatial planning and zoning to reduce cumulative impacts of many farms and ensure that aquaculture stays

within the surrounding ecosystem’s carrying capacity; shift incentives to reward sustainability; leverage the latest information technology, including satellite and mapping technology, ecological modeling, open data, and connectivity so that globallevel monitoring and planning systems support sustainable forms of aquaculture development; and shift fish consumption toward fish that are low on the food chain—“lowtrophic” species such as tilapia, catfish, carp, and bivalve mollusks. As the global wild fish catch has leveled off even while the world population continues to grow, it is essential to get aquaculture growth right—and ensure that fish farming contributes to a sustainable food future. To download the full report, visit:

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A Proposed Rule by the

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently proposed regulations to implement a Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The following text has been extracted from the Federal Register announcement in order to summarize important aspects of the proposal.

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ugust 28th, 2014. The FMP entered into effect by operation of law on September 3rd, 2009. If implemented, this rule would establish a comprehensive regulatory program for managing the development of an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf), i.e., the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The purpose of this rule is to increase the yield of Federal fisheries in the Gulf by supplementing the harvest of wild caught species with cultured product. It has been NOAA’s long-standing interpretation that the MagnusonStevens Act provides authority to regulate aquaculture, and thus, that fishery management councils have the authority to prepare a fishery management plan covering all aspects of aquaculture in the EEZ. “Fishing” is defined as “the catching, taking or harvesting of fish;” “any other activity which can reasonably be expected to result in the catching, taking, or harvesting of fish;” and “any operations at sea in support of, or in preparation for, any activity described in” the definition: 16 U.S.C. 1802 (16). Because the Magnuson-Stevens Act contains no definition of “harvesting,” NMFS looks to the ordinary meaning of that word. “Harvest” is

“the act or process of gathering in a crop.” Prior to the FMP, there was no process for accommodating commercial-scale offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ, other than live rock aquaculture, which is authorized under Amendments 2 and 3 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral and Coral Reefs of the Gulf. NMFS may issue an exempted fishing permit (EFP) to conduct offshore aquaculture in Federal waters. If implemented, the rule would require persons to apply for and obtain a Gulf aquaculture permit. This permit would authorize the operation of an offshore aquaculture facility in the Gulf EEZ and allow the sale of allowable aquaculture species cultured at an offshore aquaculture facility in the Gulf EEZ. Persons issued a Gulf aquaculture permit also would be authorized to harvest, or designate hatchery personnel or other entities to harvest, and retain live wild broodstock of an allowable aquaculture species, and to possess or transport cultured species in, to, or from an offshore aquaculture facility in the Gulf EEZ. Permit eligibility would be limited to U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens. Gulf aquaculture permits would be transferable as long as the geographic location of the aquaculture facility site was unchanged and all applicable permit requirements were

Velalla aquapod.

completed and updated at the time of transfer. The Gulf aquaculture permit would be effective for 10 years, and could be renewed in 5 year increments thereafter. The permit would initially cost USD$10,000, and a USD$1,000 fee would be assessed annually. The renewal period for a Gulf Aquaculture permit is 5 years; a renewal application would cost USD$5,000. Applications for a Gulf aquaculture permit will be available from the RA [the NMFS Southeast Regional Administrator]. Applicants would need to complete and submit the application form and all required supporting documents to the RA at least 180 days prior to the date the applicant desires the permit to be effective. Required information on the application form would include: Business, applicant, and hatchery contact information, documentation of U.S. citizenship or resident alien status, a baseline environmental assessment of the proposed site, a description of the geographic location and dimensions of the aquaculture facility and site, a description of the equipment, allowable aquaculture systems, and methods to be used for grow-out, a list of species to be cultured and estimated production levels, a copy of an emergency disaster plan (an emergency plan in the event of a disaster), and copies of currently valid Federal

permits applicable to the proposed aquaculture operation. The applicant also would be required to obtain an assurance bond sufficient to cover costs associated with removing all components of the aquaculture facility, including cultured animals. The Council determined that requiring an assurance bond is necessary and appropriate for the conservation and management of the fishery because it will reduce the potential for navigational hazards and long-term impacts on the environment that could result if structures and animals remain in the water after an operation terminates its business. The applicant would also be required to provide a document certifying that all broodstock or progeny of such broodstock were originally harvested from U.S. waters of the Gulf and were from the same population or sub-population where the facility is located, and that no genetically modified or transgenic animals would be used or possessed at the aquaculture facility. The applicant would also be required to provide a copy of the contractual agreement with a certified aquatic animal health expert. An aquatic animal health expert is defined as a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine or a person who is certified by the American Fisheries Society, Fish Health Section, as a “Fish Pathologist” or “Fish Health Inspector.” Once the RA has determined an application is complete, notification of receipt of the application would be published in the  Federal Register. Interested persons would be given up to 45 days to comment on the application and comments would be requested during public testimony at a Council meeting. The RA would notify the applicant in advance of any Council meeting and offer the applicant an opportunity to appear in support of their application. After public comment ends, the RA would notify the applicant and the Council in writing of the decision to issue or deny the Gulf aquaculture permit. Reasons the » 35


Cage and divers.

RA may deny a permit might include: Failing to disclose material information; falsifying statements of material facts; issuing the permit would pose significant risk to marine resources, public health, or safety; issuing the permit would result in conflicts with established or potential oil and gas infrastructure, access to outer continental shelf (OCS) energy or marine mineral resources, safe transit to and from infrastructure and future geological and geophysical surveys; or the activity proposes activities inconsistent with the objectives of the FMP, Magnuson-Stevens Act, or other applicable laws. Fingerlings or other juvenile animals obtained for grow-out at an aquaculture facility in the EEZ could only be obtained from a hatchery located in the U.S. All broodstock used for spawning at a hatchery supplying fingerlings or other juvenile animals to an aquaculture facility in the Gulf EEZ would have to be certified by the hatchery owner as having been marked or tagged (e.g., dart or internal wire tag). Prior to stocking fish in allowable aquaculture systems, the applicant would have to provide NMFS with a copy of an animal health certificate signed by an aquatic animal health expert certifying that the fish have been inspected and are visibly healthy and the source population tests negative for World Organization of Ani36 »

mal Health (OIE) pathogens specific to the cultured species or additional pathogens that are subsequently identified as reportable pathogens in the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan (NAAHP). This process must be repeated for each new stocking event. This requirement is intended to prevent the spread of pathogens and disease to wild fish and cultured fish at an aquaculture facility. Use of aquaculture feeds would have to be conducted in compliance with EPA feed monitoring and management guidelines (40 CFR 451.21). Applicants also would have to comply with all monitoring and reporting requirements specified in their EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and their Army Corp of Engineer’s (ACOE) Section 10 permit. Additionally, permittees would have to inspect allowable aquaculture systems for entanglements or interactions with marine mammals, protected species, and migratory birds. At least 30 days before each time a permittee or the permittee’s designee intends to harvest broodstock from the Gulf, including state waters, they would be required to submit a request for broodstock harvest to the RA. The request would have to include information on the number, size, and species to be harvested, the methods, gear, and vessels used for

capturing, holding, and transporting broodstock, the date and specific location of intended harvest, and the location where the broodstock would be delivered. Only gear and methods specified in 50 CFR 600.725  for the respective fishery could be used for harvest—except rod-and-reel could be used to harvest red drum. The RA could deny a request to harvest broodstock if allowable methods or gear were not proposed for use, the number of broodstock was more than necessary for spawning and rearing activities, or on other grounds inconsistent with FMP objectives or other Federal laws. The RA would provide the permittee a written determination if a broodstock harvest request is denied. If a broodstock harvest request is approved, the permittee would be notified by the RA and required to submit a report to the RA within 15 days of the date of harvest summarizing the number, size, and species harvested, and the location where the broodstock were captured. The primary goal of Federal fishery management, as described in National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is to conserve and manage U.S. fisheries to “prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery for the United States fishing industry.” Optimum Yield (OY) is defined as the amount of fish that provide the greatest net benefits to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems. While economic and social factors are to be considered in defining the OY of each fishery, OY may not exceed the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), or the maximum amount of fish that can be removed without impairing the fishery’s ability to replace removals through natural growth or replenishment. OY must prevent overfishing and, in the case of an overfished fishery, must provide for rebuilding stock biomass to a level consistent with that which would produce MSY. The Magnuson-

Stevens Act also requires that annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs) be established at a level that prevents overfishing and achieves OY. The MSY and OY of each Councilmanaged fishery are currently limited by the fishery’s biological potential. However, establishing an aquaculture fishery would increase total yield above and beyond that which can be produced solely from wild stocks. Increasing the seafood production potential of these fisheries will increase their contributions to national, regional, and local economies, and their capacity to meet the Nation’s nutritional needs. If implemented, this rule would establish an ACL for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf EEZ of 64 million lb. (29,000 tons), round weight, which is equal to OY and MSY specified by the Council. This maximum level of harvest represents the average landings of all marine species in the Gulf, except menhaden and shrimp, between 2000-2006. The Council determined that setting the MSY and OY at this level will allow for the future assessment of impacts of aquaculture as the industry grows to determine if the specified MSY and OY levels are adequately protecting wild stocks and habitat. This rule would also limit a person, corporation, or other entity from producing more than 20 percent of the total annual ACL (12.8 million lb. (5,800 tons), round weight) for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf EEZ. The restrictions on production are intended to constrain landings to less than or equal to the ACL. If, however, the ACL is exceeded in a given year, NMFS would issue a control date, after which entry into the aquaculture fishery may be limited or prohibited. The control date would serve as an AM while the Council initiates a review of the OY proxy, ACL, and the Gulf aquaculture program. Aquaculture facilities would be prohibited in Gulf EEZ marine protected areas, marine reserves, habitat

areas of particular concern, Special Management Zones, permitted artificial reef areas, and coral areas specified in 50 CFR part 622. No aquaculture facility could be sited within 1.6 nm (3 km) of another aquaculture facility to minimize transmission of pathogens between facilities. NMFS notes there is no widely accepted standard for how far apart facilities should be sited and specifically seeks comment on this distance. Permit sites would have to be twice as large as the combined area of the allowable aquaculture systems (e.g., cages and net pens) to allow for best management practices such as the rotation of systems for fallowing. NMFS also would evaluate additional siting criteria on a case-by-case basis. Criteria considered would include results of a baseline environmental assessment; site depth; frequency of harmful algal blooms or hypoxia; and location relative to marine mammal

migratory pathways, important natural habitats, and fishing grounds. NMFS may deny use of a proposed aquaculture site if it poses significant risks to essential fish habitat, endangered or threatened species, would result in user conflicts with commercial or recreational fishermen or other marine resource users, the depth of the site is not sufficient for the allowable aquaculture system, substrate and currents at the site would inhibit the dispersal of wastes and effluents, the site would pose risk to the cultured species due to low dissolved oxygen or harmful algal blooms, or other grounds inconsistent with FMP objectives or applicable Federal laws. More information on the proposed FMP, including instructions for submitting comments, can be accessed on-line at: articles/2014/08/28/2014-20407/fisheries-of-thecaribbean-gulf-and-south-atlantic-aquaculture Photos courtesy of

Sablefish juveniles, Manchester.

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Improving access to financial services by small-scale aquaculture producers By Imtiaz U. Ahmad*

Small-scale aquaculture is an engine for economic development in many developing countries. This article presents the challenges many small aquaculture producers face to obtain financial services, as well as alternatives to solve this issue.


quaculture is the world’s fastest-growing animal food production sector and currently accounts for almost half of the world’s food fish production for human consumption; the Asia-Pacific region dominates the aquaculture sector, accounting for 89.1% of global production. Smallscale producers are important players in developing countries across AsiaPacific, Africa and Latin America, making substantial contributions to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. About 87% of the world’s 500 million small farms (less than 2 ha) are located in Asia. 38 »

Small-scale aquaculture (SSA) involves a range of activities, from subsistence fish farming, to commercial operations, to micro- and small- enterprises across value chains. While it’s socially and economically important, it faces many constraints and challenges such as getting access to financial and technical services, integrating into modern supply chains and complying with increasingly stringent food quality and safety requirements.

Rural financial market SSA is an important activity which demands specialized financial products for achieving sustainability. Supply

of adequate, timely, affordable and easily accessible financial services is important to support different elements of small-scale producers’ livelihood strategies. The elements could be grouped into three broad areas: 1) Smoothing small-scale producers’ household income cycle; 2) Meeting unforeseen costs; and 3) Supporting new businesses or scaling-up existing businesses.

Sources of financial services In the context of a typical rural financial market, financial services, notably credit, could be availed from three broad sources: (a) formal financial in-

stitutions that are subject to banking regulation and supervision); (b) semiformal financial institutions, notably Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)/ NGOs, credit unions and cooperatives; and (c) informal sources or entities (such as money lenders, friends and relatives) that operate outside the structure of government regulation and supervision. Formal financial institutions. In practice, small-scale producers in developing countries have limited access to services from formal financial institutions, which are generally cautious in extending loan facilities to SSA producers because of the inherent risks involved, such as disease outbreaks, the long production cycle needed for repayment, the lack of farmers’ capacity to prepare viable projects, and the lack of adequate collateral to cover risks, among others. Nonetheless, there are few cases of disbursement of formal credit to small-scale producers in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria, where credit lines are provided by agricultural and commercial banks), and Asia (where the Government of Vietnam, knowing the potential of striped catfish aquaculture, has arranged support for bank loans for both producers and processors). Semi-formal institutions and informal sources. Small-scale producers’ credit needs are largely met from semi-formal institutions and informal sources. Semi-formal institutions such as NGOs and Self-help Groups are key players based on linkage programs

Small scale aquaculture producers in developing countries face new challenges and opportunities as the demand for aquaculture products continues to grow in both domestic and international markets; however, most have no access to reliable, affordable financial services to meet these challenges. with formal institutions. For example, bank finance could be extended directly to a group or to NGOs. However, as most of the latter are dependent on grants and donations, sustainability of NGO programs often remains an issue after withdrawal of donor support or completion of projects. Commercial aquaculture producers often have access to loans from their producers’ associations and input suppliers and traders. The latter usually require producers to sell their harvest to them, often on unfavorable terms of trade. On the other hand, subsistence producers generally finance their activities with funds provided by friends and relatives.

Integrated approach Small-scale producers usually require more than financial services to face market challenges and ensure successful operation of their businesses. The range of services can be broadly categorized into four groups: • Financial intermediation: the provision of financial products and services, notably credit and savings; • Social intermediation: creating and building human and social capital

required for sustainable financial intermediation; • Business and enterprise development services: a wide range of nonfinancial services and interventions that assist borrowers in running their micro businesses; and • Social services: non-financial services such as health, nutrition, education and literacy training. Globally, MFIs take on either one of two approaches in providing any of these services. The first is the “credit first” approach that considers credit as the central piece in the business development programs, with limited social intermediation inputs. The second one is the “credit plus” approach, which recognizes the importance of providing both financial and non-financial services in supporting their clients.

Aquaculture insurance market The worldwide aquaculture insurance market is at a preliminary stage, despite the increase in demand for insurance to share the risks associated with the rapidly changing production processes. The total number of aquaculture policies in force would be between 7,500- 8,000, with some 5,000 policies in the Asia region alone, indicating that less than 1% of the estimated 11 million farmers are insured. Small-scale producers in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean have little or no access to insurance, while the export oriented, more industrialized sector (e.g. salmon and shrimp) is somewhat better covered. As a follow-up to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) global review » 39


of aquaculture insurance, a regional workshop held in Bali in 2007, on the promotion of aquaculture insurance for small-scale farmers in the Asian region suggested the development of a layered risk management system, called the “hybrid approach”. At the bottom of the system is improved on-farm management based on adoption of better management practices (BMPs) by groups or clusters of farmers. Next is the development of mutual insurance schemes among groups of farmers and their associations, which constitutes the first level of insurable risks. The next level includes participation of national and international insurance and reinsurance companies. Finally, the top level consists of well-managed government emergency disaster relief systems and improved extension services. At a subsequent workshop, it was agreed that the shrimp farming sec-

The hybrid financial approach considers a combination of insurance between producers’ groups, insurance and reinsurance companies and the government

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tor of Thailand would constitute an ideal group for the application of the “hybrid approach” and that formation of a mutual insurance company to be owned and operated by shrimp farmers themselves would be the best way forward. It was also recognized that Government would be required to provide an enabling environment through a policy and legal framework that would allow the establishment of a mutual insurance scheme. A committee would be formed to report on the social, legal and financial feasibility of this project.

Challenges and Opportunities Small-scale aquaculture producers in developing countries are facing new sector challenges and opportunities

for raising incomes and livelihoods as the demand for aquaculture products continues to grow in both domestic and international markets. However, most small-scale producers have no access to reliable, affordable inputs and knowledge, financial, technical or transport services. Moreover, those who are able to access markets have a weak bargaining position. Small-scale producers have to deal with increased risks related to thin and volatile markets, compete with large commercial producers from all around the world and meet increasingly stringent quality and safety requirements demanded by buyers and consumers. This requires considerable investments; however, small-scale producers find it difficult to comply with these requirements and hence effectively integrate into modern supply chains. Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities to bring social and economic benefits to small-scale producers, who should be supported to develop commercially viable businesses that would have scope to increase in value for the international markets over time. Experience shows that, in addition to ensuring access to financial services, a set of complementary investments is usually needed to achieve business goals. There are many types of investments that would

improve the overall financial viability, governance and management of the aquaculture sector. Improving farm productivity. The focus is on investments, such as facilitating adoption of environmental standards that support improvements in farm productivity. Investments in R&D such as development of better feeds or higher yielding fish strains could also be considered in this group. Promoting farmers’ organizations. This could allow them to take advantage of economies of scale for access to goods and services, improve bargaining power and management systems, build social capital and create more equitable relations with input and output markets and comply with trade requirements in a cost-effective and responsible manner. Governments need to facilitate the development of small-scale farmers into farmers’ organizations or producers’ associations through capacity building on better management and marketing practices and other technical measures. Ensuring access to capital. Small-scale producers require access to working capital to finance operating costs for feed, seed and water management. Many small-scale producers, including those who are members of organizations or groups, arrange inputs from fish traders or processors. However, for farm improvements or expansion programs that would generate higher incomes, they need to have access to larger amounts of capital. It would be essential to establish a policy environment that favors such lending operations based on the banking principles of viability and profitability of the chosen economic activities, but tailored to accommodate small-scale producers’ credit needs. Improving market access. Investments to improve access to output markets can create value for products both domestically and internationally. Such investments may also open opportunities for cooperation with larger customers and new markets,

thereby creating incentives for adopting BMPs. Improving infrastructure. This group of investments includes improvements in production facilities (e.g. ponds and cages), input supplies (e.g. hatcheries) and post-harvest facilities (processing). Such improvements add value to products and will often require access to loans with longer pay back periods.

Conclusions As SSA involves a range of activities across value chains, the demand for financial services is equally diverse and requires differential financial products and services. The lack of access to affordable, adequate and timely financial services by small-scale producers has been a major constraint to scaling up existing business operations. While semi-formal and informal sources are major suppliers of credit to small-scale producers, there are some inherent limitations. For example, in the case of informal sources, the type of credit supplied generally meets short-term credit needs rather than medium-and long-term financial requirements. Further, their terms of finance are often disadvantageous to small-scale producers. However, there are some best practice cases, which the SSA sector policy makers should consider to develop more supportive policies and to design better financial products and services. Governments, in

particular, have an important role to play by creating an enabling environment through policies and legal and regulatory frameworks that encourage private investment in SSA production and services. In addition to governments, support services could be provided by the private sector and NGOs. As part of their advocacy program, NGOs, can also play a crucial role in effectively influencing governments to develop policies and institutional environment that are focused towards support of the small-scale aquaculture sector. While the private sector plays an important role in SSA development, the larger businesses should be encouraged to adopt more “Corporate social responsibility” (CSR) initiatives in the aquaculture sector, such as facilitating market access for small-scale aquaculture producers, providing technical and financial assistance to small-scale producers to comply with market requirements, and developing brands and marketing methods favorable to aquaculture products from smaller producers. *Original article: Ahmad, Imtiaz U. Improving access to financial services by small-scale aquaculture producers: challenges and opportunities. In M.G. Bondad-Reantaso & R.P. Subasinghe, eds. Enhancing the contribution of small-scale aquaculture to food security, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings No. 31, 2013. Disclaimer: the views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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research report

Cod (Gadus morhua). Photo courtesy of:

Is aquaculture the key to the

North Atlantic cod fisheries’ rescue? Due to its high demand, cod is one of the most overexploited By Katharina Jantzen*


urrent cod fisheries experience overexploitation and decreasing catch amounts on the one side and there is an increasing demand of white fish for human consumption on the other. Fisheries management enacted several measures concerning the conservation of stocks for future harvesting, but these could not stem overfishing. 42 »

Aquaculture Magazine

commercial fish. Is aquaculture the key to its recovery?

The question is if aquaculture could be a meaningful addition to satisfying the market demand for cod and rebuilding the depleted stocks.

Current state of cod aquaculture Almost 75% of the world’s commercial fish stocks are reduced to a nonsustainable level, while demand for fish is increasing. According to the

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), worldwide fish consumption has risen from 9.0 kg per capita in 1961 to approximately 16.6 kg in 2004. Scientists agree that this demand can only be met by aquaculture. Aquaculture production has increased during the last four decades. Whereas in 1978 about 10% of the total world fish production came

from aquaculture, in 2007 the estimated share was 30%. The average contribution of aquaculture to per capita fish supply for the world excluding China had risen from 13.7% in 1994 to approximately 21.4% in 2004. This equates to an expanding growth in per capita supply from 1.8 kg in 1994 to 2.9 kg in 2004. FAO has a list of the top ten species groups in aquaculture production which includes carps, salmonids and tilapia. But Atlantic cod wasn’t reported in the top ten list in 2004, although it belongs to the list of the world’s endangered species. Since the 16th century cod (Gadus morhua) had been the main species harvested in North Atlantic fisheries. This species can grow to a large size, reaching a maximum of over 100 kg and 2 m and reaches high prices in the international market. However, catches of Atlantic cod declined dramatically between the 1960s and the 1990s (Fig. 1). Capture production in the Northwest Atlantic had been reduced to a minimum as cod stocks had been suffering from overexploitation and fisheries management had to impose fishing bans or restrictions for cod fisheries on the Grand Banks, the North Sea, the Eastern Channel and Skagerrak in the early 1990s. Catches decreased from nearly 4 million tons in 1968 to 890,000 tons in 2002 following a downtrend. In 2005, the worldwide catch of Atlantic cod counted 843,739 tons. Therefore, the need for enhancing production through artificial breeding was highly encouraged. Although attempts to farm cod had been made before the 1980s, significant artificial cod production did not show up in the statistics before the mid-1980s (Fig. 2). Since the early 2000s, the global aquaculture production of cod has been growing noticeably. In 2005, farmed Atlantic cod increased to 8,121 tons of market-sized fish. However, when compared to cod caught in the wild, this is only a marginal contribution to general supply.

The history of cod farming There are different ways of farming fish. The distinction can broadly be drawn between extensive systems, intensive systems and stocking of wild populations or sea-ranching systems. Cod can be produced both by extensive and semi-intensive systems. Some techniques of both systems can be adapted for stocking or enlarging existing populations, in terms of sea-ranching, through the release of juveniles in open waters. First attempts at the artificial production of juvenile cod were made in Norway at the Flødevigen Research station in 1884. Several thousand cod juveniles were produced in a 2,500 m3 basin with the purpose of testing the viability of millions of hatched larvae that had been released on the Norwegian Skagerrak coast. In the USA and Canada, similar experiments were done with Atlantic cod, where hundreds of millions of newly hatched yolk-sac larvae were released annually to stock the sea; however, benefits were not documented during that time. Norwegian scientists put new efforts in the development of breeding juvenile fish, where feeding, environmental conditions and production costs had to be taken into consideration. Finally, experiments in 1976 and 1977 showed new results in feeding behavior of juveniles, as cod larvae in confinement accepted natural plankton and could

be produced with the same natural zooplankton as wild cod. As predators were removed, the survival rate of cultured cod improved. In 1983, researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research managed to produce more than 70,000 tons of small cod in a 60,000 m3 seawater enclosure; following this, many different production systems were built. As part of the sea-ranching activity, cod juveniles were also produced in Sweden, Denmark and the Faroe Islands. Small-scale intensive and extensive production of Atlantic cod expanded during the 1980s both in Norway and the UK. But although the quality of the juvenile cod was good, production results were too small and unpredictable to be commercially viable. Between 1990 and 1993 Norwegian companies, while consulting numerous research institutions, tried nevertheless to expand cod farming to a large-scale intensive production system. A high number of cod were produced, but problems such as cannibalism led to a high mortality rate that damaged the number of produced fish. Finally, trials to expand production ended in 1993. However, because of the continuous decrease in catch amounts of cod and increasing market prices for the species the interest in cod farming arose again by the late 1990s. Both in the UK and Canada, as well as in Scotland, Newfoundland and Nor-

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way, hatcheries were built between 1999 and the early 2000s. By making use of production techniques from the intensive juvenile production of other species like sea bass or salmonids, it was possible to reduce costs and this puts new efforts in the development of cod farming.

Sustainable aquaculture of cod Fisheries management is based on sustainability development, which is dependent on objectives concerning environmental, economic and sociological factors. Aquaculture also follows sustainable management criteria. The needs of biological factors - such as water quality and fish biology -, sociological factors - such as employment, rural sociology, or nutritional needs -, and economic factors - such as viability and comparison in cost/benefit terms with other technologies - have to be met by making decisions about investing in aquaculture. The major challenge of cod farming is to develop all methods best at a scale that is economically profitable. Fig. 3 shows the volume and prices of cod between 1989 and 2000 (the fillet yield of farmed cod exceeded the fillet yield of wild fish; however, noticeably cod farming can only be profitable if products can be sold at reasonable prices). The interest in cod farming increased in the last few decades due to improvements in

technology, experiences made in the production of juveniles, the declining capture production, and an increasing market price for the species; but, farming was also labor-intensive and unpredictable. This is possibly due to the fact that wild stocks rebounded temporarily and market prices fell. As several companies tried to expand their production during this period, and produced a relatively high number of juveniles, the low market price could not compensate high production costs and financial losses followed. In the 21st century cod farming has bloomed. If technical improvements, such as the adaptation of production techniques from other species, continue to reduce production costs, investments made in farming cod seem to become worthwhile in the future as long as the market price is suitable. Farmed cod is likely to enter different market segments. There could be a larger segment for cod products with low prices, and a smaller segment for fresh cod of high quality with higher prices. If production costs and all year round availability can be reached regularly, farmed cod could compete with the consumption of wild cod. But the expansion of these market segments is dependent on the consumer behavior and acceptance. Currently, farmed fish exhibits a negative image; therefore, marketing and

The adaptation of technical equipment from other farmed species facilitates the establishment of economical profitable aquaculture production of cod.

presentation of farmed products are of major importance to be able to sell them at reasonable prices. Millions of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s incomes around the world depend on fisheries and aquaculture. During the past three decades, the number of fishers and aquaculturists has grown faster than the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population, and employment in the fisheries sector has grown faster than employment in traditional agriculture. As of 2004, 1/4 of fish workers were fish farmers. While the great majority of fishers and fish farmers can be found in developing countries, the number of fishers in Norway declined significantly between 1970 and 2004, but the number of fish farmers and aquaculture activities increased. Cod farms are situated mainly on the east coast of Canada and the USA, Norway and the United Kingdom (UK); Norway turned out to lead this industry.

Suitability of cod aquaculture The adaptation of technical equipment from other farmed species facilitates the establishment of economical profitable aquaculture production of cod. In this case, previous risk evaluations before introducing a new species allowed the application of existing rules, regulations and policies in cod farming industries. To foster socioeconomic and regulatory requirements concerning sustainable aquaculture, both the establishment 44 Âť

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of environmental-protection laws and regulations and the education of participants in the aquaculture industry should prevent environmental problems generated by poor aquaculture practices. Moreover, public recognition of good aquaculture production should help to improve markets for local farmed fish. Biological settings are most important for building up cod aquaculture production. This is due to the fact that profitability is dependent on the flesh quality of the fish. Natural spawning is the most usual way to obtain cod eggs for aquaculture. Experiments showed that cod spawn naturally in confinement. There is only little effort needed to get large amounts of eggs and larvae of a high survival rate. To reach market size (3.0 - 4.5 kg), juvenile fish need 24-28 months from hatchery. Sustainable cod aquaculture production depends on a high survival level during the on-growing phase.

Challenges Some problems have occurred while breeding cod. This species often reaches sexual maturation too early; the animal loses its body weight during the spawning season, which extends the time to achieve the desired market size by at least four

months and increases the amount of feed needed to produce fish at the certain size. The artificial accelerated growth impacts the liver of the farmed fish. From this follows a much larger energy deposition and a fatty liver that reduces the flesh quality. Although efforts have been put into feeding restrictions or the use of low-energy diets to diminish energy deposition, liver sizes could not have been reduced to those of wild populations. Larval quality is another challenge. Many hatchery-reared juveniles exhibit deformities; this is main-

ly caused by inappropriate rearing conditions such as water current, gas super-saturation, or nutrition. Especially feed resources raise a problem because of the limited supplies of fishmeal and fish oil. Although alternative sources such as marine zooplankton could be used, long-term studies about the gadoidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ability to tolerate these diets are still needed. To reduce the cost of juveniles and to ensure sustainable and economically feasible cod aquaculture, the environmental impacts of cod culture must also be issued. These include the genetic impact of escapes and

Cod eggs and a cod larvae (8 days post hatch). Pictures courtesy of Cecilia Campos Vargas.

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Cod is an overexploited species due mainly to its popularity as a part of many European dishes.

spawning in cages on wild stocks, nutrient load and diseases. Detailed information concerning long-term studies about sustainable cod farming is still in development. Therefore research and development has to be further extended. To summarize, there is high demand for the expansion of cod aquaculture with respect to extensive and intensive production systems. Otherwise, the production of farmed cod is connected with some problems of 46 »

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juvenile mortality, high production costs or a lack of consumer acceptance. All factors of sustainable development have to be considered to overcome the bottlenecks and to tap the full potential of this activity.

Sea-ranching Besides culturing cod in extensive or intensive systems, stocking of natural stocks has to be considered. As this technique refers to aquaculture done in open waters, it brings some

advantages, such as the elimination of the controlled grow-out phase and consequent savings on artificial feeding and stock maintenance, besides the capital costs of grow-out facilities. As this method of aquaculture is under development as well, there exists only little experience in measuring the economic return on investments. In some cases an increase in the commercial catch amount was documented after a remarkable number of specimens had been released. Different issues have to be considered for a successful release. The mortality rate of fish larvae and juveniles should be diminished. Experiments done with genetically marked yolk-sac larvae demonstrated that survival in natural environments depends on the size of fish. Therefore, before fish is released, it has to grow to an adequate size to be able to protect itself from predators. The release of cod larvae in the Oslofjord in Norway was possibly the first large-scale attempt to stock the sea. However, it didn’t bring positive results and was stopped by 1971. Release experiments were done between 1976 and 1995 in several Norwegian fjords and coastal waters, where about one million tagged juvenile cod were released to test whether stocking could enhance the number of wild stocks. A smaller number of Atlantic cod were freed as well in Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Sweden and the USA during the 1990s. Although cultured juveniles seemed to adapt well to the natural environment, they presented higher mortality rates, along with different migration patterns and feeding behaviors. On the other hand, the genetic drift between wild and cultured cod wasn’t a major problem as only few differences in genotype distribution and gene frequencies were examined. The recapture rates of the tagged released cod changed from 0–30%. This was due to changes in area, time and size at release. All in all, the experiments’ results pointed

out that releases of cod juveniles did neither significantly enlarge wild cod stocks nor the amount of cod catches.

Future trends and conclusions Whereas stocking the sea did not lead to the expected success, intensive and extensive production systems exhibit a high potential to make a contribution. The development of cod hatchery protocols has benefited from the experience with other species such as sea bass, sea bream or salmon, due to the opportunity of adapting equipment used by these industries into cod farming. Several conditions have to be met to ensure a profitable and sustainable cod farming industry in the future. Besides biological factors such as juvenile mortality, flesh quality or growth enhancement and health, the labor-market situation and cost-benefit analyses have to be addressed. There’s the need of a changing structure of the farming industry from smaller companies towards fewer bigger and integrated ones. To support a rapid development of cod farming and to stabilize production costs and prices, a linkage between farming, processing, sales and mar-

Several conditions have to be met to ensure a profitable and sustainable cod farming industry in the future.

keting could allow the same company to have control over all parts of the value chain, from juvenile production to marketing of the processed fish. While this value chain approach should ensure a good flow of products to markets, in developing countries traditional smaller farming companies are often removed by bigger ones, which could have negative effects on the sociological situation of traditional farm workers. Therefore, different interests by major aquaculture companies should consider the benefits or needs of local people. Cod farming is planned to be expanded in the future. The shortterm production goal has been set by 10,000 tons of market-sized slaughtered cod per year - while 2003 saw a production of 1,000–2,000 tons – (this amount still includes wildcaught undersized fish). While cod production in Canada and the USA will marginally support this sector, Norway will be the leading country

Cod (Gadus morhua). Photo courtesy of:

in cod farming. A strong support by government and investments made by private companies, along with the use of similar technology from existing salmon farms sets ideal conditions for this country. To meet this goal Norwegians have established the national network “Go for Cod” aiming at creating an economically feasible cod aquaculture industry. This network tightens the cooperation between cod farmers, scientists and the fishing industry. If the industry meets the conditions needed to create an efficient cod aquaculture, this species could possibly be considered in the FAO’s top ten list of farmed fish in the near future. But although high production rates are expected, it will take years to meet the demand as the amount of farmed cod is minimal in comparison to its catch amount. Moreover, production costs have to be reduced and consumer acceptance has to be improved to draw profits. A lot of research and development will have to be done in order to make aquaculture a significant contributor to captures. The need of rebuilding wild stocks will not be evaded by aquaculture. Cod farming is expected to make a contribution to the supply at least in Norway but it will likely neither substitute capture production nor solely solve supply problems.

*Original article: Jantzen, Katharina1. Aquaculture – Salvation of Cod in North Atlantic Fisheries? Paper presented at the 5th International Congress of Maritime History. UK, 2008. 1University of Applied Sciences, Bremerhaven, Germany.

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New Guide to Help Fish, Shellfish, and Seaweed Growers Manage Risks By AQUACONTACTSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; news staff


uly 30th, 2014. A new 285-page illustrated manual, the Northeastern U.S. Aquaculture Management Guide, has just been published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center. Edited by Tessa L. Getchis, Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Extension aquaculture specialist, the manual is a wealth of useful information on potential hazards for those who grow fish, shellfish, and seaweed. Twenty-five aquaculture extension professionals and many researchers, aquatic animal health professionals and farmers contributed to the information presented in this volume. Every year, the aquaculture industry experiences economic losses due to diseases, pests, adverse weather, or operational mishaps. This manual identifies many specific risks to help seafood growers identify, manage and correct production-related problems. The guide also includes monitoring and record-keeping protocols and a list of aquaculture extension professional contacts that can help when there is a problem. The publication was made possible by funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC) to the Northeast Aquaculture Extension Network.

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The guide is available for download in PDF format at:

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Marel Salmon ShowHow: It’s All About Salmon

Marel will host the 14th Salmon ShowHow at Progress Point in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 11th, 2015.


he Salmon ShowHow is dedicated entirely to the salmon processing industry. Salmon processors attending the event experience Marel’s industry leading equipment first hand in a simulated processing plant environment. Salmon industry leaders from all over the world meet at the ShowHow to discuss the latest trends and hear guest speakers address some of the key issues facing the industry.

Salmon processors attending the event experience Marel’s industry leading equipment first hand in a simulated processing plant environment.

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Progress Point features state-ofthe-art demonstrations facilities, and is just 5 minutes from Copenhagen Airport. Since opening in October 2013, Progress Point has hosted many events and training sessions for food industry experts, demonstrating the full potential of Marel’s equipment & integrated systems in a hands-on environment. There will be ongoing live demonstrations throughout the day as we present new equipment, as well as a

wide range of stand-alone machines and integrated processing systems. The program will conclude with dinner and entertainment in the evening.

For further information on this show, visit salmonshowhow or email its organizers:


BAADER 2801 Crab Butcher


n August 20th, 2014 BAADER debuted a revised Automatic Crab Butchering machine called the BAADER 2801 (successor of the CB801). The BAADER 2801 prototype has been in trials during this past Snow Crab season in Newfoundland at Allen’s Fisheries Limited in Benoit’s Cove, NL located on the Canadian province’s west coast. The new machine incorporates new electronics, new butchering methods and tools, a smaller footprint and an emphasis on hygiene and safety. The BAADER 2801 will provide processors with a machine that is consistent in the butchering process and is more refined and gentler on the product than the previous machine. The BAADER 2801 cleans the Crab sections or clusters in a manner that has reduced the cleanup time and amount of labor required for removing mandible, gills, and liver entrails commonly left with manual butchering. Production Supervisors have noted that they know what comes from the BA2801 and what comes from the manual butchers – “the machine produces no rework, it is pack ready.” Allen’s Fisheries Limited has been a great asset to BAADER in providing an area for the initial tests of the BAADER 2801. Allen’s Fisheries Limited ran the prototype through trials and then normal production for evaluation purposes by an outside independent organization. These trials and evaluation have proved very

The BAADER Group have been working extensively the last two years to answer the call of Snow Crab processors to automate the task of Crab Butchering which is still a manual process in the majority of facilities throughout the world.

favorable and show that the machine is a definite asset for the processor in reducing the labor intensive process, repetitive strains and injuries on personnel, inconsistencies that exist with manual butchering as well as reducing cleanup time. BAADER is delighted to offer todays Snow Crab Processor the BAADER 2801 Crab Butchering machine as a way to improve their production value and reduce costs. For more information on this or other products from BAADER, email:, or visit:

The BAADER 2801 can reduce the cleanup time and amount of labor required for removing mandible, gills, and liver entrails commonly left with manual butchering.

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Partnership Between

Marel and Marine Harvest


arine Harvest ASA is one of the largest seafood companies in the world and the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon. The company employs more than 10,000 people and is represented in 22 countries. They supply sustainably farmed salmon and processed seafood to more than 50 markets worldwide. They recently updated their portfolio of portion cutters by purchasing five new Marel I-Cut 130 portion cutters for processing facilities in France, Belgium and Poland.

Extending boundaries through innovation Guy Vandenbroucke, senior Project Manager in Europe at Marine Harvest, saw a demonstration of the I-Cut 130 at the Seafood Expo in Bruxelles in 2013. He was impressed by the innovative features and shortly after Marine Harvest decided to buy five machines. “The I-Cut 130 is the only portion cutter that can meet all our requirements and enable us to deliver the new products our customers are asking for,” he says.

By working closely with Marine Harvest on the I-Cut 130 PortionCutter, Marel has developed a machine with unrivaled accuracy that has become the industry benchmark. Marel enjoys a long-standing partnership with Marine Harvest, and during the months that followed, they worked closely with them to further develop the I-Cut 130’s innovative features. The partnership has resulted in a market-leading portion cutter that goes beyond expectation and takes portioning to the next level. By listening to our customers and responding to their feedback we aim to continuously extend the boundaries of food processing performance. Our goal is to provide customers with solutions that give them an edge over their competitors.

Accuracy and reliability In many countries, retailers and food service companies are moving away from selling products of variable weight. The demand for products of

consistent weight and dimensions is increasing. To respond to this growing trend, Marine Harvest decided to invest in new, advanced equipment. “Accuracy is key to meeting our customers’ needs for products of consistent weight and dimensions, and we found that the I-Cut 130 provides the best technology to do this. The portion cutter is more accurate than anything Marine Harvest has seen before. So investing in this has opened doors to producing fixed-weight products, where accuracy is the key selling point,” Guy Vandenbroucke says. The new advanced 200 Hz camera technology on the I-Cut 130 has given impressively accurate results for Marine Harvest. Guy Vandenbrouckeexplains, “We have experienced a much lower standard deviation between portions. It’s as accurate as it can get now. Any deviation detected seems to be related more to imperfections in the texture or density of the raw material rather than the portion cutter. And not only is it accurate, it is also very reliable.”

State-of-the-art technology raises processing performance Marine Harvest considered many factors to ensure optimal performance of their equipment and premium quality of the products produced. One of the most important areas for them, as for all processing companies, is to constantly optimize the use 52 »

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of raw materials to increase yields and minimize waste. “It’s about making the right cut and using the optimal portion of the raw material in the most valuable pack. The innovative cutting patterns of the I-Cut 130 mean that we are very close to the theoretical optimal product utilization,” Guy Vandenbroucke says. The built-in TrimSort on the I-Cut 130 helps improve processing efficiency. He continues to explain, “This is truly innovative. The TrimSort effectively separates the tiniest pieces of trim from the product. Trim portions are normally difficult to separate with a classical air-reject system or a grader, but are now easily removed from the ready-to-pack products via a separate conveyor. We run high volumes, so this type of processing improvement is very valuable to us.” The intuitive software and userfriendly touchscreen makes daily operation easier than ever before, and there is no need to have a super-user for dayto-day operation. Another huge ad-

vantage for a multinational company such as Marine Harvest is that the software is available in 18 languages. Guy Vandenbroucke confirms, “The I-Cut 130 software puts Marel way ahead of its competitors.”

Minimizing impact on the environment Marine Harvest is aiming to become a global leader in sustainable seafood production. They have therefore benefitted greatly from a water-reducing feature on the I-Cut 130. “We are using 50% less water during operation of the machine. It adds up to huge savings for our large production facilities and has obvious benefits for the environment,” Guy Vandenbroucke says. Marel is committed to providing sustainable value for customers by reducing waste by-products and increasing processing efficiency. The innovative software with new cutting patterns allows for almost 100% utilization of raw material which reduces waste.

The noise level of the I-Cut 130 during operation is also considerably lower than Marine Harvest has seen on any other portioning equipment. This is a great benefit for the operators and provides employees with a more comfortable working environment.

A bright future ahead Marine Harvest is now considering installing more portioning machines in their processing facilities around the world. Guy Vandenbroucke concludes, “We have strict targets on processing efficiency and return on investment. With the I-Cut 130 we have hit our targets: accuracy, yield, throughput and quality. It’s clear that the I-Cut 130 is now the benchmark in the industry. The partnership is of great benefit to everyone involved and we are very keen to continue this collaboration with Marel in the future.” For more information on Marel’s products, visit:

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ASIAN report

Aquaculture to boom off Western Australia’s northern coast

Australia’s State Government has paved the way for a huge increase in fish production on its Western (WA) northern coast by declaring a development zone for large-scale fish farms.


ustralia’s Fisheries Minister Ken Baston said the new zone, covering almost 2,000 ha near Broome, would support production of up to 20,000 tons of fish per year - up from the current tonnage of 7,000 tons. At Cone Bay to declare the Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone open, Mr. Baston said an existing barramundi farm could soon be joined by other commercial developments. Studies confirm the zone’s capacity to support the annual production of up to 20,000 tons of finfish without significant environmental impact.

“By starting a fish farm in a declared zone, operators do not need to spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on environmental approvals and consultation, because these approvals have already been done by the State Government,” the Minister said. At a special signing ceremony, Mr. Baston said such zones would provide an economic boost for WA, with ‘investment ready’ locations and more jobs on offer sooner. Fulfilling an election promise, the State Government has invested AD$1.85 million into developing the

zone at Cone Bay and a second off the Mid-West coast. The strategic approach allows consideration of cumulative environmental impacts, which may not be apparent with case-by-case assessments. Extensive studies and modelling have assessed the potential effects of largescale aquaculture.

The Kimberley Aquaculture Development Zone The Kimberley Aquaculture Development zone is located in Cone Bay, at the northern end of King Sound, about 215 km north-east of Broome. This zone was declared by the Minister for Fisheries on August, 2014 and is the first aquaculture development zone to be established in Western Australia. It was created through a process that involves environmental assessment of the zone as a strategic proposal under part IV of the Environmental Protection Act of 1986. Approval of this proposal will create opportunities for existing and future aquaculture operators to refer project proposals to the Environmental Protection Authority as a derived proposal. The establishment of commercial marine finfish aquaculture projects within the zone is not expected to cause a significant environmental impact due to the zone’s physical characteristics, the adaptive management controls and environmental monitoring developed for the zone and the individual proposals within it. For more information on the matter, visit: Pages/Aquaculture-to-boom-off-WA%E2%80%99snorthern-coast.aspx

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ASIAN report

The Institution of Aquaculture in Singapore

Although Singapore is not a leading aquaculture nation on the global map, this didn’t prevent a group of aquaculture investors and professionals from recently forming the Institution of Aquaculture Singapore in April 2014.


ne of the objectives of the organization is to promote the development of a sustainable aquaculture industry in Singapore, and beyond, through collaborations and sharing of know-how and technical practices with other international aquaculture associations and societies. Singapore seafood consumption is 22 kg per capita, somewhat higher than the average global consumption of 19 kg, and the population is very

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concerned about food safety since a significant quantity of this seafood is imported. Many of the Institution’s members have very substantial investments in overseas aquaculture operations focusing on sea cucumber, shrimp, tilapia, milkfish, groupers and other species. The Institution’s members feel that partners from higher education, such as Temasek Polytechnic and private training organizations like LMC Training will help play a significant role in the development of human

resources to support the members’ aquaculture operations. As a nonprofit organization, the group is expanding to enroll new members both locally and internationally. Jimmy Lim is the current President and is supported by a 12-member Executive Committee with Dr. Sam Man Keong as Secretary and Djames Lim as Treasurer. For more information on the Institution of Aquaculture Singapore, visit:, or contact them via email at:

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Coho salmon represents a

significant part of global aquaculture By Asbjørn Bergheim*

This is a brief outlook on the history and current situation of Coho salmon farming.

Harvest of Coho salmon. Photo courtesy of William Fairgrieve.

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ulture of this Pacific salmon species (Oncorhynchus kisutch) was initiated around year 1900 in the state of Oregon, USA, to improve fisheries and mitigate harmful human activity, such as dam construction. Seventy years later, the first cage-based farming of Coho took place in Puget Sound in Washington State. Over a 15year period - from 1970 until the mid80s -, its successful farming resulted in some 3,000 tons of Coho salmon produced per year. The harvested fish was a typical “pan-size product” of about 0.35 kg. Nowadays, Chile has become the major producer of Coho salmon with 90% of the global production. The first stage of the industry in Chile was based on imports of eyed eggs from the Northern Hemisphere. The entire production cycle before the turn of the century took almost 3 years with stocking of 20-month old smolts of 60 – 80 g in sea cages and harvesting at 3 - 4 kg, 32 months from spawning. Today’s production in many Chilean farms is a 2 years cycle due to improved farming strategies, especially the use of freshwater with higher temperatures, and thus higher growth rates which make possible to harvest at 21 months of age. The harvest season is from late October until January. Coho salmon grows best when the temperature is within 9 - 15 °C and is dependent on sufficient water exchange and supply of oxygen in the sea cage stage. Usually, the production cycle and the technology applied are not very different from Atlantic salmon farming. Coho is a rapidly growing species and utilizes feed in a very efficient manner - feed conversion ratios below 1:1 during on-growing are often reported. Besides, this species seems to be more resistant to some devastating diseases than other salmonids. A part of the traditional Chilean salmon smolt production has been performed in lakes, but freshwater cage farming is decreasing mainly due to reduced growth and negative

environmental effects and is being substituted by more intensively run land-based systems.

Current situation of Coho culture A predominant part of salmonids aquaculture in Chile was - and still is - run in the Pt. Montt - Chiloe Island region where a high number of cage farms is concentrated. The main farmed species, Atlantic salmon, was badly hit by the massive outbreak of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) and the produced volume dropped to half from 2008 to 2010. However, a part of the lost production was compensated as many farmers switched to Coho and steelhead trout, which are less vulnerable to the virus. The high resistance against ISA and also to a widely spread sea lice in Southern Chile (Caligus rogercresseyi), makes Coho a strong competitor to Atlantic salmon and trout. Recently, this trend has reversed, with falling production volume of Coho. According to available statistics, the Chilean Coho production declined by 31% during the first half of 2014. The main reasons are protective measures against ISA and a generally higher export price for Atlantic salmon. Due to imposed governmental regulations, the number of farms in

Processing of Coho salmon. Photo courtesy of William Fairgrieve.

this region was strongly reduced after the ISA outbreak and the planned extension of the industry in the future is said to take place further south. In British Columbia (BC), Canada, and Montana and Washington State, USA, there are some closed aquaculture facilities for Coho salmon culture to harvest size. Swift Aquaculture in BC raises Coho in freshwater tanks. This farm recycles its water due to RAS systems and is run as a multi-trophic site where the rich outlet water from the tanks is used to produce algae to feed crayfish. RAS-based production of salmon is rather costly, but Coho is a potentially well-paid niche product and the fish from Swift Aquaculture is sold to high-end restaurants in Vancouver.

Net cages for on-growing of Coho salmon. Photo courtesy of William Fairgrieve.

Main market of Coho salmon Ocean ranching of chum salmon in Japan probed to be the country’s only economically successful program ever. Chum fry are easy to produce, they present a good survival rate and the release of hatchery produced fry tripled the catches of this species during the program period (1980 – 95). More than 90% of the catches originated from released juveniles and the recapture rate increased from 1% to 3% during this 15-year period. The global production of Coho salmon is around 200,000 tons, or about 1/10 of the Atlantic salmon production. Japan comes second as Coho producer globally, but is the leading Coho market with a share of more than 90% of the total volume. Thus, most of the Japanese consumption is based on imports from Chile. The production of Coho is to a great extent determined by the preferred consumer’s product in Japan which is 4 - 6 lb. fish sold frozen in supermarkets.

Dr. AsbjØrn Bergheim is a senior researcher in the Dept. of Marine Environment at the International Research Institute of Stavanger. His fields of interest within aquaculture are primarily water quality vs. technology and management in tanks, cages and ponds, among others.

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Feed Report

Recent news from around the globe by

These are some of the highlights of the past few weeks at

By Suzi Dominy*

Denmark - Fish food with antibodies to replace antimicrobial agents new research project headed up by DTU Vet is seeking to use feed containing natural antibodies to combat pathogenic bacteria as a replacement for treating fish fry with antimicrobial agents. The antibodies are derived from fish blood. The Danish Agritech Agency’s Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP) has granted the project funding of DKK 5.7 million (Approx. USD$987,372). “Aquaculturists are increasingly choosing to vaccinate rather than treat with antimicrobial agents, but the immune system in fry is not sufficiently developed to allow vaccines to have the desired effect. As a result, treatment with antimicrobial agents is currently the only effective way to deal with problematic bacterial infections among fry,” explained Professor Peter Heegaard from DTU Vet, who is heading the research project. “We want to produce food enriched with antibodies to combat pathogenic bacteria so that we can implement what is known as ‘passive immunization’ of the fry to make them resistant to the infections,” relates Professor Peter Heegaard. The fish’s immune system will develop the antibodies naturally over


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time following exposure to the bacteria, but it is hoped that this can be achieved earlier if the fry are fed the relevant antibodies in their feed. The project will attempt to harvest the antibodies from blood collected in connection with the standard process for slaughtering fish. The feed will then be tested on fish suffering from bacterial infections including Rainbow Trout Fry Syndrome (RTFS), enteric redmouth disease (ERM) and furunculosis, which are currently responsible for major losses in rainbow trout breeding.

Denmark/Turkey - BioMar and Sagun sign final agreement for JV aquafeed company At a small ceremony in Aarhus, Denmark, the final agreement for the establishment of a Joint-Venture feed company and a feed plant in Turkey was signed by BioMar CEO Mr. Torben Svejgaard and the owner of the Sagun Group, Mr. Ahmet Sagun. Torben Svejgaard expects the factory, which will be placed near Izmir in the south west of Turkey, to become operational towards the end of 2015. Turkish fish farmers will however be able to purchase feed in the next weeks from other BioMar factories through the newly established BioMar-Sagun feed company. The new JV feed company will serve mainly Turkey, the second larg-

est aquaculture market in Europe, but once the feed plant becomes operational the new feed company will also start export sales to some of the neighboring countries. The move will strengthen BioMar’s position in the Eastern Mediterranean area considerably. The Turkish market is already served by more than 15 feed companies, but almost all are only local players with limited resources for research and product development. Local presence is one of the keys to the Turkish feed market, but many Turkish fish farmers have long expressed the need for introducing new and better feed concepts that give better and more stable production results. In collaboration with one of the leading Turkish fish farmers BioMar recently performed bench mark trials with some of the main Turkish feed brands. BioMar said these trials underlined the need for introducing more efficient and sustainable diets in Turkish aquaculture. BioMar’s know-how in feed development and manufacturing combined with Sagun’s strong network within the Turkish aquaculture sector provides a strong platform from which to build.

India - Demand for catfish and tilapia feed growing India has a thriving and evolving aquaculture industry. However, most

farmers still rely on low cost and easily available traditional feeds comprised of rice or wheat bran, groundnut cake, and other agro products. But the demand for commercial aquafeed is increasing. This trend is being driven by a growing awareness of the benefits. According to a report, “India Commercial Aquafeed Market Outlook 2018”, by RNCOS, over the past few years new technologies have been introduced to increase the production of tilapia and catfish. Efforts are also being made to improve the feed for these fish to attain high productivity. Thus, commercial finfish feed consumption is expected to grow during 2014-2018. The growth in the demand of commercial feed for these fish will also propel an equivalent increase in the demand for ingredients such as soybean meal and rice bran.

Norway - Marine Harvest feedmill on stream Marine Harvest, the world’s largest salmon producer, delivered its own feed to sites in Norway for the first time in June. In the company’s second quarter report, CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog said that when the Bjugn feedmill is at full capacity it will serve 60% of the company’s Norwegian production, and is a vital step towards Marine Harvest becoming a fully integrated protein producer with complete control from feed to plate. Philippines/Vietnam - Pilmico finalizes Vietnam aquafeed mill purchase In early August 2014, Philippines’ Pilmico International Pte Ltd. Purchased 70% of Vietnam’s Vinh Hoan 1 Feed JSC, part of Vinh Hoan Corp, one of Vietnam’s leading aquatic product ex-

porters. The remaining 30% is to be purchased by Pilmico over the next five years at an agreed price, for a total of USD$28 million. Pilmico president and chief executive officer, Sabin Aboitiz said the company hoped the acquisition would pave the way for their entry into neighboring Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, as they would be supplying their Vietnamese products to buyers along the Mekong River. Pilmico, whose main business is flour milling and animal feed, is eying acquisitions ahead of 2015 ASEAN free trade agreement.

USA -Bell Aquaculture Launches Aquafeed Mill in Albany, Indiana Bell Aquaculture LLC held the grand opening event for the Bell Farms aquafeed mill located in central Indiana, USA. Over 300 fish farmers, government officials and industry experts attended the event held on site. This mill represents the last major step toward completion of a vertically integrated aquaculture farm that has long been in development by the team at Bell. This vertical integration includes a 1,000 ton fish farm, an inhouse processing facility and production of value added products generated from capture and cultivation of by-products. Led by Dr. Steven Craig, a fish nutritionist with more than 25 years of experience, the feeds from this mill will be tailored to the nutritional, biological and physiological needs of specific species at key points in the life cycle of the fish. The mill will be the first of its kind to produce feed locally to service the aquaculture industry on a mass scale. Bell Farms is expected to produce 1,000 tons of feed per

month, sourcing over half of the ingredients locally.

Finland - Feed Not a Major Contributor to Waterway Eutrophication Feed intended for commercially farmed fish is not the main contributor to the eutrophication of Finland’s waterways, according to The Finnish Fish Farmers’ Association. Responding to an accusation made in a local paper by the research institute MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the association said Baltic Sea rainbow trout farms contribute some nutrients to the water systems in the form of fish feces and sinking food particles, but this amount has been cut in half in the last ten years. Almost all of the feed intended for the fish is utilized, they said. Anu-Maria Sandel, Managing Director of the Fish Farmers’ Association said aquaculture in general is one of the most ecologically efficient means of producing protein because the fish utilize their feed more efficiently than animals bred on land.

Suzi Dominy is the founding editor and publisher of She brings 25 years of experience in professional feed industry journalism and publishing. Before starting this company, she was co-publisher of the agri-food division of a major UK-based company, and editor of their major international feed magazine for 13 years.

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Aquaculture Engineering

The Nitrogen Game â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Part 1 Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll continue discussing the importance of water quality By Dallas Weaver*


nce the oxygen issue previously discussed is solved, the next problem confronting an aquaculturist is often nitrogen in the form of ammonia as a waste product from the fish or shrimp being cultured. This rapidly becomes a very complex subject dependent upon the details and will take more than one column to adequately discuss. When any external fish/shrimp feed goes into a culture system, the culture species consumes and metabolizes this food. Its ability to convert all the protein into its own growth is far from 100%. Proteins are made from amino acids that contain fixed nitrogen containing molecules required for life and growth, however excess amino acids ingested by the animals are metabolized to energy and ammonia. In our bodies, we convert ammonia + carbon dioxide into urea, which is much less toxic to cells than the ammonia. Being non-toxic, we can excrete urea at high concentrations in our urine, but this conversion requires metabolic energy. Aquatic animals, breathing water, effectively have about a million kg of water passing over their gills for every kg of food metabolized. This opens up the options of directly dumping waste ammonia into the water. Unionized ammonia can pass directly from the blood through the gills into 62 Âť

management in aquaculture.

the water, as long as the un-ionized ammonia levels in the water are less than the blood. As a rule of thumb, somewhere around 3 to 4% of the input feed will show up as waste ammonia (as N) going into the water. A 100 mg/l feed rate input to your system will result in an elevated TAN reading (total ammonia nitrogen – what a test kit usually measures as N). The addition to the water would be 3 to 4 mg/l as N. Ammonia in water can exist as both ionized ammonia (NH3+) and un-ionized ammonia (NH3). The relative amounts depend upon the pH of the water. The relationship can be describes as:

where: [TAN] is the measured concentration of total ammonia nitrogen (mg/L); pKa , the acidity constant for the reaction (9.40 at 20 ºC); and pH, the pH of the water. Many calculators and spread sheets are available on the internet for doing these calculations. Note that the pH dependence is very strong (exponential) and a TAN in the 3 mg/l range has low (nontoxic) levels of un-ionized ammonia at a pH of 7: a pH of 9 will kill the fish. One pH unit change will make an almost tenfold change in the unionized ammonia concentration and corresponding toxicity. If you keep the un-ionized ammonia < 20µg/l, there appears to be few health issues. The question now becomes how the aquaculturist handles this ammonia. Flow-through aquaculture and net pens simply depend upon high flow rates to remove the ammonia. The ammonia problem goes elsewhere. With huge amounts of water such as found in offshore net pens, the ammonia is diluted to way below background levels. In non-offshore situations where the volumes of water are smaller, consideration must be given to the potential eutrophication

effects of high nutrient water going into the environment. In flow-through systems using pure oxygen to solve the oxygen problem, the CO2 produced by the fish metabolism can decrease the pH and the un-ionized ammonia allowing higher ammonia levels in the discharge. This allows for higher feed/ flow ratios. If this water is then used for agriculture, the ammonia is effectively recycled as fertilizer for more plant protein production. Photosynthetic based systems ranging from green water ponds to aquaponics growing emergent plants all use the solar energy to produce plant proteins utilizing the ammonia and other forms of fixed N from the water. In the case of algae based systems or submerged aquatic plants, which also use CO2 from the water along with the ammonia, the carbon dioxide removal will increase the pH and the concentrations of un-ionized ammonia. This can make a delicate balancing game where sunlight increases the pH and the ammonia becomes highly toxic with pH level > 9 in the afternoon. Depending upon the alkalinity and water depth, you

can have a situation where your TAN is going down but the pH is going up fast enough with photosynthesis to dramatically increase the un-ionized ammonia toxicity (the opposite of the pure O2 flow through case above). Higher alkalinity per unit area (water alkalinity times water depth) will decrease the pH daily swing caused by photosynthesis, while higher alkalinity will increase the average pH. Solar energy systems can only produce about 20 gm of biomass growth per m2/day, which, with a 30% protein algae, would use about 1 gm/m2/ day of N. This can be translated into about 20-30 g of feed / m2 /day (300 kg/Ha) being near the maximum feed rate per area that can go into a photosynthetic based system of a pond or an aquaponics system (based upon growing area of photosynthetic plants). If the fish/shrimp consume the algae/plants, the yield of fish per area will increase as reflected in the effective feed conversion ratio (FCR), but the overall system is still limited on N or feed input per area. Instead of solar energy, chemical energy, in the form of carbohydrates can be added to the water. The car» 63

Aquaculture Engineering

bohydrates feed fast growing heterotrophic bacteria, which utilize the ammonia and other fixed N sources in the water to synthesize amino acids and proteins necessary for growth. This approach using chemical energy as sugars or other carbohydrates is often referred to as biofloc technology because the bacteria biomass being produced tends to flocculate into small particles. Chemical energy driven systems are limited only by the rate of oxygen addition necessary to supply the bacteria and by the species and the social behavior of the animals. Both solar and carbohydrate driven ammonia removal systems don’t actually remove the ammonia (N), they just store the ammonia N as proteins in the biomass. This biomass could be consumed by the fish, or could be used to feed a food chain whose higher links are consumed by the fish (with corresponding internal ammonia production), or removed from the system. Both solar and carbohydrate systems have a variety of bacterial species: slower growing species of bacteria (relative to algae or heterotrophic bacteria feeding on sug64 »

ars) that convert ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2- ) and another group of bacteria that further oxidize nitrite to nitrate (NO3- ). The conversion of ammonia to nitrate makes the waste nitrogen relatively non-toxic to fish/ shrimp and most aquatic organisms. Nitrifying bacteria, with their slow growth rates, can’t survive in any system in which the average age of the biofloc is less than about a week. Growing these ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, usually on surfaces, becomes the key process in recycle aquaculture systems (RAS) where the water is highly recycled and the fish are produced in very high intense systems. Instead of being limited to the 1 gm of ammonia that can be used by photosynthesis / m2 / day in an algae pond or producing 10 gm or more of bacterial biomass per g of ammonia sequestered in a biofloc system, the autotrophic bacteria living on converting ammonia to nitrite and nitrate only use a fraction of the ammonia for protein synthesis and growth, with most ammonia being used for energy production. The nitrification bacteria seem to perform better in surface biofilms with abilities to handle up to about

0.4 g (N) / m2 / day. This is the same range as photosynthesis, but unlike solar energy driven system, these RAS biofilms can be 3-dimensional with very high surface areas per m3 (from 100’s of m2/m3 for moving beds, trickling filters, submerged filters, RBC’s, etc. to many thousands of m2/m3 for fluidized bed systems). The biofilters for RAS can be viewed as habitats for bacteria on surfaces with the ability to deliver both oxygen and ammonia to the bacteria, where the bacteria will react to the two chemicals forming, ultimately, nitrate. Of course converting ammonia (a form of alkalinity -- 1 meq per mmole) to nitrate (nitric acid using 1 meq/mmol of alkalinity to be neutralized) results in the loss of 2 meq / mmol of alkalinity. In more common units, oxidizing 1 mg/l of ammonia to nitrate in the biofilter uses 7.14 mg/l of alkalinity (as CaCO3). As the ammonia added by the fish was only a temporary addition to the alkalinity pool of the water, you can really say that you only lost and have to make up 3.57 mg/l of alkalinity. In the main part of a recycle system and biofilter you usually don’t actually eliminate the fixed N, you just convert it to a much less toxic form. In the next column, I hope to go into how you can convert that fixed N into ordinary atmospheric N2 and remove it from the system allowing true zero discharge recycle aquaculture systems to be built along with producing anammox bacteria that live on ammonia and nitrite as their energy supply.

Dallas Weaver, PhD, started designing and building closed aquaculture systems in 1973 and worked for several engineering/consulting companies in the fields of air pollution, liquid wastes, and solid wastes until 1980. Today, he’s the Owner/President of Scientific Hatcheries. e-mail:

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Marine Finfish Aquaculture

If it were easy,

everyone would be doing it! As I read the last issue of Aquaculture Magazine with great interest, I couldn’t help but notice that marine fish culture was very well By Mark Drawbridge *


he associated article on yellowtail farming in Chile by Kolkovski and Lacamara covered the current production process at one advanced commercial operation in good detail and also described future R&D needs. Vargas provided a focused article on a seemingly simple decision of what tank color to use in larval rearing of a

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represented, including the cover photo of some tasty yellowtail!

given species. Finally, Sims gave a status report on open ocean mariculture from a recent offshore aquaculture conference held in Turkey. Each of these articles was thought-provoking in its own way, and inspired me to use them as a springboard for further thoughts and discussion from our experiences at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) in California, U.S.A. The title of this piece came to me as I thought more about what I had read in the above-mentioned articles and gave consideration to the state of the industry in general. All professions come with varying degrees of challenges and rewards (aka failures and successes), and marine fish farming is no different. The recipe for success is complicated depending on various economic, political/regulatory, and technical factors. Being such a relatively new industry, marine finfish farming is skewed toward the challenges, which is great for those with a pioneering spirit but not necessarily so for investors. As a research scientist I spend my days focused on the technical ingredients for success, which necessarily includes a strong awareness of the economic realities of production at various scales. As someone who oversees a commercialscale research hatchery, I also have a

keen awareness of political and regulatory considerations for egg-to-plate farming. In the U.S. this process has been paralyzed in the experimental phase along the continuum of experimental-pilot-commercial project scaling, at least when it comes to efforts to farm offshore. Applying a “never give up” spirit, we have sought to overcome this paralysis by testing various species of fish, diets and cage systems in the neighboring waters of Mexico. Other U.S. companies have done the same. As indicated by Kolkovski and Lacamara, one of the challenges of breeding large pelagic fishes (i.e. 1530kg each) is the large tank volume required for natural spawning. The large volume translates into greater space, maintenance, and operational requirements. We have good success breeding species like yellowtail, white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) and California halibut (Paralichthys Californicus) in tanks of 40-140 m3. Working in southern California, we are invariably limited by space, so we often wonder how small of a breeding tank can successfully be used for a given species. The depth of water required for courtship and spawning is a related question of interest. Of course if it is critical to get lots of high quality eggs from a population, it is always

best to err toward large, deep tanks! We recently went back and forth with a population of halibut that spawned well in a tank of 40 m3 but not well in a tank of 11.5 m3. They are now back in the 40 m3 tank and spawning productively once again. We have not been able to try 20 and 30 m3 tanks for this species but it would be interesting! One of the research projects we have just started will examine the effects of dietary manipulations of yellowtail broodstock on egg and larval quality. In order to compare treatment diets to controls with replication, we are planning to use 4 to 6 tanks. Our space limitations have us working with 10 m3 tanks once again (4m diameter X 1.1 m deep). The fish are mature but relatively small, averaging 10 kg; they are also currently spawning in 20 m3 tanks of the same depth. This experience, coupled with other anecdotal information from colleagues, leaves us optimistic for our study and its implications for future studies on reproduction in large pelagic fishes! The article on selecting tank colors by Cecilia Vargas was excellent and leaves little to add. The visual environment perceived by the larvae is complex and should be optimized to maximize culture performance. The complexity includes the interplay among tank color, light intensity and wavelengths, and levels of turbidity. The effects of these factors on larval fish are also known to vary among and within species at different developmental stages, which further complicate the path to optimization. We

have studied this extensively and still have much to learn and apply. One key performance measure in optimizing the visual environment of fish larvae is feeding efficiency (e.g. through improved prey contrast), which usually translates directly to larval growth and general health. Behavioral orientation by the larvae in the water column is also important to avoid contact with the tank bottom where bacterial contamination becomes a problem, as well as with the tank walls where the larvae can be physically damaged. In this regard, growth and survival are good metrics for experimental work but assessments of malformations should ideally be included as a quality metric. As referenced by the previous authors, bacterial contamination can cause major problems in larval rearing. Obvious potential vectors are the eggs, water, live feeds and turbidity additives (e.g. algae). Common mitigation strategies are routine disinfection of eggs and the seawater supply, and periodic disinfection of all associated systems. Good hygiene in the production of live feeds is crucial to success. Using a turbidity agent like clay is becoming more common for some species because it has antibacterial properties, unlike algae that can often enhance bacterial growth. Another husbandry-related method of bacterial control is to gently transfer the eggs and larvae from their (colonized) culture tank to a sterilized tank one or more times during the culture process. As we have learned, new technologies like continuous,

self-cleaning tanks are also being applied in places like Chile. Finally, following the lead of other aquaculture industries like shrimp, probiotics can be used to out-compete harmful bacteria when applied under appropriate conditions. I will wrap this article up by saying that this discussion is the “tip of the iceberg” in the development of reliable culture methods for a given species leading to successful commercialization. The market value of the species will dictate how much leeway there is in the cost of production but competition among producers will always fuel the need for refinement toward optimization. Those involved in marine finish aquaculture are the “new kids on the block” from a historical aquaculture perspective, so the learning curve is still somewhat steep. I personally enjoy that aspect, although it does come with its share of frustrations. Then again, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

Mark Drawbridge has a B.S. degree in biology and a Master’s degree in Marine Ecology. He’s currently a Senior Research Scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego, where he also serves as the Director of the aquaculture program.

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THE Shellfish CORNER

Shellfish and the Problem of Ocean Acidification

Over that last two decades there has been growing concern by the By Michael A. Rice*


or the most part this concern has manifested itself as a vigorous debate among political factions as to whether our manmade greenhouse gas emissions are the major cause of global warming or whether the problem is severe enough that should be altering our habits with the use of fossil fuels. One thing is for certain and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are much higher now than they have been in the last 650,000 years. Data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency based largely on sampling trapped air in Antarctic ice cores and direct atmospheric measurement in recent years has shown that the current atmospheric CO2 concentrations of about 380 ppm are about 36% higher than the 18th Century pre-Industrial Revolution concentration of about 280 ppm and about 69% higher than the average of about 225 ppm over the last 650,000 years. The CO2 concentrations had been fluctuating over this time between 200 and 280 ppm in a rough cycle of about 100,000 years in duration. Thus atmospheric CO2 levels are now remarkably high. 68 Âť

scientific community about global carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon dioxide readily dissolves into water creating what is known as carbonic acid, and atmospheric CO2 dissolving into oceanic seawater is no exception. Pre-industrial pH of seawater as a measure of acidity was about 8.2, but it has been lowered now to about 8.1 indicating more acid conditions. To many it seems that a fraction of a pH unit is very small, but since pH is on a logarithmic scale, the actual change in acidity as measured by hydrogen ion concentration is an increase of about 30% over pre-industrial times, which is in the same ballpark as the atmospheric increase of CO2. This increase in pH of seawater is extremely important to shellfish growers, because pH is a major factor affecting carbonate chemistry, especially as it applies to shell formation in oysters, clams and other bivalve mollusks. For several years there has been reduced oyster seed production in oyster hatcheries in the U.S. Pacific Northwest that have been attributed to upwelling waters from the Pacific ocean that are high in CO2 at the critical time of larval shell formation. In a recent paper by George Waldbusser and several colleagues at

Oregon State University in Geophysical Research Letters they report their research findings that acidic seawater is not necessarily dissolving the shells as some scientists have previously suspected, but rather the oyster larvae use more of their energy stores at a critical time of their development that causes the larvae to grow slower or even die (Fig. 1). The implication of this study is that shellfish hatcheries should be monitoring the pH of their seawater supply and if necessary, introduce measures to raise the pH if necessary with the addition of an alkaline solution such as sodium carbonate. Two oyster hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest, Whiskey Creek Hatchery in Tillamook, Oregon and the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery in Quilcene, Washington have adopted this technique of treating their seawater prior to use in the hatchery and have much greater oyster larval growth and survival as a result. However, as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue rising the problem of low pH seawater in hatcheries may become an issue in areas outside the Pacific Northwest region where this larval development impairment syndrome has been first described.

Fig. 1. This image shows 1-day old Pacific oyster larvae from the same parents, raised by the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery in natural waters of Dabob Bay, Washington. The larvae on the left were reared in treated seawater with favorable carbonate chemistry; on the right raw water proved to have an unfavorable chemistry. Photo by: George Waldbusser and Elizabeth Brunner, of Oregon State University.

Water monitoring and vigilance by hatchery managers is the best policy. Another issue associated with low pH is the shell loss of freshly set bivalves such as oysters and clams into sediments that may have localized areas of low pH that may be exacerbated by the global acidification of the oceans. Mark Green from St. Joseph’s College in Maine and colleagues in 2009 published research in Limnology and Oceanography of their research on the survival of juvenile clams in sediments with low pH that affected the amount of calcium carbonate that can be dissolved in the sediment pore waters. As pH lowers, the more calcium can dissolve into the sediment waters and shells of bivalves dissolve faster. When Green and his colleagues buffered the sediments with a calcium carbonate source affecting the sediment chemistry, they there were able to demonstrate greater survival of their juvenile clams. For many decades, a number of shellfish researchers, including John

Kraeuter of the Haskin Lab in New Jersey, Michael Castagna of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and Clyde MacKenzie of the National Marine Fisheries Service, have experimented with means to increase survival of seed clams and other shellfish in field plots. Their findings had shown that placing gravel into nursery beds had the effect of lowering predation losses of clams and other shellfish, but they also found that crushed shell often worked better than the gravel in increasing juvenile shellfish survival. Green and colleagues have provided a chemical explanation for the efficacy of the well-known practice of seedbed shelling. It is not just clams being able to hide from their predators. The entire issue of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and oceans should be of concern to shellfish producers if not any reason more than possible rising costs associated with water management and controlling pH and calcium saturation levels in hatchery and

juvenile rearing operations. But in a more global sense, larval and juvenile shellfish may well be one of the best “environmental sentinels” in the shifting planetary carbon cycle and should be more than just a minor footnote in the discussion of carbon emissions management.

Michael A. Rice, PhD, is a Professor of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science at the University of Rhode Island. He has published extensively in the areas of physiological ecology of mollusks, shellfishery management, molluscan aquaculture, and aquaculture in international development.

» 69


The complexity

of nutrition “Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it”, Alan J. Perlis.

By Paul B. Brown*


r. Alan Perlis was a mathematics professor at Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, and Yale Universities and considered one of the pioneers in computer programming languages. His quote describing complexity refers to his area of research and the complex interactions between computers, but the concept of complexity also applies to nutrition. Those of us who work in nutrition do not ignore the complexity of our chosen discipline, so I suppose we are not as foolish as some might argue. However, I fear we have not removed much of the complexity either, so I suspect few would accuse us of be-

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ing geniuses. All biological processes are inherently complex and nutrition is not an exception. The following is an example of this complexity. Methionine is one of the essential amino acids in animals, and first limiting in many formulations for fish and crustaceans. One of the clearer descriptions of limiting amino acid is to envision a wooden barrel made from narrow wood slats held together with metal bands, similar to wooden barrels or casks used to age various beverages, such as wines and whiskeys. If just one of the wooden slats is broken, the barrel can only hold liquid to the point the one slat is broken. It does not matter that all of the re-

maining slats are complete and intact. Similarly, if any of the essential amino acids are present in insufficient concentrations in the diet, the animal can only grow up to the level supported by the concentration of the limiting essential amino acid; i.e., not 100% of their biological potential. Again, it does not matter that all other essential amino acids are provided in adequate concentrations. One of the fundamental challenges in nutrition is how to meet limiting essential amino acid requirements. One of the more obvious solutions is to use ingredients that contain higher concentrations of the limiting nutrient, in this case methionine. However, methionine is present at low concentrations in most feedstuffs. Genetic selection of crops that contain higher methionine concentrations or transgenic plants that synthesize higher concentrations of methionine are options, but have not met with much success. Feed grade methionine sources are commercially available and are commonly added to many animal feeds and we will consider those in future articles. Another approach is to understand the complex interactions of methionine with other nutrients. Methionine interacts with several other nutrients and adding those nutrients in diets may “spare” and perhaps reduce the methionine requirement. The most commonly studied sparing of methionine has been with the nonessential amino acid cysteine. The biochemical basis for cysteine sparing of the dietary methionine requirement lies in metabolism of

methionine within cells. One of the early breakdown products of methionine is cysteine (Fig. 1). If the cellular cysteine needs are provided by a dietary source, methionine can be spared for other uses, such as protein synthesis and growth via synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe, forcing methionine to the right and left in Fig. 1, where we see its role in growth). Sparing methionine for protein synthesis is one of the goals of dietary formulation, particularly for food animals. In fishes, cystine can spare 40-60% of the methionine requirement. Estimates of the cysteine sparing percentage have been published for channel catfish, red drum, hybrid striped bass, yellow perch, and Nile tilapia. For example, if the dietary methionine requirement is 1.0% of the diet, using ingredients that contain 0.5% methionine and 0.5% cystine may meet the requirement. In diets for yellow perch, the methionine requirement was actually lower when methionine + cysteine was provided supplemented into the diet at the experimentally determined maximum sparing concentration of 51%. Two of the three response parameters indicated a lower methionine + cysteine requirement than the methionine requirement with minimal cysteine; 0.85-1.0% of the diet as opposed to 1.0-1.1% of the diet. This finding is intriguing, but needs to be examined further in additional species. Additional nutrient interactions

exist with methionine that may further reduce the challenges associated with meeting the dietary requirement. Several additional nutrients are involved in methionine metabolism (Fig. 2), specifically the vitamins folic acid (folate), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and choline. Potential practical importance lies in the reduction of methionine catabolism (breakdown) into SAMe and the synthesis of methionine from homocysteine (hCys). The left side of Fig. 2 depicts synthesis of methionine from hCys using a folic acid metabolite, the right side depicts methionine synthesis from hCys using choline and the metabolic intermediate betaine (Note: betaine is both a flavor additive in diets fed to aquatic animals, and an osmolyte, reducing osmotic stress in euryhaline species transferred between salinity concentrations). Both remethylation reactions occur in vertebrates, but the extent and biological significance have not been fully elucidated in the fishes. Anecdotal evidence suggests there is a link between dietary choline and betaine intake with methionine status in tilapias, but there is much work to do in this area; largely because of the complexity of the biochemical interactions.

Practical significance Another quote from Dr. Perlis appears appropriate as we consider the practical significance of the complexity dis-

cussion above, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows itâ&#x20AC;?. Methionine, folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6, and choline are all essential nutrients in animals and must be supplied in the diet at appropriate concentrations and appropriate ratios to each other. Perhaps the best ingredients for meeting these requirements in aquatic animals are marine-derived protein feedstuffs; eg. fish meal. However, increases in the supply of fish meal are unlikely and demand for fish meal is increasing, placing upward pricing pressures on this commodity. Other feed ingredients contain the essential nutrients discussed above, but at different, most often lower, concentrations than found in fish meal. As fish meal is continually replaced in diets for aquatic animals, supplementation of critical nutrients becomes increasingly important. One of the primary challenges for formulating diets in the 21st century is meeting the unique nutritional requirements for the target species and understanding the complex interactions that occur once the target species consumes the feed. Confounding this challenge is the inevitable changes in major dietary ingredients. There is much work to do in this area, but we are moving away from the inherent complexity in this biological system toward a more thorough understanding and the simplicity we desire. Historians will decide if we achieve sufficient simplicity to be declared geniuses.

Dr. Paul Brown is Professor of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources of Purdue University. Brown has served as Associate Editor for the Progressive Fish-Culturist and the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, among many others.

Âť 71

Genetics and Breeding


– Background and Rationle A key feature in the formation of eggs and sperm in virtually all the aquatic species one might wish to culture involves a halving of the number of chromosomes (and therefor the genetic material) through a process called meiosis.

By Greg Lutz*


his halving is necessary so that when eggs (1N) and sperm (1N) combine to form new individuals, the offspring possess the same total number of chromosomes (2N) as their parents. As a general rule, the process involves two cell divisions, which result in the formation of four 1N sperm cells in males, or one egg and two (or in some cases three) “polar bodies” in females. During egg maturation or ac-

Chinese shrimp (Penaeus chinensis).

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tivation, the first polar body (typically 2N) may be expelled directly from the egg, as is the case in many fishes, but in some aquatic species it may divide at the time of the first meiotic division. Subsequently, the second polar body (1N) is lost, leaving a 1N set of chromosomes in the egg to pair up with those from the sperm (Fig. 1). Over the years, many researchers have searched for ways to disrupt this process by creating organisms,

referred to as “triploids,” that have three chromosome sets (3N). A 3N complement of chromosomes cannot be divided equally, and this results in sterility. The ultimate goal of this type of research is to develop organisms that are biologically viable in every respect except gamete formation. The gametes of many fish and shellfish can be manipulated to produce triploid offspring. Sometimes the goal may be faster growth, with

energy normally required for maturation and spawning becoming available for weight gain. Sometimes enhanced survival is possible due to reduction in the physiological stress normally association with the spawning season. In other cases, it may be desirable for fish to be sterile in order to protect intellectual property or to preclude the establishment of populations by animals which may inadvertently escape from production facilities. A well-known example involves the use of triploid grass carp for vegetation control. From a production standpoint, the bio-economics of triploidy depend greatly on the relationship between an organismâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural life history and the production cycle in question. If the species being cultured is typically harvested prior to the onset of sexual maturity, then triploidy may result in few if any benefits (and occasionally a number of deficiencies). However, if market size is not reached until after one or two spawning seasons, the improved growth efficiency realized from sterility may be significant.

Examples of Negative Results Liu et al. found no differences in growth (as measured by shell length and/or body weight) between diploid and triploid blacklip abalone over a 50-day grow-out period. Although food intake was significantly higher in triploids, their conversion efficiency was significantly lower. Diploid abalone converted 1 g of dry food into 0.58 g of body weight, as compared to only 0.44 g for triploids. Ultimately, triploids would have a higher cost of production for a similar sized animal. Mori et al. evaluated the performance of triploid barfin flounder (Verasper moseri) and found that both males and females appeared to be functionally sterile. However, triploid males grew more slowly than male diploids, and triploid females exhibited similar or slower growth than female diploids. Similarly, over an experimental period of 76 days, Segato

Triploid grass carp for vegetation control.

et al. found that juvenile shi drum (Umbrina cirrosa) triploids performed poorly when compared to diploid controls. Triploids exhibited reduced protein retention, with significantly lower specific growth rates and final body weights. Compared to diploids, triploids had larger amounts of coelomatic fat, higher liver lipid content and lower crude protein content.

Examples of Positive Results Xiang et al. evaluated the physiology and performance of triploid Chinese shrimp, Penaeus chinensis, produced by heat shock. They found that although these triploids did not exhibit improved growth during early life history, at the onset of maturation they began to grow faster than their diploid counterparts. Triploids appeared to be

sterile based on the status of their reproductive organs. Similarly, Cal et al. found that growth of triploid turbot was similar to that of diploids for the first year of life, but thereafter triploids out-grew diploids, with weights that were 10 to 12 percent higher from 24 to 48 months of age. During this same period, survival of diploids was 92 percent, as compared to 100 percent for triploids. The authors surmised this difference was attributable to a lack of spawning-associated stress and mortality. While diploids exhibited a sex ratio of 1 male to 0.6 females at 47 months, there were 3.3 female triploids for every male. This combined with a significant dress-out advantage for triploid females (14.3 percent over their diploid counterparts) indicated that commercial production

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Genetics and Breeding



Features of ocular side of sinistral and dextral (reversal) starry flounder Platichthys stellatus cultured at high density in artificial facility (total length=23 cm).

of large turbot could benefit substantially from the use of triploids.

Disease Resistance Triploid organisms generally have larger, but fewer, cells than their diploid counterparts – throughout all types of body tissues. The immune function of triploids is often influenced in different ways as a result. In the Xiang et al. study cited above, triploid shrimp had fewer, but larger haemocytes. Budino et al. produced triploid turbot to study their immune systems. In this case as well, triploid individuals had larger immune cells,

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but the numbers of erythrocytes, leucocytes and thrombocytes were lower than in diploids. Since the larger size of these blood components in triploids was offset by reduced numbers, total respiratory burst and phagocytosis activities were similar in diploids and triploids. Vetesntk et al. found similar patterns in the erythtocyte profiles of diploid and triploid crucian carp. Erythrocyte counts were lower in triploids, but mean corpuscular volume and haemoglobin content increased in these animals. As a result, overall haematocrit values and corpuscular hae-

moglobin did not differ significantly between triploids and diploids. Beyea et al. reported similar observations in triploid shortnose sturgeon.

Genetic Effects There are several approaches to inducing triploidy in aquatic organisms. In general, more techniques are available for mollusks than for finfish. Induction of “meiotic” triploidy, a typical approach for finfish, involves applying thermal, pressure or chemical ‘shocks’ to newly-fertilized eggs, with the resultant disruption of the mechanisms that would otherwise force the second polar body out of the egg. The sperm contributes 1N to the soon-to-be-developing zygote, as do both the egg pro-nucleus and the second polar body. In this way, 3 sets of chromosomes (one paternal, two maternal) combine within the nucleus of the fertilized egg, and all 3 sets replicate with each cell division as the zygote begins its development (Fig. 1). The fact that the triploid offspring produced in this way have unequal inheritance, with two maternal sets of chromosomes as opposed to one paternal set, has led to some interesting observations in recent years. Park et al. examined diploid and triploid reciprocal hybrids between the Mud Loach and the Cyprinid Loach and found that although diploid hybrids were intermediate to the parental species in

Blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra), still alive, harvested from the south coast of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Scale: shell length = 12.3 cm. Due to over-harvesting, abalone are subject to a strict bag limit of two in NSW (with a fishing licence), and may only be taken if over 11.7 cm

terms of body weight, growth of triploid hybrids was similar to that of their maternal parents. Similar relationships were apparent in terms of body proportions, with diploid hybrids being somewhat intermediate in form and triploid hybrids resembling their maternal species. Triploid hybrids were sterile, while diploids were not. Johnson et al. reported on differences in heritability and maternal effects in diploid and triploid Chinook salmon resulting from “dosage effects.” They found that triploidy resulted in significantly higher levels of phenotypic variance for growth and survival-related traits. Triploidy also appeared to alter the variation patterns for these traits, but the opposite was true for lysozyme activity. This increased fitness-related trait might be accounted for by an increased level of heterozygosity. Duchemin et al. reported a similar reduction in environmental sensitivity in triploid Pacific oysters when compared to diploid counterparts.

Interploid Triploids In numerous studies, performance of triploid aquatic organisms has been inferior to that of diploid controls, at least during early life stages. Many studies suggest that the shocks ap-

plied to newly-fertilized eggs in order to induce triploidy may be partially to blame. However, “interploid” triploids can sometimes be produced without the use of physiological shocks, by crossing tetraploid (4N) individuals with normal diploids. Tetraploids, which typically produce 2N gametes, have been produced in a variety of aquatic organisms. In the production of tetraploids, normal (1N) eggs and sperm combine to form a normal, viable 2N diploid zygote. The 2N chromosomes then replicate in preparation for the first cell division, or “first cleavage”, but temperature, pressure or chemical shocks are applied at the precise moment to prevent this division, leaving a 4N chromosomal complement in the cell (Fig. 1). From this point on, chromosomal replication and cell division proceed normally, but each cell will now contain a 4N complement of chromosomes: 2N of paternal origin and 2N of maternal origin. Li et al. reported on the production of interploid triploids in the blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala). Two types of interploids were produced: 2N female by 4N male, and the reciprocal 4N female by 2N male. The authors referred to these as “negative” and “positive” interploids,

respectively. Negative interploids exhibited similar fertilization, embryonic development, hatching rates and post-hatching growth and survival as diploid controls, while the positive interploids (from 4N females) were inferior in all these characteristics.

Take Home Message The number of species evaluated for triploidy continues to increase, as does our understanding of methods and techniques for inducing triploidy. Nonetheless, this approach to genetic manipulation often results in reduced performance, at least until a size and age at which sexual maturation would normally take place.

C. Greg Lutz, has a PhD in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.

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Aquaculture Magazine October / November Volume 40 Number 5  

Blue Rigde Aquaculture

Aquaculture Magazine October / November Volume 40 Number 5  

Blue Rigde Aquaculture