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INDEX Aquaculture Magazine Volume 41 Number 5 October - November 2015


on the

36 cover

Oyster Hatchery Opens on Grand Isle, Louisiana.



Fisheries Grant Program Boosts Oyster Aquaculture in Virginia.





Recent advances in the understanding and mitigation of EMS/AHPND.

Ammonia Nitrogen Management in Aquaculture Ponds.

Volume 41 Number 5 October - November 2015

Editor and Publisher Salvador Meza

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Kuterra Land-Based Atlantic Salmon Fishery Proves it’s an Environmentally Sustainable Option.


Missing out on Seafood Events?

Managing Editor Teresa Jasso Editorial Design Francisco Cibrián Designer Perla Neri Marketing and Communications Manager Alex Meza Sales and Marketing Christian Criollos





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Editor in Chief Greg Lutz

How can mariculture better help feed humanity?

International Sales and Marketing Steve Reynolds Business Operation Manager Adriana Zayas

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Aquaculture in arid zones.

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Health & Genetics Draw Customers to Dutchboy Farms.

EUROPE report


European Commission Continues to Promote Aquaculture.

columns Latin American Report


THE Shellfish CORNER




Offshore Aquaculture


TILAPIA & Genetics and Breeding


post harvest






Upcoming events









By C. Greg Lutz

I tried that whole optimism thing… I really did. But I knew it wasn’t gonna work” As silly as it sounds, anyone involved in the aquaculture industry could be forgiven for adopting this particular world view. We find examples everywhere of the efforts of government and academic institutions making strides to solve producers’ problems and support industry development, but there always seems to be a catch. And this reality seems to be pretty universal – at least in ‘first world’ countries. One example, which we present here in our Europe Report, involves European Commission goals for pushing the Community’s aquaculture production beyond the more-orless static levels of the past decade. First goal: Reducing administrative burdens on aquaculture businesses and producers! Yeah, man! Sounds great, right? What a boost to growth this will be!!! Only problem is, it’s not the regulators themselves proposing this. And, have you ever met a regulator whose goal it was to put themselves out of a job? Really? Second goal: Improving access to land and water. Excellent! Um…

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Who exactly will have to surrender these spaces? We’re talking public lands and coastal waters, right? How will the objections of other stakeholders be dealt with? Third goal: Increasing competitiveness. Great concept. I am surprised we don’t hear this more often in beauty pageants along with answers like “world peace” and “ending hunger…” The problem with this goal is that there is no single, nor simple, way to accomplish this. And any strategy for increasing competitiveness will probably also be riddled with ill-defined, well-intentioned objectives. Finally, Goal 4: Exploiting competitive advantages due to high quality, health and environmental standards. Seriously, if these really WERE significant competitive advantages, they would have already gone a long way toward tackling goal number 3. Wouldn’t they? Am I missing something? The reality is pretty similar on this side of the Atlantic. In this issue we see examples of state agencies and institutions working hard to promote and foster the development of shellfish aquaculture in coastal states

like Virginia and Louisiana. At the same time however, as pointed out in our Shellfish Corner column, local authorities often discourage shellfish production by citing potential environmental threats in the face of a “not in my backyard” attitude on the part of influential constituents. But, on a brighter note... to return to that concept of government agencies and academic institutions working together to solve problems, researchers’ responses to the recently emerged shrimp disease known as EMS illustrate what is possible when collaboration and information sharing are the first priority. What began as a totally mysterious, inexplicable plague that could wipe out entire farms in short order is now recognized as a totally EXPLICABLE plague that can still wipe out entire farms in short order. We understand it. We deal with it. OK, OK, I’ll try that optimism approach on this one. The shrimp, perhaps, are adapting to it and some degree of genetic accommodation may be occurring through the use of certain strains that seem to be better adapted to the environmental challenges that often set the stage for EMS outbreaks.

On the commercial side, however, aquaculture’s advance guard continues to press on toward a brighter future – oblivious to the challenges, obstacles, and bureaucratic stupidity standing in their way. And not just the shrimp farmers. Optimism seems to be alive and well all over the place. Producers keep growing all the species we are familiar with, and a few new ones here and there. Feed suppliers continue to bet on the future of aquaculture, with M&A activity on the upswing. Other purveyors of inputs, such as mesh for cages, continue to solve industry’s problems through innovation. Maybe that whole optimism thing should be re-examined? I’ll withhold judgment for the time being. – CGL

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.




Fisheries Grant Program Boosts Oyster

Aquaculture in Virginia By Karen Hudson, VIMS Marine Advisory Services

Thanks to MAS’ Fisheries Resource Grant Program, growers and hatcheries in Virginia have been exploring ways to expand the season, reduce labor costs, and improve profits.


n a cool late April morning, Rich Harding pulls an oyster shell from a 3,000-gallon round tank on the shore at Purcell’s Seafood on the Little Wicomico River in Virginia’s Northern Neck. After counting eighteen oyster spat, he passes the shell to Karen Hudson, aquaculture specialist from Marine Advisory Services of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “This is the high end of what we like to see for a good set,” he says, counting 18 spat visible on the shell since oyster larvae were added to the tank six days ago. These “spat-onshell” oysters will spend another week in the tank before being moved to private oyster grounds Harding leases from the state. Over the next two years, the oysters will grow to harvest size. “When we get an average set like this -- with highs like this one and lows maybe at 4 or 5 strike per shell,” Harding explains to Hudson, “we’ll likely get a return of one and a half or two bushels of market oysters for every bushel of SOS planted.” 6 »

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That kind of bottom line has oyster growers in Virginia increasingly turning to spat-on-shell oyster cultivation in addition to single seed oyster aquaculture for the half-shell market and traditional wild harvest – and has helped fuel greater than 300% increases of oyster landings on private ground over the last five years. Purcell’s Seafood exemplifies the trajectory of the oyster aquaculture industry in Virginia – and the unique partnership between the seafood industry and the Marine Advisory Services (MAS) that has helped fuel that growth. Thanks to MAS’ Fisheries Resource Grant Program, growers and hatcheries in Virginia have been exploring ways to expand the season, reduce labor costs, and improve profits. The grant program, funded annually by the Virginia legislature since 1999, offers grants and technical assistance – and helped fund the 2009 Practical Manual for Remote Setting in Virginia, the original source for those wanting to start or expand operations to include SOS. Over the last decade,

SOS tanks.

the grant program has funded nearly $900 thousand worth of projects related to oysters. The Manual, considered “the SOS Bible” in Virginia, describes every step of the process – setting up grow-out tanks filled with clean, bagged shell; obtaining and handling the oyster larvae from the hatchery; managing larvae growth in the tanks; and planting and growing out the oysters on private, leased grounds. “There was a time that I’d get a call at least once a week from someone wanting a copy of the manual,” said Karen Hudson, who also puts together the Marine Advisory Service’s annual Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report. Growers can purchase larvae that have been bred to resist the diseases that still decimate wild oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay – usually using sterile, triploid larvae that grow well throughout the year, including the summer, when normal (diploid) oysters put energy into spawning, rendering the meat watery and less desirable. And oysters raised from SOS can be harvested whenever desired and whenever the market demands. Oysters are plentiful in the fall, Harding said, but now, “we’re creating a good market for triploid oysters that we harvest in the summer.” SOS fills a niche that allows growers – if they wish -- to operate almost year-round, providing wild oysters for shucking in the cooler months, single oysters for the half-shell market from

And oysters raised from SOS can be harvested whenever desired and whenever the market demands.

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The process of “striking” the spat on shell tank (adding larvae).

seed culture, and SOS oysters in the summer or whenever the shucking houses are running low. Over at Hacks Neck Farm, Myles Cockrell and his family have been raising cage oysters for the last 6 years on Spences Creek off the Little Wicomico River. Like Harding, Cockrell has found SOS cultivation can control two aspects of the oyster business that have a huge effect on his bottom line. “You get a premium for your oysters in the summertime, when normally you would have less competition.” Also, Cockrell said, “you should be able to plan on what you’re putting down there, with the disease resistant strains, they should live.” The Fisheries Resource Grant program has also helped test the limits of the season. A 2012 grant allowed another grower the chance to experiment with starting SOS earlier in the spring by heating the water in his tanks during the time before the rivers reached the ambient water temperatures necessary for the larvae to strike on the shell. Earlier oysters can gain weeks of grow-out time in the “wild,” yielding a larger and more valuable oyster at time of harvest. Many growers still use the heaters in their operations, and credit the FRG program with providing the resources to try something new. “What industry 8 »

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does is find out how to do it more efficiently, with less labor,” Harding said. “We look to industry to come up with ideas of how to better manage the resource and be more profitable,” said Tom Murray, director of Marine Advisory Services and Sea Grant Marine Extension leader at VIMS. “It’s not always easy for industry to dedicate money for new equipment and supplies – especially if a technique is not proven.” Murray has administered the grant fund since Virginia’s General Assembly set it up in 1999. Since then, the program has funded just over $2.2 million on 110 individual projects. In 2013, with help from an FRG grant, Cockrell experimented with trying to set the larvae on shell on the oyster reef itself in the creek, as opposed to in the onshore tank. Though the results weren’t good enough to abandon his onshore tanks for what was called “in situ spat on the shell,” it helped Cockrell explore the different options available to him at his waterfront property. “What sets this grant program apart is that we’re not funding scientists, but instead look to industry itself to identify ideas they think will help improve a fishery, aquaculture, or seafood processing,” said Hudson. But, said, Cockrell, like any kind of farming, there are still risks. “We’ve

got the SOS oysters in a lot of different places, but every place on the river is different. It’s still trial and error.” With aquaculture -- like fishing – being very location dependent, sometimes the Fisheries Resource Grant program will help a waterman evaluate whether a particular method is right for his or her circumstances. James Headley has been an oyster grower and packer on Virginia’s Northern Neck for decades. He had planted many bushels of natural oyster seeds in the past, and pretty much given up on planting seed until spaton-shell using the triploids became a reality. Headley has been cultivating SOS since 2012 and uses heaters in his three setting tanks to push the setting season as early as mid-April. “I’ve had heaters from day one,” Headley said. “The earlier that you can get these oysters started in the spring, the better.” But the limiting factor, he said, is whether there’s enough food in the water – water that is piped from the creek into the tanks during the second half of the remote setting process, providing food for the tiny oysters to grow just enough before they are distributed onto shell or other substrate in the river or creek. A 2014 FRG program provided funds for Headley to evaluate whether sets prior to mid-April would survive in the colder waters in his creek during March and early April. “We didn’t have any luck at all,” he said, explaining that the water was just too cold that year and there wasn’t enough food available for the spat. “I’m not sure this early-season experiment is right for me, for this creek,” Headley said, though he’s still interested in experimenting with other factors, like the amount of eyed-larvae need per tank to result in a good strike. Mike Oesterling, executive director of Shellfish Growers of VA, said that the development of triploid oyster and disease resistant species really spurred Virginia’s oyster aquaculture industry, which first took hold on Vir-

ginia’s western Chesapeake Bay rivers in the early 2000’s. “First the focus was on single oysters, people saw the advantage to having fat, plump Virginia oysters in the summertime when no one else had them,” Oesterling said, but with the addition of SOS, the growth has been phenomenal. “We’ve gone from 800,000 individual oysters produced in 2005 to the production of almost 40,000,000 animals ten years later.” The Fisheries Resource Grant Program has been right alongside industry during this growth working with the growers and supporting the kinds of experiments that a working waterman or grower might find difficult to justify self-funding. “The FRG is a great way for those in the seafood industry to try a new idea or a new concept without committing a lot of time and effort to a research project,” Oesterling said. For example, the hatcheries that produce the eyed-larvae – either for their own grow-out operations or for SOS production by others – are vulnerable to the quality of river water. Piped in from the river or creek where the hatchery is located, raw water is used to grow in the hatchery the algae that is food for the eyed-larvae during the first few days of life as well as directly feed the larvae during their last few days of growth prior to storage and shipment to SOS growers. Mike Congrove, who owns Oyster

Myles Cockrell (Little Wicomico oyster company, Hacks Neck Farm, Heathsville, Virginia) talking to Karen Hudson, aquaculture specialist for Marine Advisory Services at VIMS

Seed Holdings, in Mathews County, Virginia -- one of the few stand-alone hatcheries in Virginia -- is always looking for ways to optimize processes for growing eyed-larvae during the most vulnerable stage of their life. A FRG grant in 2012 helped Congrove evaluate how recirculating systems might reduce the risks of poor water quality in hatchery operations. “The FRG program allowed us

purchase the equipment needed, and more importantly, to hire a person to do the work. We don’t have the time or resources to do research, so the FRG program is absolutely critical,” Congrove said. “With relatively little money – and dedicated labor -- you can answer a couple questions you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” Oyster growers have also utilized the FRG grant program over the last

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A 2014 FRG program provided funds for Headley to evaluate whether sets prior to mid-April would survive in the colder waters in his creek during March and early April.

Spat on shell product.

Checking the shell bags for strike before planting.

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few years to evaluate ways to reduce the incidence of Vibrio and to improve single-shell oyster production. It’s a great opportunity, Oesterling said, for someone to try something different without jeopardizing their livelihood. John Vigliotta of Ward Oyster on Ware Neck on the Middle Peninsula of Virginia’s western shore, has used SOS for several years to fill the critical summer market niche. But, he says, “there’s still a lot for shellfish growers to contend with.” Closures due to water quality, predation by cow nose rays, market fluctuations, Vibrio regulations, limited waterfront access – and access to good clean shell, an increasingly limited commodity. Tim Rapine of Cherrystone Aquafarms on the eastern shore of Virginia has eyed the FRG program for a couple of years, since the company committed to adding SOS production to it’s already successful line of hard clam and single oyster culture. “We’d have to set aside the time [for the project], but we still have many questions – especially about substrate, since oyster shell is such a limited commodity,” Rapine said. Summer harvest of oysters grown from spat-on-shell is underway. Oysters ripe for the shucking market – and few for the half-shell trade – are being dredged up from private grounds on the eastern and western shores of Virginia, and growers are calculating their returns. “We’re pretty lucky in Virginia, we’ve got both VIMS and the Virginia

Marine Resources Commission educating us on larvae, temperature issues, how to do the set,” said Rich Harding. And, with the Fisheries Resource Grant program, Harding said, “we’re also getting help in finding ways to make SOS feasible to do on a broader scale. It’s been a great joint effort.” Fall is a good time for fishermen, watermen, and growers to start thinking how a Fisheries Resource Grant might help with expanding options, improving the methods, and increasing the bottom line. The RFP for 2016 projects will be announced November 1, 2015, with a January deadline for proposals.

Mike Congrove at Oyster Seed Holdings in Mathews County, VA. Assessing the broodstock used to spawn quality oyster larvae for spat on shell SOS tanks at Purcell’s Seafood in Burgess, VA.

Karen Hudson is a Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Specialist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Photos courtesy of VIMS Marine Advisory Services.

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Recent advances

in the understanding and mitigation of EMS/AHPND By Wing-Keong Ng*

As multidisciplinary research sheds more light on the characterisation, detection and mitigation of the disease, a concerted and coordinated effort by all stakeholders to network and share information will further benefit the shrimp aquaculture industry.


he Fish Health Section of the Asian Fisheries Society has grown from strength to strength since its official formation in the year 1989. The first “Diseases in Asian Aquaculture” symposium (DAA1) was held in Bali, Indonesia in 1990 and since then a successful series of eight other DAA symposiums, including the most recent one, have been held in different countries. The most recent disease to greatly affect the sustainability and profitability of global shrimp aquaculture is the acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) or more often referred to as EMS. It was therefore not surprising that this was the most attended session during the recent 12 »

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DAA9. I will only highlight the latest advances in research that were presented on this topic during the symposium. A total of 26 presentations (17 oral and 9 posters) specifically addressed EMS at this symposium.

The spread and detection of EMS in farmed shrimp Significant shrimp production losses were encountered in China in 2009 due to EMS, which spread sequentially to Vietnam (2010), Malaysia (2011), Thailand (2012) and Mexico (2013). The session on EMS/AHPND at the DAA9 started off with Professor Timothy Flegel (Mahidol University, Thailand) followed by Professor Donald Lightner (University of Ari-

zona, USA) who both gave an overview of the historical background to the detection and characterisation of this new disease. It is now well known that EMS causes massive sloughing of epithelial cells of the shrimp hepatopancreas which results in early mortality usually within the first 30 days after pond stocking of shrimp post larvae. Since March 2013, through the research of Loc Tran (Nong Lam University, Vietnam) who at that time was a PhD student at Lightner’s laboratory, the causative vector of EMS was identified as a unique strain of the bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp). Subsequent research conducted in the laboratories of Flegel, Professor Chu-Fang Lo (National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan) and Lightner has identified a large episomal plasmid carried by Vp as the source of the EMS-causing toxins released by this unique strain of bacteria. Plasmids are small circular structures of DNA that are physi-

cally separate from and can replicate independently of chromosomal DNA within the bacterial cell. The EMS-causing plasmid has since been isolated and its genome sequenced. Once its genome was known, specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based methods were developed by Lo in cooperation with Flegel to detect EMS from infected shrimp samples and the primers (strands of nucleic acid that serve as a starting point for DNA synthesis) for this were released to the public in December 2013. The PCR detection methods based on two pairs of primers are called AHPND Primer set 1 (AP1) and AHPND Primer set 2 (AP2). Subsequent testing of AP2 in detecting EMS suggested 96% accuracy with occasional false positive PCR test results. In his presentation, Flegel highlighted an improved AP3 detection method (based on toxin genes) which resulted in 100% accuracy when tested on 104 EMS-

infected samples. The related primers have been made available for free since 18 June 2014 at the website of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia Pacific (NACA). Using technology transferred from the

University of Arizona, a commercial PCR test kit for EMS is also currently available. Using PCR assay methods, Mary Maningas (University of Santo Tomas, Philippines) in her poster presentation reported the detection of EMS-causing Vp in both Penaeus vannamei and P. monodon from three farm sites in Central Luzon of the Philippines. It would seem that her study is the first to confirm the spread of EMS to the shrimp farming industry in the Philippines in 2014. In his poster presentation, Iftikhar Ahmad (Department of Fisheries, Malaysia) reported that of the 15 confirmed (via biochemical and histopathology methods) EMS samples, the primers AP1, AP2 and AP3 were not able to give a positive PCR test result while the commercial detection kit (EMS-2 from IQ2000) showed 13.3% positive. The researchers reported that there may be two major groupings of Vp in Malaysia but the reason why none of the isolates were positive against the primers AP1, AP2 and AP3 was not known. To further complicate the interpretation of data from PCR detection methods for EMS, Professor

Dr Chadag Mohan, WorldFish Center (right) was the Fish Health Section Chairperson (2011-2014) and Dr. Nguyen Van Long, Department of Animal Health, was the Secretary of the local organising committee; both were instrumental in organising the DAA9 symposium.

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Kwai-Lin Thong (University of Malaya, Malaysia) presented new evidence that Vp may not be the only Vibrio species capable of causing EMS histopathology. She detailed how one particular AP1, 2, 3 and IQ2000 PCR-positive bacteria strain was more closely related to Vibrio sinaloensis (85% homology) based on whole genome sequencing. In her presentation “Vibrio parahaemolyticus associated with shrimp mortalities in India do not have characteristics of AHPND strains”, Dr Indrani Karunasagar (Nitte University, India) reminded delegates of the complexity of Vp pathogenicity as well as its dynamic genome drawing parallels to human and mammalian pathogenic vibrios. When interpreting PCR results from EMSinfected samples, she suggested that non-Vp bacteria may also show positive AP1, AP2 and AP3 test results since the toxin gene is located on a plasmid which is a transmissible genetic element. The premise that the acquisition of new genetic material by horizontal transfer may play a pivotal role in 14 »

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shaping the Vp genome was further cemented with evidence presented by Dr Varaporn Vuddhakul (Prince of Songkla University, Thailand). She detailed how all 129 isolates of clinical and environmental Vp obtained from 2008 to 2014 in southern Thai-

land tested negative with AP2 and AP3 but 33 very recent isolates from five EMS infected shrimp farms located in the same area were tested positive for both primers. She reported that the DNA profiles of the Vp EMS isolates were distinct from the Vp of the clinical and environmental isolates. She postulated that the causative agent of EMS might have originated from one clone of Vp already present in the area that subsequently developed into different serotypes with a unique O antigen. Based on these latest developments, it would seem somewhat premature at this stage to categorically identify Vp as the direct causative agent of EMS in farmed shrimp. Evidence points to a transferable plasmid that is able to encode certain toxigenic factors which cause the rapid disintegration of the shrimp hepatopancreatic structures leading to early mortality.

Plasmids and toxins Fundamental molecular biology research conducted by Lo and her team revealed that all EMS-causing strains

Professor Timothy Flegel started the session on shrimp EMS at DAA9. Together with Professor Chu-Fang Lo, they developed the AP1, AP2 and AP3 assays which led to rapid detection of EMS in shrimp.

of Vp contained a unique plasmid which they called plasmid pAV1 which has 69,436 base pairs. She then presented data to show that pVA1 contained an operon (a cluster of coregulated genes coding for functionally related proteins) that encoded homologues to the Photorhabdus insect related (Pir) toxins, PirA and PirB. Photorhabdus is a group of gram-negative bacteria that are known to secrete toxins, including insecticidal toxins that exhibit cytotoxicity in insect midgut cells. It is now confirmed that the EMS-causing strain of Vp carries a plasmid having similar Pir genes. Lo and her team further showed that the ability of Vp to cause EMS is completely obliterated by experimental deletion of the plasmid-encoded PirA and PirB genes. Similar findings were also reported by Lightner, Sasiwipa Tinwongger (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan) and Eng-Huan Ung (Biovalence Ltd. Malaysia) independently of each other.

Mitigation of EMS Shrimp disease control at the farm level warrants an integrated health management plan which will involve not only the elimination or reduction of the pathogen but also manipulation of the culture environment and the immune defense system of the shrimp. Flegel pointed out that unlike viruses, for example the white spot disease in shrimp, EMS bacteria cannot be fully controlled by elimination of carriers. The causative agent of EMS is free-living bacteria, and as pointed out by several speakers, can persist in marine waters and sediments for an extended period even in the absence of carriers. Furthermore, we now know that the direct causative agents of EMS are the Pir toxins encoded from a plasmid which are highly mobile genetic elements. Flegel recommended that closed shrimp culture systems with enhanced biosecurity protocols be implemented to address the spread

Professor Donald Lightner and Dr Loc Tran, being interviewed by Vietnamese media at the site of DAA9. Both were instrumental in discovering the initial causative agent of EMS.

of EMS in global shrimp farming systems. Any measure that can block the cytotoxic effects of Pir toxins will greatly decrease the impact of EMS to shrimp farming. To this end, Lo presented preliminary research work in silencing the Pir toxin receptors. Another innovative approach is to inject the isolated Pir toxins into chicken eggs to produce immunoglobulin Y (IgY), the major antibody found in chickens. The isolated IgY was then used to coat shrimp feeds which were fed to shrimp before being challenged with EMS-causing Vp. Preliminary results seem to indicate that this may be potentially useful as a feed additive. Upon my inquiry after her presentation, she indicated that there is a need to find the most cost-effective way to incorporate the synthesised antibodies of the various Pir toxins into commercial shrimp feeds and she is currently working with industry partners to accomplish this. Due to proprietary issues, she indicated that further information could not be disclosed at this time.

Loc Tran presented preliminary data on feeding trials with vannamei shrimp fed with various probiotics, immunostimulants, quorum quenching additives and herbal extracts. Some of these were commercial products while a few were novel but due to non-disclosure agreements signed with various companies, the specific nature of these additives could not be revealed during his presentation. When challenged with EMS-causing Vp, shrimp fed with some of these functional feed additives showed promising results with one herbal extract imparting 100% protection against EMS infection while many others did not result in any significant improvement in preventing shrimp mortality. Dr Mathias Corteel (INVE Technologies) reported in a poster presentation the effectiveness of a proprietary phytochemical mix that improved disease and stress resistance in shrimp hatcheries. Data were provided showing the dose dependent effectiveness of the phytochemicals in suppressing the growth of Vp. The high comAquaculture Magazine

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Professor Kwai-Lin Thong and Eng-Huan Ung collaborated on research on EMS in Malaysia and both gave oral presentations at the symposium.

mercial interest in finding potential feed additives to mitigate EMS in farmed shrimp has resulted in many researchers working with industry partners but having to withhold revealing potentially sensitive research data. Nevertheless, Beng-Chu Kua (Department of Fisheries, Malaysia) in her poster presentation revealed that the extracts of betel leaves when

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Professor Chu-Fang Lo (left) together with Dr Han-Ching Wang (second left) and students from National Cheng Kung University have embarked on comprehensive research on the identification of the EMS-causing toxins using the latest molecular biology tools.

incorporated into shrimp feeds were able to impart higher shrimp survival compared to the control group when challenged with EMS causing Vp. This was partly attributed to the anti-microbial properties of the betel leaf extract. In his presentation, Dr Chumporn Soowannayan (National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand) reminded the del-

egates that in nature, bacteria live in communities as bacterial biofilms. Living in structured biofilm communities enable bacteria to proliferate more rapidly, transfer genetic material, acquire resistant genes and virulence factors, and improve their survival in hostile environments. More than 80% of all microbial infections involve biofilms. Since EMS infection is through the oral route, he hy-

Professor Indrani Karunasagar was part of the team that drafted the “Risk assessment of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in seafood” for WHO and FAO in 2011 which relates to the safety of bivalves and fish consumption, and her research work now includes EMS in shrimp.

pothesised that gut colonisation by EMS bacteria would take the form of biofilms attached to the chitinous cuticular lining. The Pir toxins are then released in the gut and enter the hepatopancreas. If EMS pathology is indeed related to biofilm formation in the gut, then any dietary intervention that inhibits or disrupts Vp biofilm formation may offer protection against EMS infection.

Concluding remarks The characterisation, detection and mitigation of the EMS outbreak in shrimp farming are still very much an evolving science. Multidisciplinary input from scientists in various research specialisations should be encouraged. What is needed is a concerted and coordinated effort by all stakeholders to network and share information for the benefit of the shrimp aquaculture industry. Research findings on mitigation measures should be seriously looked into by government policy makers to establish national strategies and policies. Field extension workers must be mobilised to translate scientific knowledge into information that shrimp farmers can easily understand so that sustainable farm-level management practices can be put in place. It will be interesting to see what further progress in the fight against EMS will be made in the next three years when we converge to meet at the next DAA symposium in Bali, Indonesia.

*Wing-Keong Ng is Professor of Aquaculture Nutrition at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia. His special interest is in developing functional feed additives for fish and shrimp to enhance sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. His current research interest includes dietary interventions for mitigation of EMS in farmed shrimp. Email:

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research report

Ammonia Nitrogen Management in Aquaculture Ponds

By Li Zhou and Claude E. Boyd*


Introduction mmonia nitrogen usually is the next most important factor after low dissolved oxygen concentration limiting the amount of fish that can be produced in a culture system. As a major component of protein and necessary nutrient for phytoplankton, nitrogen regulates the primary productivity and enhances the base of the food web culminating in cultured species. High concentrations of ammonia nitrogen, however, are toxic to aquatic animals and can cause sub-lethal or lethal effects on fish. Poor growth and feed conversion rates, reduced fecundity and fertility, and susceptibility to bacterial infections and disease have been reported in fish. Elevated ammo18 Âť

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In feed based aquaculture, 20 to 40% of the nitrogen in the protein of feeds applied to ponds is recovered in harvest biomass. The remaining 60 to 80% enters the water as uneaten feed and feces or is excreted as ammonia nitrogen by aquatic animals. Nitrogen in uneaten feed and feces is released into water as ammonia nitrogen by bacteria and other decomposer organisms. Because aquaculture is becoming increasingly intensive due to greater use of feeds, high ammonia nitrogen is inevitable and deserves more concern.

nia nitrogen in water can cause gill damage, oxygen-carrying capacity reduction in the bloodstream, lack and depletion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the brain, and liver and kidney malfunction. Moreover, ammonia nitrogen occurring with phosphorus when discharged to the environment contributes to the eutrophication of water bodies. In feed based aquaculture, 20 to 40% of the nitrogen in the protein of feeds applied to ponds is recovered in harvest biomass. The remaining 60 to 80% enters the water as uneaten feed and feces or is excreted as ammonia nitrogen by aquatic animals (Figure 1). Nitrogen in uneaten feed and feces is released into water as ammonia nitrogen by bacteria and other decomposer or-

ganisms. Because aquaculture is becoming increasingly intensive due to greater use of feeds, high ammonia nitrogen is inevitable and deserves more concern.

Temperature, pH, and Ammonia Toxicity Ammonia nitrogen occurs in water as un-ionized ammonia (NH3) and the ammonium ion (NH4+): NH3 + H2O = NH4+ + OH– The usual analytical procedures do not distinguish between ammonia and ammonium, and results are reported as total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) consisting of NH3-N and NH4+-N. Biological membranes are more permeable to NH3 than to NH4+, and ammonia toxicity is attributed primarily to NH3. The

NH3:NH4+ ratio increases with greater pH and temperature, with pH being the more important influence (Table 1). Convenient convertors for estimating the percentage of TAN present as NH3-N at different pHs and water temperatures are available on-line – an excellent one

can be found at Water temperature and pH fluctuate daily in ponds, with highest values typically occurring in early to mid-afternoon and lowest in early morning. As a result, there is much variation in the proportion of the

TAN concentration in NH3-N form at different times of the day. For example, on a summer day when TAN concentration is 1 mg L-1, a pH change from 8.0 to 9.0 with water temperature at a constant 28 ºC will raise NH3-N concentration from 0.066 to 0.412 mg L-1. If pH remains constant at 8.0, a 1 ºC increase in water temperature will increase NH3-N concentration from 0.066 to 0.070 mg L-1. Of course, both temperature and pH usually increase on a summer afternoon. In a pond where temperature and pH increase from 27 ºC and 7.5 in the morning to 31 ºC and 9.0 in the afternoon, NH3-N concentration will rise from 0.020 to 0.463 mg L-1. Ammonia toxicity is usually reported as the 96-hr LC50 – the lethal concentration of ammonia (as NH3-N) required to kill half of the test population in 96 hours. The tolerance of ammonia toxicity varies among different species. The LC50s for NH3-N generally are 1.0 – 3.0 mg/L for warmwater species and less than 1.0 mg/L for coldwater species. The 96-hr LC50 to pacific white shrimp has been reported to range from 1.20 to 2.95 mg L-1 with an average of 2.08 mg L-1; for channel catfish the range is from 1.50 to 3.30 mg L-1 with an average of 2.28 mg L-1. In realty, however, producers are concerned over the sub-lethal

The practice of applying living bacterial amendments to ponds to lessen TAN concentration is popular in Asia and is now being used by some ictalurid catfish producers in the United States.

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research report

effects of ammonia more than the LC50. The “safe� or no-observedeffect level (NOEL) of common toxins such as ammonia to aquatic animals often is considered to be 5% of the 96-hr LC50.

Concentrations and measurement TAN concentrations in ponds tend to fluctuate greatly over time (Figure 2). Concentrations of TAN in ictalurid catfish farms in Alabama usually are less than 5 mg L-1; but, concentrations between 5 and 15 mg L-1 also occur. Similar concentrations of TAN can be expected for intensive culture of other species. A recent study confirms that TAN concentrations high enough to be chronically toxic to ictalurid catfish occur rather commonly in ictalurid catfish ponds in Alabama. A recent study also revealed that the salicylate method developed by Bower and Holm-Hansen in 1980 is the most reliable method for measuring TAN concentrations in aquaculture. The widely used Nessler kit for TAN determination provides considerably greater-than-actual concentrations. On the other hand, the YSI salicylate kit is accurate, and provides an alternative to the standard salicylate method for use at aquaculture facilities.

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Ammonia management There are several ways to reduce ammonia nitrogen concentration. Although some are not long-term solutions or practical to use at production facilities, they are still worth mentioning. Measures such as adding an acid to lower pH, applying an algicide to lessen phytoplankton photosynthesis and reduce pH, or exchanging water in ponds to flush out ammonia nitrogen can be used as emergency treatments where the TAN concentration is too high. However, such treatments are expensive, they also have possible negative effects on water quality in ponds (acid and algicide treatment) and in water receiving aquaculture effluents (release nutrient-enriched or pathogen-contaminated water). They may also be difficult or impossible to implement at particular sites (water exchange). Fertilizing ponds with phosphorus promotes algae growth, thereby decreasing ammonia nitrogen through algae uptake. However, adding additional phosphorus to ponds already receiving phosphorus input from feed may cause unacceptably dense phytoplankton blooms.

Adding a source of organic matter such as manure or chopped hay can reduce ammonia nitrogen. This result is because organic matter with an elevated C/N ratio promotes immobilization of the ammonia from the water by microorganisms of decay. This practice, however, requires large amounts of organic carbon and increases the oxygen demand. Shrimp farmers in some Asian countries often apply zeolite to

Fertilizing ponds with phosphorus promotes algae growth, thereby decreasing ammonia nitrogen through algae uptake.

ponds in attempts to lower the ammonia concentration to which culture animals are exposed. This method is practical to use in transport containers for ornamental freshwater fishes, and in aquaria or water recirculating aquaculture systems, but it is not practical for largevolume fish ponds. The practice of applying living bacterial amendments to ponds to lessen TAN concentration is popular in Asia and is now being used by some ictalurid catfish producers in the United States. However, there is no evidence that this practice is effective.

Claude E. Boyd.

The best approach for avoiding high TAN concentration is to apply practices that minimize ammonia nitrogen input, increase nitrification, and lessen pH increase as follows: 1.Use a good quality feed with optimal crude protein concentration. 2.Use moderate stocking and feeding rates. 3.Feed slightly less than fish will eat to avoid overfeeding and uneaten feed. 4.Use adequate mechanical aeration to prevent dissolved oxygen concentrations from falling below 4 mg L-1 at night – around 1 hp for

Li Zhou

each 10 kg ha-1 day-1 of feed usually is adequate. Aeration favors bacterial nitrification and enhances the diffusion of NH3 from water to the air. 5.Avoid sources of ammonia nitrogen from watersheds. Livestock production on a watershed will substantially increase TAN concentration in receiving ponds. 6.Ponds with low alkalinity (< 40 mg L-1) should be treated with agricultural limestone to increase alkalinity and buffer water against pH fluctuations. 7.Ponds with low total hardness but normal alkalinity should be treated with agricultural gypsum (CaSO4 . 2H2O) to increase hardness and prevent high pH in response to high photosynthesis rates. Adoption of moderate stocking and feeding rates will not appeal to many producers. But, even in ponds with high fish production, the other practices listed above can be beneficial in limiting the concentration of TAN. Dr. Zhou holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Ocean University of China and Master’s and a Ph.D. degree from Auburn University. Her prior experience includes work as a Research Assistant at Auburn University and the Ocean University of China and an internship at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Science. Dr. Claude Boyd received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Mississippi State University and his Ph.D. from Auburn University, where he has worked for the past 44 years as a Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures.

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Kuterra Land-Based Atlantic Salmon Fishery Proves it’s an Environmentally Sustainable Option By Brenda Jones*

Kuterra’s mission is to achieve sustainable growth, create jobs and assess the feasibility of a land-based closed-containment Atlantic salmon farm. No antibiotics, pesticides or hormones are used in farming Kuterra’s salmon.

Drum filters for removing solid waste by Brenda Jones.

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onstruction of North America’s first land-based, closed-containment Atlantic salmon farm began in January 2012 just outside of Port McNeill, BC, with the first salmon harvest going to market in April 2014. Named Kuterra, the ‘Namgis First Nation launched this sustainabilityfocused aquaculture operation along with project partner Save Our Salmon Marine Conservation Foundation. It cost $9 million to build and is designed to produce 470 metric tons of fish at full capacity. The project’s three lead funders were Tides Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the ‘Namgis First Nation. A condition of most of the funding is to foster industry development; therefore, Kuterra is mandated to share information and collect indepth data, which is done through a sophisticated automated system. Kuterra has also received a great deal of helpful data and information from the Freshwater Institute in West Virginia, which researches aquaculture, including growing salmon on land.

The Care and Feeding of Atlantic Salmon Kuterra selected Atlantic salmon for its operation as there is already an established market and demand for this fish, known for its mild flavor and medium-firm texture. As the top choice for salmon farmers, it has been proven to be easy to grow.

Harvesting tank by Brenda Jones.

“This species is the underpinning of the salmon aquaculture industry,” said Jo Mrozewski, Communications Director for Kuterra. “We are setting out to prove the technological and biological feasibility of growing Atlantic salmon on land.”

Kuterra’s mission is to achieve sustainable growth, create jobs and assess the feasibility of a land-based closed-containment Atlantic salmon farm. No antibiotics, pesticides or hormones are used in farming Kuterra’s salmon, which are vaccinated as

tiny smolts. As a closed-containment facility, it poses no risk of disease transmission to wild salmon. Through a series of automated systems and protocols, Kuterra’s fish are provided with optimal growing conditions, from salinity and light to water temperature and food. Water quality is fundamental in such an operation, and automated systems monitor carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphates and solid waste. The farm currently goes through nearly 1.5 tons of feed per day. The feed has been specially developed by Skretting aquaculture feed supplier, and contains only 8 percent of fish meal and 8 percent of fish oil, in addition to poultry products and grains. The custom-built feed system provides feed during light periods based on algorithms. The fish arrive at Kuterra as tiny, 100-gram smolts. They’re placed in a 250-m3 quarantine tank, where they stay for four months, while observed to ensure they are healthy. The next

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stage is to move them into the five 500-m3 grow out tanks where they stay until they reach harvest size, an average of 3 kg. At that point they are moved into a 250-m3 harvest tank. The in-tank stocking target density is 90 kg/m3. During the final two weeks, when the salmon are in the harvest tank, they are flushed with fresh water, instead of recirculated water. From the harvest tank, they are then pumped to an automated harvest mechanism that stuns and bleeds them before they land in a large, plastic, slushfilled tote. This journey from tank to tote takes roughly 40 seconds. Kuterra’s salmon then go to Keltic Seafoods, in Port Hardy, for primary processing – gutting, filleting and grading. Final processing occurs at Albion Fisheries in Richmond.

How the Recirculating Aquaculture System Technology Works Kuterra uses recirculating aquaculture system technology, with water drawn from three on-site wells. The water is treated with ultraviolet light, CO2 is removed and oxygen added. A cleaning basin grows bacteria to filter the water and convert ammonia into nitrates, and a drum filter removes solid waste, which is collected in settling cones and used in fertilizer. All three million litres of water in the system are cleaned and recirculated every 45 – 60 minutes; the system reuses 99 percent of the water. A small amount is replaced with new water in every cycle, and the discharged water goes into a gravel bed where it is absorbed into the soil. At any one time, up to 160,000 fish

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Quarantine tank by Brenda Jones.

are on-site. In this optimized closedcontainment system, the salmon grow to a harvest weight of 3 – 5 kg in 1112 months.

Sustainability Officer at Albion. “The demand is enough to expand the offering across North America, but we just don’t have the supply to do that.” In October 2014, Kuterra’s salmon received the top green “best choice” ranking by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. It also has achieved recognition by the Vancouver Aquarium’s seafood conservation program Ocean Wise, and the SeaChoice program has given Kuterra salmon a Best Choice ranking. These sustainability rankings have brought new recognition to Kuterra, as the first commercial-scale sustainable Atlantic salmon producer in North America.

The Market for Sustainable Atlantic Salmon In its first year, 180,000 lbs of Kuterra salmon were sold, but demand outstripped supply, according to Kuterra’s distribution and marketing partner Albion Fisheries, which wholesales 2,500 different seafood items, half of which are ranked or certified sustainable. Kuterra is sold primarily to Sobeys throughout Western Canada, with 10 percent going to select independent stores and fine-dining establishments. “The challenge is we have a lim- Challenges and Future Plans ited supply,” said Guy Dean, Chief Since its launch, Kuterra has been in

a constant state of research and development. Any new operation can expect commissioning issues, and they’re even greater when the operation is pioneering new applications of technology. For more than a year the focus was on taming the technology. Now optimizing salmon growth is a primary goal. Later this year, Kuterra expects to achieve steady state operations, at which time it can assess plans for the future. Researchers are scoping a possible aquaponics pilot project, and staff are investigating on-site solid waste composting. In order to meet market demand, future expansion may include added modules for up to 2,000-3,000 metric tons, along with a hatchery. As the operation expands, Kuterra will move toward harvesting weekly instead of bi-weekly. “We still have a way to go to reach our short-term goal of making a profit and our long-term goal of catalyzing a change in the industry, but we’ve already achieved a lot, just by answer-

ing questions that had been unknowns before,” said Kuterra CEO Garry Ullstrom. “We’ve learned people are willing to pay a premium price for Atlantic salmon that they’re confident are sustainably raised without antibiotics or pesticides. We’ve confirmed that our system uses very little water, energy or land, and has no impact on the marine environment or wild salmon. And we better understand the key business plan elements for expanding our business and the industry, such as how to reduce capital costs, and the importance of developing broodstock for land-based closed systems.”

Independent Environmental Monitoring Coming to a close is the independent environmental monitoring that has been conducted through the Pacific Salmon Foundation since December, 2011, in addition to receiving assessments and approvals by government agencies and regulators. This independent overview was set up to address

questions from ‘Namgis members and to satisfy external funders, who wanted assurances that the farm is environmentally safe, and that it causes no impact on the ocean environment or the nearby river. The program looked at several aspects: construction, pathogen control, water effluent and sludge, fish health, groundwater monitoring, and smolt selection and screening. The monitor has made several recommendations in each of these areas, which Kuterra has implemented. A final report is expected this summer. “All goals have been met or exceeded,” said Terry Tebb, Director, Special Projects at Pacific Salmon Foundation. “The outflow water does not contain any pathogens.”

Brenda Jones, APR, is a freelance writer and Communications Consultant at Nyac Public Relations, based in British Columbia. Previously, she managed Public Relations at the Vancouver Aquarium for 4 years, where she helped launch its Ocean Wise seafood conservation program.

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Missing out on

Seafood Events? Taking advantage of new Phone App technology the Association of International Seafood Professionals (AISP) have created something that the industry has needed for a long time.


simple approach to ensuring that you are aware of all the major global seafood events. Everyone can download the App and be made aware of the conferences, meetings, exhibitions, etc which are happening. AISP is a Professional Association representing all individuals from all sectors of the global seafood industry community enabling interaction, understanding and collaboration; disseminating knowledge about fish, seafood and associated products; lifting values by promoting advancement in seafood research, development, extension, education and standards that will lead to a professional accredited industry. There are over 8,000 people involved in the AISP as at the end of August 2015 which possibly makes it the largest independent global seafood organisation. Membership is free and you can join here http:// join-now/. As part of the membership you get the opportunity to obtain Seafood Professionals Phone/Web App (again FREE) to connect to recognised conferences and events round the world to share information, knowledge, ideas and comments. AISP have said that they have done this to assist their members and the seafood industry in general to ensure that the industry is 26 Âť

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not caught out by predatory events which clearly cost the industry and its people time and money. AISP were made aware of the influence of predatory conferences over the past few months. Predatory publishing has been around a while and it is now spreading into conferences and events. In the case of Journals they are exploiting academics by getting them to pay fees—sometimes thousands of dollars—to publish their papers in low-grade journals, alongside anything from harmful junk science to flat out dangerous ideas. As we know these are easily transferred to the internet and lo and behold false and incorrect information is being passed on globally. An ABC Australia journalist, Hagar Cohen, investigated the issues and even went to one of the conferences to see for herself firsthand and you can listen to the 45 minute radio podcast at http://www. pglx7LEXLG?play=true to get the full story. Hagar spent some time specifically focusing on what she described as being ‘one of the biggest players in the sector’ and that group said that it publishes over 700 peer reviewed journals. The investigation discovered that half of them were defunct, and the rest were suffering a credibility problem. The report highlighted for example, that a Melbourne University academic Associate Professor was named as the editor in chief of an OMICS journal, but didn’t know about it until he was contacted by the reporter. A number of academics contacted confirmed that they had been trying to get the organisation to remove their names from the website, some for almost two years, with no success. One other example was about a lecturer in journalism, who was approached three years ago to be an editor of their journal, Mass Communication and Journalism. He accepted the offer at the time, but regretted it 28 »

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when he realised how the organisation peer review process worked. It was reported that he said “I reviewed one article for them, by a Bangladeshi academic on terrorism and the Bangladeshi media, and I thought the area of study was quite interesting, and I’m quite interested in terrorism in the media; it’s one of the areas of my expertise,” he says. “It wasn’t beyond me to review that piece. I thought the article was reasonably good, but the article itself was really badly written. The English expression, the grammar and the spelling was what I’d call very poor honors level attempt at academic English.” He wrote back saying the article needed serious editing before it could be published. But he never heard back. He later found that it was published, 20 days after he’d received the draft, and the published version was unchanged, even containing some fairly horrendous spelling mistakes. On his involvement he said “My experience seems to suggest that they don’t bother with peer review, and if they get a peer review, they don’t even pass it on to the author. It seems to me that it takes them 20 days to process an invoice. That’s how it works.” Hagar Cohen followed up at an ‘Aquaculture Conference’ run by the

organisation in Brisbane in July this year and spoke to a number of people who had clearly outlaid good sums of money to attend either as speakers or exhibition sponsors and were totally disappointed about the outcome. This issue spurred AISP to arrange the App so that only what might be called ‘genuine’ events are posted in the App. Genuine events are posted free of charge but if the event organisers want to expand to use the App and all of its capabilities they can be negotiated with AISP. To ensure you never miss a ‘genuine’ seafood event ever again you can obtain the free phone App. The application can be accessed by searching in the App Store™ and Google Play™ using keywords ‘Seafood Professionals’ or by following these links: • iPhone: WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/ viewSoftware?id=1030677830&mt=8 • Android: store/apps/details?id=com.attendify. confx6zvz3 • WebApp: http://x6zvz3.m.attendify. com/ • Landing Page: https://attendify. com/app/x6zvz3 Importantly when you download to your phone there is a user/password required – that information is available at the website above.

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How can mariculture

better help feed humanity? The primary production of the marine and the terrestrial domains are similar, ~49 and 56 Gt C year -1, respectively, and the marine primary production must likely be more readily available for grazing By Yngvar Olsen*


e harvest the ocean quite efficiently, perhaps beyond its sustainable yields, and it is therefore surprising that only some 2% of human food comes from 30 Âť

animals because it is primarily in the form of unicelular phytoplankton.

aquatic systems, including marine and freshwater aquaculture and fisheries. This number is valid for total weight based food production. For animal meat and for animal products totally (milk and egg included),

the aquatic food acquisition is more important, contributing 34 and 12%, respectively, of the total production in terrestrial and aquatic systems. The combined production of global aquaculture in the sea and in

freshwater is currently similar to that harvested from the sea. As much as 96% of the plant production is from marine aquaculture, or mariculture, whereas 44% of the total fish production is cultured. Fish is totally dominant in freshwater aquaculture (>99%). The production of seaweed has increased most rapidly over the last two decades and the production is presently similar to the sum of mollusks, crustacean and fish. The production of mollusks has also increased rapidly while crustaceans and fish that need to be fed have increased slower, over many decades. There is already a relatively severe limitation in the availability of feed resources of marine origin needed for fish and crustaceans, because almost all species maintained in intensive production are provided with some marine resources in their feed. Agricultural plant products have gradually been included in feed for

fish and shrimp over the last two decades, now representing a substantial type of resources in the feed for these carnivores. It is an ultimate challenge and question if agriculture can supply the food needed by the increasing global human population in the 21st Century, reaching 9.5 (8.3–10.9) billion by 2050, a population showing a steadily increasing buying power. Among the main concerns is supply of fresh water, availability of phosphate as fertilizers, new space needed for increasing production, environmental interactions and climate change, raising doubts about global food security in the decades to come. It is because of this situation and the “food crisis” in 2008 that many, including FAO and the Rio+20 conference, encourage fisheries and mariculture to take a more prominent role in human food security. Terrestrial agriculture is today far more important than marine food ac-

quisition, and this originates in a major difference in the human seafood chain and agriculture food chain, a difference often not considered. With a comparable input of primary production, the low seafood provision from mariculture and fisheries as compared to that from agriculture is a consequence of the additional trophic levels in the oceans. Humans feed, in fact, around two steps higher in the seafood chain than in the agriculture food chain. This fact is likely the main reason why only 1.4% of our food comes from the marine domain, or totally 1.9% comes from aquatic systems. It is a main challenge to reduce, if not close, that gap. The metabolic losses originating from a high number of trophic transfers must then be reduced, and mariculture opens several options to reduce these losses which are not available in fisheries. The challenge has scientific, technological and social implications, interacting with policy questions regarding natural resources. It is a great challenge for the aquaculture industry, science and society in the 21st Century. A general objective of developing mariculture is accordingly to continue increasing seafood production in mariculture by reducing the number of trophic transfers in the seafood chain, meaning that cultured animals, and thereby also humans, should be moved to lower trophic levels in the seafood chain. The increased production must not compromise functional ecosystems and biodiversity. All human activities have environmental costs, but the influence must be kept within acceptable limits. The objective is clear and it will become paramount that Governments of coastal states, all involved stakeholders and society must support that development. Known constraints for the further development and expansion of mariculture involve legal questions, technology, feed resources, coastal space, environmental interactions and an efficient infrastructure, and new upcom» 31


ing constraints will likely appear. An overall strategy for developing mariculture should be based on a roadmap for how this objective can be achieved. It is important to note that this development toward reducing the number of trophic transfers in the seafood chain is already ongoing, but it is normally not thought of in terms of shortening the seafood chain. Seaweeds and mollusks farming are the fastest growing sectors in global mariculture, showing that the production in mariculture already for two decades has developed toward lower trophic levels. Moreover, the feed resources used for farmed carnivore animals are increasingly coming from agricultural plants, and because of this, carnivore fish are already moved more than one trophic level down in the food chain as compared to their wild stocks. It is likely that mariculture and aquatic food production can only become more important relative to terrestrial agriculture if the ratio of plants:animals produced in mariculture (1.1 in 2013) becomes more similar to that in agriculture (7.7), because there are obvious resource limitations for production of carnivore animals in the sea. More seaweed production is needed to include more seaweed products in the feed of cultured marine animals, and this will likely also result in more use of seaweed for human food, like in many Asian countries. The fundamental aspects above have implications for all common scientific issues of aquaculture, and an overall general strategy of developing mariculture might among others involve: • Culture more low trophic level species or groups (e.g., omnivore fish, mollusks and seaweed). • Bring carnivore fish and crustaceans to lower trophic level by using more feed resources from low trophic level, e.g., seaweed, microbes, plants and other non-fish resources. • Use the available fish meal and 32 »

fish oil in an optimal way, as the available quantity will likely become reduced with time. • Strive for more ecological thinking in mariculture, the wastes of one organism is the food for another, integrate cultures. • Comply with regulations to reduce and control environmental interactions of mariculture, at cultivation sites and in the entire life cycle of mariculture. • Adopt established technology and systems from current aquaculture practices to new systems and organisms, including production systems, methods of cultivation, and health and welfare management. The challenge of preparing feeds for carnivore animals based on plant or ingredients from cultures of microbes is not trivial; a nutritionally adequate feed for fish must contain sufficient amounts of marine lipids with long chain, highly unsaturated fatty acids (e.g., DHA), which are important for human health and only abundant in aquatic food chains. This challenge has been less in agriculture where the domesticated animals are herbivores. The dominant species and groups produced in future mariculture will likely depend on our ability to establish new feed resources with a marine lipid profile. There are few attractive herbivore fish species in the marine environment, and extractive organisms like mollusks and seaweed will become more dominant if feed resources become even more limiting. In the efforts to derive new feed resources, an overall aim should also be to establish resources that are not major components of the human food chain (e.g., taken from today’s commodity markets) and to take most of these new resources from the sea in order to establish a more self-sufficient mariculture food chain on a longer time perspective. It should not be taken for granted that society will accept that agricultural food products for human food

are used widely for animal production in the future. In a scenario of expanding production, it is important that most coastal nations have non-protected coasts and will need aquaculture production systems for exposed coastal waters, which is generally not commercially established. The production of juvenile plants and animals will still normally be undertaken in land based or protected sea locations, and reuse of water and saving of energy for heating water have become important issues. For many regions and costal states, the questions on available coastal space together with international legislation that regulates commercial activities in international waters is an important consideration, bringing in aspects of governance. Other questions regarding mariculture expansion involve species and group diversification, biology and zoo-techniques for cultivation,

feeding and nutritional requirements, efficiency in feed utilization, and health and welfare issues for new and already cultured groups and species. These are questions raised in aqua-

culture research and development in recent times, and are still important for further expansion. New enabling technologies and methods of biotechnology, including industrial bio-

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technology, will likely become important for developing mariculture. Other important enabling technologies involve material technologies (e.g., nano-technology) and aspects of information technologies, and modeling of processes will continue to develop. Dependent of hydrodynamic and other water use, mariculture activities may interact with the marine environment. Pollution from other industries and densely populated urban settlements may threaten seafood safety. Aquaculture sites release metabolic wastes and sometimes also toxic compounds, for example components originating from pharmaceutical agents. Both environmental- and resource footprints of 34 »

mariculture revealed through impact studies and life cycle studies are important, including the influence of and on the global carbon cycle and climate. These issues, as well as genetic and disease aspects related to escapes of farmed organisms, bring in aspects of economy, management and governance as specific challenges faced by mariculture worldwide. The food production level of global mariculture can only approach that in agriculture if the number of trophic transfers and the metabolic losses in the seafood chain can be reduced, which means that humans eating seafood are moved to lower trophic levels. Such changes have as mentioned characterized developments in mariculture already for a

decade or two, and must continue. Joining forces and taking the right steps, it is a reasonable expectation that the protein production in the sea will exceed that in agriculture. If the total production in mariculture continues to grow by 6–7% yr-1 as through 2000–2013, it will reach 500–600 Mt by 2050.

This article was originally published (Open Access) in Marine Fisheries, Aquaculture and Living Resources, a section of the journal Frontiers in Marine Science Citation: Olsen Y (2015) How can mariculture better help feed humanity? Front. Mar. Sci. 2:46. doi: 10.3389/ fmars.2015.00046

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Oyster Hatchery Opens on Grand Isle, Louisiana

On August 12, officials with Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) celebrated the opening of the newly constructed Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery on Grand Isle.


onstruction on the oyster hatchery began in April 2013. The elevated and temperature-controlled hatchery features a state-of-the-art re-circulating water system that will enable production of hatchery-raised larvae and spat to occur year-round, significantly increasing the production capacity over previous years. The facility was funded through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment early restoration process. “Oysters are very important to the history and culture of our state,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “This oyster hatchery is a very important tool in rehabilitating the state’s valuable oyster resources in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” Since 1993, LSG has operated an oyster hatchery on Grand Isle in various locations. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the hatchery. It was rebuilt, but then razed again 36 »

in 2008 by Hurricane Gustav. LSG subsequently moved its operations to the LDWF Grand Isle marine research lab, which has allowed LDWF and LSG to merge academic research projects and hatchery programs that benefit both the commercial harvesting sector and aid in management of the public seed grounds. “LSU is proud of the role our scientists play in Louisiana’s world-famous oyster industry, which supplies more than a third of our country’s oysters,” said Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander. “This hatchery will provide critical support to a resource that is integral to our state’s culture and identity.” “Louisiana Sea Grant has a long history of supporting our state’s oyster industry, and an equally long history of working in partnership with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries,” said Robert Twilley, LSG executive director. “With this partnership, we look forward to entering into a new commitment of research

All photos courtesy Louisiana Sea Grant.

and service that benefits our state’s oyster growers and harvesters.” LDWF is responsible for operating and maintaining the new oyster hatchery facility. Through an agreement with the department, LSG will provide technical direction on production of larvae and spat and training for LDWF staff under supervision of Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter bivalve specialist John Supan. Most of Supan’s recent research has focused on developing a broodstock for producing triploid oysters, which have higher summertime meat yields. He has also examined alternative oyster growing systems, including off-bottom cultivation techniques. Currently, LDWF deploys hatchery-raised oyster larvae (Crassostrea virginica) on the public seed grounds through remote setting spat on-shell and by deploying free swimming larvae. Approximately 13 million spat and 400 million larvae were produced each year, on average, with past operations for use by LDWF in public seed ground rehabilitation projects. The new hatchery is capable of producing 1 billion Crassostrea vir-

ginica oyster larvae annually. Those larvae will be utilized by LDWF for augmentation of six early restoration cultch plants. Any excess diploid larvae will be used for various oyster rehabilitation projects on the public seed grounds. Rep. Gordon E. Dove of Houma, through legislation, named the hatchery after the late Michael C. Voisin of Houma. Voisin, who passed away in 2013, was a respected innovator in the oyster industry and served in many leadership roles, including Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner and Chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant (www.laseagrant. org) has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico. » 37



in arid zones


quaponics is a technique that combines fish production with a recirculating element which takes full advantage of the nutrient-rich waste water from traditional aquaculture to grow plants in a hydroponic loop. This same practice was used by the Aztecs and was known as “chinampas”. They grew vegetables for their city of Teotehuacan in Lake Xochimilco. Today aquaponics is quickly gaining popularity with growers and hobbyists due to its natural simplicity and the wide variety of healthy products that can be cultivated this way. “Today, not only are we looking for ways to be sustainable in our practices, but these systems must also be commercially viable and bring a return on investment,” says Carlos Leon Ramos, Director of BOFISH and the President of the International Aquaponics Society. “In that sense, Mexico is on the leading edge of this technology,” he adds. Carlos and his team have developed what he calls a “Hybrid Recirculating System” which combines Biofloc, Nitrification and Aquaponics allowing the operator greater flexibility and some of the benefits of each of these individual tecniques. He couples these practices with alternative energy production, subproduct waste processing, evaporation capture; elements which each contribute to the overall sustainability of the project. 38 »

Aquaculture in arid zones is a great challenge for businesses looking for sustainable systems that reduces water use, are more energy efficient and that benefit from waste reduction as well as lower basic input costs such as feed.

Baja California in Northern Mexico is one of the states that is betting on this technology. Last year saw the construction of 5 commercial installations that produce Tilapia and vegetables as well as 2 shrimp farms, which are paired with salt-tolerant plants. This effectively makes Baja California the state with the most commercial aquaponic installations in the world! According to the National Comission on Arid Zones (CONAZA): “Baja California Sur is a state currently investing funds in order to spread this novel practice within its arid zones.” Biologist, Felipe de Jesús Gonzalez Díaz, CONAZA representative com-

ments, “We are confident that these innovative systems will help revolutionize the way in which we produce sustainable food locally, as well as on a global level. “We are very proud this year to have La Paz hosting the 6th International Aquaponics Congress & the 2nd Global Symposium on Aquaculture in Arid Zones and invite everyone interested in exchanging ideas to participate.” For more information about the Sixth International Congress of aquaponics and 2nd aquaculture world symposium in arid areas. Please call to: +52 (33) 12-01-07-73 email to:

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Health & Genetics Draw Customers to Dutchboy Farms


here’s 1,000 gallons per minute of 83 degree water flowing from a spring in the Caribou Mountains of Southern Idaho, from an aquifer estimated to be 7,000 feet deep. For someone already making a living raising fish, it was not much of a decision to build a tilapia farm there. John Lambregts came to the US in 1987, and earned a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M in 1992. By 2000, he had more than 10 years experience raising and marketing fish in Idaho and Texas, and developing this spring was the next logical step. He built a small, six raceway, grow-out farm. One of the biggest struggles on the new farm was disease control. In the last decade, and even today, many tilapia farms were struggling with several species of streptococcus as well as a variety of opportunistic aeromonas / pseudomonas species All of the commercially available fingerlings were susceptible to one or more of these disease agents, and many farms weren’t able to overcome the associated problems, even with vaccination programs. Another approach was needed. When vaccines didn’t work, John went on a search for a strain of tilapia that had natural resistance to the endemic diseases. In 2006, the company took a chance and imported the first batch of fish from Nam Sai Farms in Thailand. Owner Warren Turner has been selecting disease resistant tilapia for his 40 »

Aquaculture Magazine

What was an occasional importation to supply our own modest little farm has grown into a separate facility that supplies nearly 5 million tilapia fingerlings annually around the North American continent.

breeding programs, and these fish turn out to have excellent resistance to the strain of streptococcus in Idaho. As a matter of fact, within a year of switching to the Nam Sai stock, the farm tested negative for streptococcus, and has tested negative on the bi-annual health tests ever since.

It wasn’t long before other farms asked if we would import fingerlings for them as well. Of course, once we started offering fingerlings to our colleagues in the region, we started getting unsolicited inquiries from as far away as Maine. The world did beat a path to our doorstep in the Idaho mountains!

Water The spring water supplying the Dutchboy Farms hatchery comes from the geologically active Caribou range in South East Idaho. Only 230 miles from Yellowstone National Park, and fed by the same “hot spot”, the water is filtered through 7,000 ft of limestone rock structure and returns to the surface as pure, clean, hard spring water, ideal for fish like tilapia.

People Dutchboy Farms is operated by John Lambregts. Richard Ambrosek (M.S. in Animal Science) manages the warm water facility and the cold water (trout) facilities are managed by John’s son, Anthony Lambregts. Anthony is developing a cold water hatchery to increase the selection the company has to offer.

Genetics “Working with Warren Turner at Nam Sai Farms has been a pleasure. Warren has always listened to our comments and feedback, and we can track the improvements in our production numbers over the years. 10 years ago, it was not uncommon for farms to need 10 to 12 months to bring a tilapia to market size. Now, we do it in 6 to 7 months. Some of the improvement can be attributed to better feed, but the primary factor is much better genetics.”

What was an occasional importation to supply our own modest little farm has grown into a separate facility that supplies nearly 5 million tilapia fingerlings around the North American continent. Given our own experience, disease control is critically important, and the entire fingerling program is built around our bio security protocol. One key is that the spring water that supplies the farm is sterile (due to

extremely high levels of nitrogen gas and CO2), so there is no possibility of external disease introduction. Another is that the hatchery building is disinfected and dried up every five weeks. Before a new batch is taken into the hatchery building, the water supply is shut down, the entire building and all troughs are flooded with disinfectant and then heated and dried out for several days. The next batch is then brought into the facility and kept in

isolation for 4 to 5 weeks. This way, there is no vertical transmission between groups of fish, and if there ever is an introduction of disease, it will be stopped. Still, John reminds us, disease control is great, but disease RESISTANCE is the real key to success. Even farms with the best bio-security protocols can get breached, and then the disease resistance of the fish can save a farm. It is all about risk management. Our job is to find the best genetic stock, no matter where on earth, and make it available to small and large producers alike. Just like with the tilapia fingerlings, once we started experimenting with barramundi and pangasius catfish from various sources, customers started coming to us for fingerlings. After a few years of experimenting with stock from several suppliers, we now have established programs with two of the best hatcheries in the world, and are supplying fingerlings to a number of grow-out farms.

Aquaculture Magazine

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europe report

European Commission

Continues to Promote Aquaculture In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 80,000 people. EU aquaculture is renowned for its high quality, sustainability and consumer protection standards.


U overall output has been more or less constant in volume since 2000 whereas global production has been growing at nearly 7% per year. The Commission intends to boost aquaculture through the Common Fisheries Policy reform, and has published Strategic Guidelines presenting common priorities and general objectives at EU level. Four priority areas have been identified in consultation with all relevant stakeholders: • Reducing administrative burdens • Improving access to space and water • Increasing competitiveness • Exploiting competitive advantages due to high quality, health and environmental standards. On the basis of the guidelines, the Commission and EU countries will collaborate to help increase the sector’s production and competitiveness. EU countries are asked to set up multiannual plans to promote aquaculture. The Commission will help with the coordination and exchange of best practices. Farmed in the EU - This campaign promotes sustainable seafood and highlights the importance of aquaculture. Here are some excerpts from the Commission’s Q&A section of the Farmed in the EU webpages: 42 »

Why do we need fish farming in the first place? Eating fish is good for your health, but there are not enough wild fish and shellfish to meet existing demand. Sustainable fishing goes hand-in-hand with fish farming. Only together they can produce enough fish to meet the demands of the growing global population without jeopardizing the long term future of our wild fish stocks. In the EU we rely on imports for 68% of the seafood we eat. A significant proportion of which comes from fish farms. Only 10% of our consumption is farmed in the EU. Bringing more farmed fish to our plates means less pressure on wild fish stocks, less reliance on imports, and more jobs and growth in our local economies.

scallops, lobsters, tilapia, sturgeon (caviar), and even intensively targeted wild species such as turbot, cod and sole. The algae production is developing. For more details, visit: cfp/aquaculture/species/index_ en.htm

How are fish farmed? Shellfish such as mussels and oysters are grown on ropes, poles or tablelike structures. They require clean water to feed on the nutrients suspended in the water. Marine fish such as salmon and sea bass are farmed in large net pens suspended on the sea’s surface. Freshwater fish such as trout are usually farmed in a series of tanks through which river water is diverted. Other freshwater fish such What are the major species as carp are farmed in large lakes and ponds. farmed in the EU? Approximately 50% of the aquaculture production in the EU is shell- Is it true that aquaculture can fish. Mussels and oysters are the most damage the environment? popular shellfish. Marine fish such as Like any other human activity, aquasalmon, sea bream and sea bass rep- culture must be managed sustainresent about 27% of our fish farm ably and responsibly. Like any kind produce whilst freshwater fish such of food producers, fish farmers are as trout and carp account for 23% of bound by environmental and health standards. The EU’s environmental fish farmed in the EU. The species farmed in the EU are standards are among the strictest very diverse and also include clams, and most effective in the world. But

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europe report

fish farmers must also play a wider proactive role in protecting the environment: for instance aquaculture ponds help preserve important natural landscapes and habitats for wild birds and other endangered species. Shellfish contribute to cleaner coastal waters by absorbing nutrients which could otherwise damage water quality. Ultimately, sustainability is also good commercial agreement and fish farmers are at the forefront in monitoring and protecting the environment to ensure that there is no damaging impact.

Is farmed fish really as healthy as wild fish? EU legislation sets strict rules, including maximum levels for contaminants, to ensure that our food is safe. These limits are the same for both farmed and wild fish whilst a strict system of official controls ensures that only healthy food arrives on our tables whether it stems from the EU or from abroad. It takes more than one kg of wild fish to produce 1kg of farmed salmon. So does it make sense to feed farmed fish with wild fish? The fact that carnivorous fish such as salmon depend on wild fish for feed inevitably presents a challenge for sustainable aquaculture. By improving the availability and use of alternatives, and increasing feed efficiency, the amount of wild fish consumed per kilo of farmed fish produced is continuously decreasing. In addition to sustainability considerations, there is also a clear economic incentive for farmers to reduce the use of wild fish used, as this is one of their main production costs. The Commission intends to assist the sector in further improving this situation. However, it is worth remembering that half of the EU aquaculture production in volume comes from shellfish, which do not need any additional feed. Non-carnivorous fish such as carp also figure in the mix. 44 »

An insight into aquaculture with trout farmers of Cologne From the E.C. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Online Magazine Elmar Mohnen, owner of Mohnen Aquaculture (based near Cologne, Germany), and his two young employees Austen Kime and Nadine Wenke share their experiences of life in the trout farming business: its challenges, joys, and prospects for the future.

Austen Kime: Why have you chosen aquaculture as a career? When did you become interested in fish and fish farming? “An interesting turn of events led me to aquaculture although I’ve been interested in fish since I was very young. I initially set my sights on becoming a forester. When my family moved

to Germany, I’d often walk my dog along the forest path next to the fish farm and would always be amazed by the different machines and goings-on there. Friends put me in touch with the manager, and I arranged two weeks’ work experience. I enjoyed the work a great deal, and when I was offered an apprenticeship, with a “commute” time of two minutes and a physically challenging, outdoor job, I didn’t really hesitate.” As a British citizen, why have you chosen to work in Germany? Was it easy to move and adapt to work? “Although I’m originally English, I spent much of my teen life in Scotland and my parents and I moved away to Germany when I was 16. “As for adapting to the work on the fish farm, it certainly took a good month or two before all the aches, pains and blisters started to go away, but once your body becomes used to the physical exertion of the daily routine, it starts to become a lot more resistant and healthy.” What do you do concretely on a daily basis? “My daily work mainly involves cleaning, feeding and noting temperatures. At the start of my day we may need to load fish into lorries to be delivered to the smoking site, or to other cus-

Courtesy Lisac Mark USFWS.

tomers. If no loading is required, the pond outflow grates will need clearing, we may need to move fish into another pond and then the fish food will be prepared and distributed. In the afternoon, there is the second round of food and towards late afternoon, I clean the bacteria filter using an oxygen and water pump system at the outflow of the fish farm to ensure the outgoing water is as low in pollution as possible. On most days, something creative also needs doing: from sorting out infant fish to maintaining the many vehicles used onsite.”

tat. I was hooked at quite an early age, through fishponds and aquariums. So it was only natural that I should choose this path, particularly as I like working outdoors in the fresh air, being active, and doing physical work.

the business finally showed signs of success. From 1972, it continued to develop until today, with four sites, an international firm with live fish, significant in-house production and now approximately 25 employees.”

As a young woman, what would you say to people who are of the opinion that fish farming is not a suitable career for a woman? “This job is not a piece of cake. As a woman, you are at a disadvantage as far as strength is concerned, so you have to compensate with dedication and hard work. It is possible to gain a foothold in this profession as a woman, but the “tenacity” and effort required may put some people off.”

How is your company developing? Have you received any support from the EU? How could the EU help you? “In the last 20 years, we have received several hundred thousand euros of EU and regional funding as investment support, which has been extremely helpful. EU support will be even more important when it comes to changing our image. For nearly 20 years now, the general public have seen fish farming and aquaculture as a dodgy backwater. Improving the general public’s perception is one of the key tasks of the profession and of all the institutions which support it.”

Elmar Mohnen: When did you start your career in fish farming? Tell us a bit about your passion for fish and the story of your company. “Our company started in 1959, when our father, who was farming an agricultural smallholding, visited an agricultural exhibition in Cologne where Nadine Wenke: he met a trout farmer who drew his Why did you decide to follow a career in fish attention to the emerging trout farmfarming? When and how did you become in- ing industry. terested in fish and fish farming? “The beginning was precarious, and “The job is very exciting and varied. in the second year the local fire brigade You learn everything there is to know had to rescue the young trout from about fish: from the egg to the plate. suffocating in high summer temperaWorking with fish is great fun, partic- tures with a virtually non-existent flow ularly if you have a positive relation- of fresh water. After 13 years filled ship with the animals and their habi- with setbacks and disappointments,

How do you react to criticism of fish farming? How do you dispel your customers’ misgivings? “I have rarely been confronted with open criticism, but there are issues such as animal welfare, feed ingredients, environmental influences, etc. The simplest and most effective way of dealing with customer misgivings is to be open and truthful, which includes accepting weaknesses and shortcomings.” Tell us about your experience and your opinion regarding the development of the fish farming industry in Europe. “The fish farming industry in Europe is developing at different rates. In Central Europe, the industry is, as a rule, not yet powerful enough to bring about any real change. But this is similar in many other industries as well. The future of the industry in the highly developed nations of Central Europe depends on an ability to make young people enthusiastic about this profession.”


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Latin American Report

Latin American Report Recent News and Events

Honduran farmed shrimp.

On May 28, 2015, Undercurrent News reported that a Research Associate at the University of Arizona stated that shrimp sampled in 2013 and 2014 from 3 farms in two Central American countries had tested positive for EMS

By Yojaira Paternina Cordoba*

Honduras Declares it is Free of Early Mortality Syndrome n early August, the Minister of the Secretariat for Agriculture and Livestock, Jacobo Paz, has clarified that the country is currently free from Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS), which can affect farmed shrimp. Speaking to El Tiempo, a national newspaper, the official noted the significance of shrimp exports and production, which ac-

I 46 »

cording to government estimates were worth over USD$250 million in 2014. In spite of falling prices, government estimates for the current year indicate total production will reach between 29,000 and 31,000 metric tons. Secretary Paz stated that no scientific evidence exists to indicate that Honduran farmed shrimp are being affected by EMS, and that this contradicts accusations from pro-

ducers in Mexico that the disease was causing losses in his country.

Recirculating Pilot Project Starts Up in Northern Chile Northern Chile is about to have its first low-cost recirculating system for marine fishes. The installation will form a part of the project “Development of a pilot plant for growout of the yellowtail amberjack, Seriola lalandi.”

The concept is to construct and operate a low-cost, land-based and easily replicable prototype system for adoption by artisanal fishermen or entrepreneurs on a diverse range of scales. During the project so far, data has been obtained regarding optimum densities in each phase of production, improved transfer and handling practices, and a number of other factors of interest. In this way, officials from the Center for Applied Ocean Research (Centro de Investigacion Aplicada del Mar, or CIAM) emphasized, a new economic activity can begin in the region, which will be encouraged by the climatic and geographic conditions found in the Arica and Parinacota districts. It should be noted that this initiative is part of an ongoing collaboration between Corfo Corpesca SA (a regional fish processing corporation), CIAM and the University of Tarapaca. The goal of this joint effort is to insure that innovative and diversified fish production activities will play a fundamental role in the challenge to move toward sustainable fisheries, which in turn will be a driving force for economic development in the region.

CONAPESCA (Mexico) Identifies Great Opportunities for Exports To promote the advancement and consolidation of fisheries and aquaculture activities, it will be necessary to support the development of businesses focused on the commercial production of high-value species for international markets, stated Mario Aguilar Sanchez, head of the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA). He emphasized that thanks to Mexico’s natural resources of 11500 km (7,150 miles) of coasts and 6,500 square km (2500 square miles) of interior water bodies, as well as 67 fishing ports divided between both coasts where some 2300 large vessels and docks

From small-scale farms to industrial operations, tilapia production is increasing in Mexico.

are found, and some 52,000 inland fishing vessels, fishery activities generate significant volumes of highquality food products. Referring to the nation’s aquaculture infrastructure, Aguilar Sanchez pointed out that over 9,200 aquaculture farms are operating in Mexico, including 1447 for shrimp, 4623 for tilapia, 117 for oysters, 146 for carp,

1834 for trout, 353 for catfish, and 710 for other aquatic species. “There are more than 300,000 persons directly participating in these activities in Mexico, of which 21% work in acuaculture and 79% in capture fisheries,” he told representatives from food industries in 16 countries from America, Asia and Europe, who were gathered for the

Seriola lalandi, soon to be farmed in Northern Chile.

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Latin American Report

Marine fish production is scaling up in Mexico – as seen in these nursery cages for red drum.

Mario Aguilar Sanchez, head of the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) pointed out that over 9,200 aquaculture farms are operating in Mexico, including 1447 for shrimp, 4623 for tilapia, 117 for oysters, 146 for carp, 1834 for trout, 353 for catfish, and 710 for other aquatic species. ProMexico Global “Conference for Agro-Food Businesses.” Aguilar Sanchez indicated that in the prior year Mexico exported fisheries and aquaculture products valued at USD$1,129,000,000 and that this represented only 0.8 percent of global exports. Shrimp was the principal export product, with a primary market in the U.S., with an estimated 21,419 metric tons valued at USD$319.4 million. He remarked that among the various strategies for supporting the fishery and aquaculture sectors, CONAPESCA has several that apply 48 »

directly to exports such as financing for modernization of processing plants and fishing vessels, strengthening cold storage chains, promoting mariculture, support for the shrimp farming sector, boosting value-added activities and incentives for energy efficiency. He added that in terms of financing, various debt instruments are available for cold storage and cold chain enterprises to commercialize products for export. Finally, as Aguilar Sanchez pointed out, a total of 20 million hectares (approximately 50 million acres) of territory have been identified as

Programs for genetic improvement of tilapia are expanding in a number of countries.

having a high suitability for aquaculture production of various species, including tilapia, shrimp, catfish, marine fishes, mussels, oysters and carp, among others. He observed that, as is the case in most countries around the world, fisheries harvests have hit a plateau and future growth in supplies will come from aquaculture, which is growing rapidly.

Investigators at INAPESCA Work on Development of Biotechnology for Utilization of Macro Algae Researchers at the National Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA) are working on the development of biotechnology for the use of macro algae that occur along the coast of Baja California. These algae can be processed and used as food for species such as sea urchins, abalone, several varieties of fish and for cultivated shrimp, among others, in fish farms in the region said Enrique Hernandez Garibay, leader of a project involving the Autonomous University of Baja California and the company Algas y Extractos del Pacifico Norte. Some species of macro algae are used as food or food supplements, and they are also a rich source of bioactive compounds (polyunsaturated fatty acids, sulfated polysaccharides, antioxidant compounds, etc.) whose functions include eliminating free radicals, lowering

Shrimp farms in Nicaragua and Honduras surround the Gulf of Fonseca.

Mexican red tilapia.

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Latin American Report

Juvenile shrimp in Guatemala, where producers are constantly monitoring for any presence of EMS.

A skilled workforce is emerging in aquaculture operations throughout Latin America.

50 Âť

cholesterol and blood pressure, and fighting tumors and cancer, among others. Macro algae, if harvested directly from the sea, can be an alternative feeding approach when applied during fattening of organisms in aquaculture production in the region. Also, researchers have conducted experiments examining in-vitro degradation, associating characteristics such as color (green, red and brown), with treatments such as sun exposure with daily monitoring of material degradation by the action of bacteria and the environment. Importantly, since antiquity, macro algae have been used as soil amendments in some coastal areas of the world. In this sense, large amounts of algal biomass are placed in rocky or sandy soil and with the passage of time, a layer of humus is formed, enough to support farming since the algae provides nutrients and also increases the water retention capacity. Also, in some regions of the world macro algae are used in the manufacture of flour or in the production of agricultural fertilizers, either by composting mixed with other agricultural waste or through the application of different chemical treatments. Therefore, the seaweeds found on different coasts of Mexico, if utilized properly, could be a window of opportunity for many productive activities in the country.

Yojaira Paternina Cordoba has a degree in Animal Husbandry from the National University of Colombia. She currently manages production, technical and marketing activities at Piscicola del Valle, S.A., specializing in production of red tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) and the white cachama (Piaractus brachypomus).

THE Shellfish CORNER

Filter Feeding Bivalves

as Processors of Coastal Waters Bivalves have a profound role in controlling the boom & bust cycles of seasonal phytoplankton blooms, and the increased rates of sediment deposition to the bottom by bivalves are an important “coupler” between the water column and the bottom that stimulates the rates of By Michael A. Rice*

decomposition and other processes in the sediments.


n most of North America, commercial shellfish aquaculture and shellfish restoration efforts are conducted in coastal public trust waters that require approval by a governmental body of some sort that is responsible for the permitting or licensing of such activities. Frequently such approval proceedings are deliberative in nature and the public is invited for comment as part of the permitting process. And often times, the public attendees of such hearings are completely unfamiliar with what the project is all about, or even worse, might be misinformed and espousing an exaggerated view about the potential negative impacts of aquaculture in the public waterways. Many of the concerned citizens may have read articles about environmental damage caused by some forms of aquaculture in far-away places, or they may have heard from a local public aquarium or environmental conservation organization that somehow farming of fish and shellfish in public waters is environmentally damaging and thus, not acceptable. However, in the context of public hearings, the rhetoric of “environmental threat” is frequently

Figure 1. Filter feeding oysters have the ability to filter black colloidal graphite (Aquadag) particles in the 10_m size range from seawater. Twenty four oysters held in about 5 gallons (about 20 liters) of seawater can clear the tank of graphite in less than an hour. Photo by Michael A. Rice

used as a proxy for simple social unacceptability of the project. This is because in many jurisdictions, the potential for official denial based upon environmental threat of a proposed project is a legally more defensible

argument than a project proposal based upon some vague not-in-mybackyard (NIMBY) claim. To counter much of this rhetoric of environmental threat in public meetings, shellfish farmers and shell» 51

THE Shellfish CORNER

Shellfish farmers and shellfish restoration biologists alike are making a good contribution to the management of coastal ecosystems by increasing the amount of shellfish in the water.

Figure 2. The Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory (MERL) mesocosm tanks at the Narragansett Bay Campus of the University of Rhode Island circa 2000. Photograph from Wikimedia Commons.

fish restoration biologists alike have been quick to point out that oysters, clams, mussels and other bivalves are filter feeders that get their food by pumping water and by extracting phytoplankton and detritus particles from the water stream to serve as their food. In the filter feeding process, large populations of bivalves will process considerable volumes of water. Indeed, as early as 1877 pioneering marine ecologist Karl August Möbius in his classic monograph Die Auster und die Austernwirtschaft (The Oyster and Oyster Farming) was first to describe the filter feeding of oysters and oyster reef ecology. In more modern times (1982) James Cloern working in San Francisco Bay, and Charles Officer, Ted Smayda and Roger Mann working in Chesapeake and Narragansett Bays pointed out that filter feeding mollusks could remove particles from estuarine waters, affect phytoplankton populations, and act as an intermediary in cycling inorganic nutrients within the ecosystem. In 1988 Roger Newell published some calculations showing that the decline of oyster populations in Chesapeake Bay over the past century has decreased the 52 »

amount of water being filtered and processed by the oysters considerably, with the oysters in the late 19th Century filtering the entire volume of water of the Bay in just 3 or 4 days. But by the 1980s, his calculations showed that it took well over a year for the reduced population of Chesapeake oysters to filter the same volume of Bay waters. The formidable filtration capacity of populations of bivalves can be demonstrated over time in aquaria as a nice visual of this effect in the accompanying figure, and a nice time lapse video of the process can be found at the You Tube website here: If one extrapolates these visuals of bivalves filtering and clarifying waters of an aquarium, there is a great temptation to conclude that back in the “good old days” of massive oyster populations acting as natural filters of the estuaries, the waters might have been much clearer than they are now. And of course, one of the expected outcomes of a massive public project to restore oyster populations to Chesapeake Bay in the 1990s and early 2000s was that the water would be much clearer with more oysters.

But unfortunately it did not really work out that way, mostly because the story is not quite as simple as the oysters just filtering the water. From an ecological standpoint, so much more is also going on in the estuary. Back in the summer of 2000 in order to test the idea that Narragansett Bay waters were much clearer 90 years earlier when oyster populations were 100 times more abundant, my student Jennifer Mugg Pietros devised a study using experimental mesocosm tanks that were 7 cubic meters in seawater volume. Into three of the tanks she put 200 oysters each, and three more of the tanks had no oysters. The 200 oysters-per-tank density was chosen to approximately match the relative filtration rate of the estimated oyster population in Narragansett Bay in 1910. Then for a five month period she monitored a whole host of water quality parameters and the amounts of sediments being deposited onto all tank bottoms that were clean initially. Additionally, she made some laboratory measurements of ammonia excretion rates by the oysters. She found that over the course of the experiments, there was no significant difference between the tanks with oysters and the control tanks in terms of amount of ammonia and other inorganic nitrogenous nutrients or the amount of chlorophyll in the water or the amount of particulate organic material in the water. But there was a profound difference in the species

composition of phytoplankton between the oyster tanks and the oyster-free control tanks, and tanks with oysters collected more bio-deposit sediments on the bottom (for details see Pietros & Rice. 2003. Aquaculture 220:407-422). To some extent, results of no differences in chlorophyll levels and particulate organic carbon in the water between the oyster tanks and oyster-free controls might be somewhat surprising given the “I-can-see-it-formyself ” aspect of the small aquarium demonstrations. But as it turned out, the amount of nitrogen in the ammonia being excreted by the oysters quite closely matched the amount of organic nitrogen expected to be in the new-growth phytoplankton in the tanks with oysters. In other words, one conclusion drawn from Ms. Pietros’s experiment is that as the oysters were excreting ammonia, that ammonia in turn was instantly taken up and incorporated into the tissues of rap-

idly growing opportunistic species of phytoplankton. So was the water in Narragansett Bay substantially clearer at the turn of the 20th Century than it was at the turn of the 21st? Probably not. These findings in no way diminish the ecological importance of oysters and other filter feeding bivalves within estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Bivalves have a profound role in controlling the boom & bust cycles of seasonal phytoplankton blooms, and the increased rates of sediment deposition to the bottom by bivalves are an important “coupler” between the water column and the bottom that stimulates the rates of decomposition and other processes in the sediments. Shellfish farmers and shellfish restoration biologists alike are making a good contribution to the management of coastal ecosystems by increasing the amount of shellfish in the water. After all, the thousand-fold decline of oyster populations on the

Eastern Seaboard of the United States and elsewhere due to overfishing and pollution during the 20th Century was a not an environmentally positive development. But, it is important to keep in mind that the whole story about the ecological role of bivalves is a bit more complicated than just the often heard simple shorthand of “bivalves are good filter feeders that can clean the water.”

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.

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Recent news from around the globe by By Suzi Dominy*

More consolidation in the aquafeed sector


wo announcements in recent weeks had the aquaculture feed sector taking notice: the first was that BioMar and Tongwei had joined forces to produce fish feed in China, and the second was Cargill’s expansion into salmon and shrimp feed. On August 18, BioMar, signed a joint venture agreement with one of the world’s largest feed companies, Tongwei, for an aquafeed company, to supply high performance feed for high value fish species. The first feed plant, with a capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes, will be located in eastern China. “Our target is to start production next year, taking advantage of the joint experiences of BioMar and Tongwei in plant design and construction. In the meantime we will start offering imported BioMar diets to the Chinese market”, explained BioMar CEO Carlos Diaz. The BioMar-Tongwei JV plans to use experience from this first project to expand with several production units across China in the coming years. In early July, Agribusiness gi54 »

ant, Cargill announced a $30 million joint venture with Naturisa to build a shrimp feed facility in Ecuador. In August, Cargill announced its entry into the salmon market with the acquisition of EWOS for 1.35 billion euros. The deal is expected to close before the end of the calendar year, subject to regulatory approvals. As part of the transaction, Cargill will acquire seven feed manufacturing facilities; three in Norway, and one each in Chile, Canada, Scotland and Vietnam, as well as two state-of-the-art R&D centers located in Norway and Chile. EWOS produces more than 1.2 million metric tons of salmon feed for the biggest salmon producers in the world. The acquisition adds to Cargill’s existing aquaculture capabilities in Mexico, Central America, China, United States, Southeast Asia, India, and Ecuador, to which EWOS is expected to contribute complementary expertise and leadership. With this investment, the company will continue to leverage its global research and development capabilities, which includes 15 R&D and Technology Application facilities around the world.

“With the need for protein expected to grow by 70 percent worldwide by 2050, farmed fish and shrimp offers one solution to meeting this demand, and Cargill intends to play a major role in this growing and important market,” said Sarena Lin, president of Cargill’s Feed & Nutrition business.

Sustainability is more than just a buzz word for aquafeed For the first time, the BioMar Group has published a global report on sustainability this year, which outlines the company’s targets and shows its commitment over the years to developing sustainable and responsible solutions throughout its activities. BioMar has been active in the development of the ASC standards for salmon and trout, and in the development of the IFFO RS standard, and actively collaborates with customers, suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders in relation to sustainable supply. “An essential part of our commitment is to minimize sustainability risks and support initiatives towards increased sustainability throughout the aquaculture value chain. We recognize that what we do in our operations, the performance of our products, and how we source our raw materials, all affect our customers’ options to improve the sustainability of their operations,” explained Carlos Diaz, CEO of the BioMar Group. “Aquaculture will become one of the most important elements in establishing sufficient food production (in the future) and we have a great responsibility to ensure it happens in a sustainable way. Aquaculture must become a pioneering model for sustainable food production,” he said. He emphasized that the increasingly complex diets used in aquaculture allow the industry to grow and contribute to an improved sustainability profile, but also throw open challenges, as new ingredients must all be evaluated in terms of sustainability. “It does not help if we replace scarce marine resources with ingredients that lead to deforestation. We need to make

choices that do not just change the problem.” BioMar has set ambitious targets for itself, such as a reduction of CO2emission from production by 20 % per ton of feed produced. However, Diaz pointed out, the largest environmental impact comes from the production of the feed ingredients, such as through the consumption of water or the utilization of scarce resources. EWOS too has published a sustainability report, in which the company revealed that a quarter of its feed now comes from fisheries by-products. “When we compare data over time, we see that we are making progress. EWOS have become better at using by-products from the food industry, such as trimmings from fish processing. In 2014 25% of EWOS Group’s marine ingredients were trimmings. In this area we are actively working together with suppliers to encourage the industry to avoid waste and improve utilization of by-products”, said director of sustainability and quality management, Karl Tore Mæland. The report acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges of sustainability in the feed business is related to the traceability of raw materials, ensuring they are safe and responsibly sourced in terms of both environmental impact and the social dimension. It uses GRI guidelines to examine a broad set of indicators, from raw material use to training. “Greenhouse gas emissions went down by 2% compared to 2013 and we are continuously looking for further improvements in this area,” he added.

Standard setting The first draft of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)’s Responsible Feed Standard has been made available for public consultation. The standard sets requirements that reflect industry best practice and develops the consensus needed to improve the environmental performance of key feed ingredients. Although the document covers the ingredients used to manu-

facture compound feed, an obvious feature of the draft standard is that the vast majority of the criteria refer to ingredients from marine sources e.g. fishmeal and fish oil. The criteria for land based ingredients, whether vegetable or animal, are very brief in comparison. This is perhaps surprising given that the marine sourced raw materials are the minority of the formulation, typically 10-15% by weight. The ASC Responsible Feed Standard will go live in the first half of 2016 and will be available globally for anyone who wants to use it. Meanwhile, GLOBALG.A.P. launched the Responsible Operations Standard (ROS) Add-on for Compound Feed Manufacturing V1, which aims to improve the sustainability practices of feed mills producing sustainable compound feed for aquaculture and livestock. The module has strong commitment and support from the Norwegian aquaculture compound feed industry, the standard setting body said. The Standard covers: the reduction of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the reduction of water use; strategies to avoid waste and effluents; responsible sourcing of agricultural and marine feed materials; product declarations on feed efficiency, environmental impacts, and GMO content; mass balances for specific claims on sustainability attributes of feed materials and the promotion of social engagement with the local community.

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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Offshore Aquaculture

A Mess of Mesh, or a Web of Wonder? New marvels protect against ‘net losses’ in open ocean aquaculture

One of the fundamental principles of open ocean aquaculture is to By Neil Anthony Sims*


t really doesn’t work very well if you get them mixed up. And nothing takes the luster off a sunny morning faster, for a fish farmer, than to show up at your farm site, peer over the side of the boat, and see a school of fish outside the net pen that look disturbingly similar to the fish that were inside the net pen the last time you checked. Breaches in the mesh netting can be truly catastrophic. Escapee fish bear an uncanny resemblance to $20 bills swimming away, straight out of your bottom line and into your “Losses” column.

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keep the sharks on one side of the netting, and the fish on the other.

How expensive can escapees be? Norwegian salmon producer SalMar is waiting for the permits to launch an offshore net pen that could reportedly yield up to 8,000 tonnes of salmon per cohort. Assume farm-gate value for Atlantic salmon of, say, $4.50 per kg, and that totes up to a harvest value of around USD $36 million per cage. That’s an awful lot of fish and money that is entirely dependent on the integrity of one layer of netting. Sadly, we don’t have to rely on hypothetical extrapolations to illustrate the risk posed by containment net failures:

the IntraFish AquaNor blog from August noted “one company reporting losses of $10 million from predators”. (Not surprisingly, the company wished to remain anonymous). Escaped fish are also responsible for a large measure of the uncertainty that makes some investors squeamish about our industry. And escapees result in bad press, and bad public relations for the company, and the industry as a whole. What’s even worse than escaped fish? An entangled marine mammal. While I cannot speak from experience,

I can imagine the luster being stripped off our poor fish farmer’s morning all the faster if they were to find Flipper, or Shamu - or some other doey-eyed, bewhiskered creature - wrapped up all cold and stiff in their pen netting. Open ocean aquaculture, with its greater exposure to ocean energy, and to charismatic megafauna – it is, after all open ocean - has been heavily scrutinized by skeptics as being at greater risk of farmed fish escapes or marine mammal entanglements. Some of the early experiences with offshore fish farm sites were indeed very (for want of a better euphemism) ‘educational’ in this regard. But the rapidity with which new technologies have been developed and then adopted is highly illustrative of the innovation-driven character of the offshore aquaculture industry and the individuals that populate it. This is worth celebrating, perhaps. So while this month’s column might end up sounding like a shameless plug for the manufacturing companies of some of the recently-developed netting materials, it is actually intended to be a collective, congratulatory pat on the back. When you all out there are good, you can be pretty darn good! The challenges with standard nylon netting in open ocean aquaculture are readily apparent to anyone with experience with the material and the environment. Large sharks, seals and sea lions, dolphins… they are all a natural

part of the offshore waters in which we work. And they all want to eat your fish! Standard nylon is clearly not capable of withstanding the sideways sawing action of triangular teeth. Nor does it greatly resist the determined charges of a 600 lb (270 kg) pinniped predator. Semi-rigid plastic mesh materials became more widely used in the salmon industry in the late 1990s. While some of these materials led to impressive reductions in sea lion predation (their canine teeth were unable to tear the material), these fiber-reinforced plastics were readily sliced with a knife, and were patently not going to be able to keep Jaws at bay. With their high ratio of net surface area to open area, they were also subject to greater net deflection on farm sites with high currents. None of this boded well for open ocean net pens. DSM was the first company to recognize and respond to the greater needs of open ocean aquaculture. DSM’s Dyneema® netting – a Kevlar®like fiber that was developed specifically for marine use – was incredibly strong, and highly resistant to cutting, and - when correctly hung on a rigidframed net, such that the material was trampoline-taut –was also largely shark-proof. “Largely” however, is not “completely”, and even Dyneema succumbed on occasion, when netting was allowed to ‘bag’. In a few instanc» 57

Offshore Aquaculture

es, (and remember, you only need a few) sharks on the former Kona Blue Water Farms site showed that if they could get sufficient grip on a hank of Dyneema netting, they could saw and gnaw their way through. But let’s give credit where it’s due: DSM demonstrated exemplary responsiveness to customer concerns, when these issues were brought to their attention. I very clearly remember my conversation with Ken Robertson, head of DSM’s Sales and Engineering for the Americas, at one of the Aquaculture America trade shows. Ken showed equal measures of empathetic pain and palpable perplexedness to learn of these failings of his mesh. “We’ll get right on it!” he had said, reassuringly, though I felt anything but reassured. The following year, Ken button-holed me out of the trade show aisle to again assure me that the full weight of DSM’s engineers and material science teams was pursuing a possible solution. I believe that I was less than fulsome in my appreciation of his efforts. (Sorry, Ken… sometimes it’s hard to differentiate earnestness from eager sales talk). But the following year, there stood Ken, beaming in exaltation in front of 58 »

a wide-screen video monitor showing some of the most arresting footage I’ve ever seen in aquaculture. It was marketing mastery: shots from an underwater camera of bikini-clad college girls SCUBA-diving through the clear blue Caribbean, interspersed with shots of 6ft-plus bull-sharks tearing frustratedly at experimental cages containing fish carcasses as bait. It was the only time ever – or, at least, the only time that I recall - that such a spectacle of sex and violence graced the Aquaculture America trade show. (Well… apart from the academic sessions on spawning induction in sturgeon). The reason for Ken’s exaltation was Dyneema’s new Pred-X® material, which consisted of the Dyneema interwoven with a stainless steel wire that served to blunt any shark bite. The bull sharks ended up trashing the cage, breaking the frame and the cradle on which it was perched, but the cobia carcass bait inside and the Pred-X netting both remained intact. I also beamed with Ken, not just because here was a graphic demonstration of a viable solution to a (previously) unsolvable problem, but more so for what it represented: innovation and adaptation and resourcefulness

and customer-responsiveness. That powerful convergence of assets and imagination – I could see – was going to be able to be applied to other challenges that we face in our fledgling field. It was again at a (subsequent) Aquaculture America trade show where I encountered the Wierson family; earnest, honest Oregon folk, with a background in printing and publication, but connections through their church with an American missionary in Japan, who had been asked to test-market a material that Japanese fish farmers had been using for some time, with considerable success. That material – Kikkonet – was comprised of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which had originally been patented by Du Pont, but then sold to a Japanese company who built a business around corrosionresistant, high-strength retaining-wall netting, until some fish farmer saw its value. If it can keep boulders off the highway, their thinking went, then it should be able to keep fish in the pen. At that stage, there was only one example of Kikkonet being used as a net pen outside of Japan. I tracked down the one Aussie barramundi farmer whose farm was sited amongst

the mangroves of Far North Queensland (read “crocodile country”). He was reluctant to say too much, but over time offered up the witness: “It saved my farm, mate. It stopped the crocs cold.” I obtained a hank of Kikkonet as quickly as I could, and offered it up along with a pair of scissors to our company’s Chairman at the next Board meeting. He was determined to cut through the material, to prove me wrong, and ended up trying so hard that he broke the scissors! Part of the beauty of Kikkonet (and other rigid net materials) is that if a filament does break, then the rigid net still holds its shape. It doesn’t sag open into an inviting hole that lures curious fish into the outside world. Another beauty of Kikkonet is that it is a monofilament, and so is relatively easy to clean. The Wiersons have since gone back to the printing business in Oregon, but we should all be grateful

for the bridging role that they played. Kikkonet is now sold by AKVA under their brand-name “Econet™.” What is even better than relatively easy-to-clean predator-resistant net? A predator-proof net that you never have to clean. At the same time that DSM Dyneema and Kikkonet were moving to the fore, the International Copper Association was fomenting their own copper-alloy-chain-link-mesh revolution, aided by member companies in Japan (Mitsubishi), Chile (EcoSea), Germany (Wieland) and the USA (Luvata Appleton), among others. This netting underwent rigorous testing around the globe at numerous farm sites, with some very impressive results. These materials are robust metal, so predators break teeth before they break-and-enter. And being copperbased, there is virtually no biofouling. No net-cleaning! I’m not sure what fish farmers are supposed to do, then, with all their free time… take up golf? (No, pleeease… not golf!).

We at Kampachi Farms have tested copper alloy materials on an Aquapod™ net pen throughout our experimental Velella Project, and were able to complete an entire grow-out cycle of Seriola rivoliana without either cleaning the net or resorting to therapeutic bath treatments to control the skin fluke ecto-parasites that are the bane of kampachi and hamachi grow-out. Of course, copper is expensive (we sometimes joke that it might be preferable to have gold-plated netting), and it is heavy (which makes the cage design of critical importance). Bekaert from Belgium is now working on a solution to these challenges of weight and cost, with a lighter, duplex stainless steel core mesh, with an electroplated copper-nickel alloy coating. In a strange twist, this new copper metal netting now faces challenges with public perception and eco-certification. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s salmon standards disallow copper-coated nets, but ASC’s origi-

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Offshore Aquaculture

nal intention was to discourage use of copper-based antifouling paint on netting, because of the demonstrated, persistent toxicity problems of paint flecks and flakes that dropped to the bottom beneath the net (especially when net cleaning in situ). The International Copper Association has reams of data showing unequivocally that copper metal dissolves slowly in seawater, rather than fragments, and is biologically benign, being dissipated into the water column as copper ions. But the rule – and the misperceptions – will persist until some enterprising fish farmer challenges them both. I trust that it won’t be long.

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And nylon nets may themselves be due for a makeover, or a comeback: Intrafish reports that Norwegian netting company Morenot has been testing a plastic coated netting material at 170 Marine Harvest sites in Scotland, with “very good results”. However, no matter how robust your cage system, or how well-engineered your mooring array, you cannot provide rock-solid assurance to investors, local communities, or environmentalists that there will be no escapes. Even the most robust net pens should be insured against stock losses. While an insurance payout may cover a goodly proportion of the production

costs put into the fish, that doesn’t reflect what would have been the fullyrealized value of the fish if you had been able to get them to harvest size, and get them to market. And it doesn’t protect your farm or our industry from public pillory. So on many levels we should always, in all ways, fully and fulsomely appreciate the collective creativity of our industry’s engineering partners, and these divergent options for new netting materials that keep moving us forward on our trajectory, pursuing nothing less than perfection. Onwards! To the horizon, and beyond!

Note: Links to net materials men- ucts/agriculture/fishing-and-animalhusbandry/aqua-farming-cage-fishtioned in the article: farming-salmon-cages EcoNet: MoreNot: ture/products/nets-and-netting Pred-X: EcoSea: EcoSea.pdf Bekaert:

Neil Anthony Sims is co-Founder and CEO of Kampachi Farms, LLC, based in Kona, Hawaii, and in La Paz, Mexico. He’s also the founding President of the Ocean Stewards Institute, and sits on the Steering Committee for the Seriola-Cobia Aquaculture Dialogue and the Technical Advisory Group for the WWF-sponsored Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

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TILAPIA & Genetics and Breeding


Options for Selection Programs By Greg Lutz*

In order to be effective in the process of genetic “improvement,” we need some heritable (additive) genetic variation to work with, the luxury of being able to cull most of the population on hand when choosing breeding stock to produce the next generation, and some way to accurately determine (or at least estimate) the genetic “worth” of individual animals.


ne of the simplest means of improving the efficiency of selection is to improve the degree to which individual genetic values are estimated. Remember that in most cases only a small portion of the phenotypic (observable) variation we measure is attributable to directly inherited genetic influences. This portion is referred to as the heritability of the trait, and the relative magnitude of this portion of variation is an important factor in the design of an improvement program. When the genetic potential of individual fish is obscured by environmental conditions and/or competition, selection can be difficult to pursue. One method of increasing accuracy when assessing genetic values 62 »

involves compiling repeated measurements of an individual’s performance in certain traits – number of eggs per gram of body weight (evaluated over a number of spawns) would be one example in tilapia. Another approach is to select individuals based on the performance of their offspring. This practice increases the generation interval for selection, but it can be useful when selecting for traits with low heritability (relatively high levels of environmental influence or comparatively small amounts of additive genetic variation to work with). It’s also useful for traits that are expressed in only one sex (again fecundity characteristics), or traits that describe slaughter-related characters such as fillet yield. A third approach to selection is to estimate an individual’s genetic

worth, wholly or partially, based on the overall performance of its immediate family. As pointed out above, when heritability is low, a large portion of the superiority or inferiority of any individual we observe will tend to result from influences that are not heritable – and under these circumstances, the mean of an entire family may tell us more about a fish’s genetic merit than its individual phenotype. In reality, this is the only set of circumstances in which family selection is actually more efficient than mass selection, and worth the extra labor, infrastructure and operational costs required to conduct it. The progress per generation, however, can be much less than what might be attainable using offspring performance as a basis for selection. The positive trade-off with this

type of approach lies in the reduction of the generation interval when using information from overall family performance. Family selection relies solely on family averages. Any given individual within the family, be it the largest or the smallest, is assigned the same “value” to reflect the ranking of the family against other families. In this practice, all (or a random sample of) the members of those families with the highest averages are retained for breeding purposes. For traits with low heritabilities, family selection is generally more efficient than mass selection. But questions come into play in terms of costs and the accumulation of inbreeding. In species like tilapia, significant differences will be apparent between male and female fish, so families should be ranked by sex. The family

score can then be the average of the male and female averages, or families can be ranked separately for each sex and females from the families with the highest female rankings are mated with males from the families with the highest male rankings. The first approach is probably more appropriate for a tilapia breeding program. Family selection requires discreet families, produced by specific, identifiable males and females. Unfortunately, tilapia are usually spawned in large groups and are notoriously uncooperative when single pair matings are attempted. Since male tilapia are often inclined to harass unreceptive females to the point of death when housed as single pairs, one simple trick to improve the chances of success for production of multiple families is to surgically remove the upper lip (maxillary and pre-maxillary bones) of the males. An illustrated protocol can be found here: http:// Once you manage to create the families, another inherent problem with family selection is that it requires an accurate way to keep track of them, preferably while raising them all together in the same environment. While there are certainly ways to do this, an inability to identify fish to particular families in many commercial settings often requires growers to rely on mass selection even for traits with low heritabilities. When all fish of interest cannot be raised together in a common environment, using individuals’ deviations from group averages has sometimes been proposed as a means to avoid bias from separate environments and trends over time, but thought must be given as to which, if not all, of its contemporaries an individual will be evaluated against (its full-siblings, its half-siblings, all contemporaneous individuals within the same pond, or cage, or recirculating system, etc.) Common environments, or competition and social hierarchies within

common environments (something tilapia are notorious for), become important considerations in these evaluations. When all these problems are taken together, in some circumstances the optimal selection approach for tilapia involves ranking individuals within each family. This approach, known as “within-family selection,” may be of particular value if there is no alternative but to segregate families in order to track their performance. Within-family selection is most efficient when differences between families are largely due to differences in their rearing environments. Even under the most similar conditions attainable, subtle differences in culture environments can still exist among family groups, but with this approach they do not directly bias the evaluation criterion. An added benefit of within-family selection is the ease involved in selecting members of every family to replace the preceding generation. This is a worthwhile practice, because when every family contributes equally to the breeding population the effective population size theoretically becomes two times the actual population size. In this way, the accumulation of inbreeding depression is slowed considerably, and in spite of the claims of some genetic consultants inbreeding can accumulate more rapidly in a family

In species like tilapia, significant differences will be apparent between male and female fish, so families should be ranked by sex.

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TILAPIA & Genetics and Breeding

selection program than under mass selection conditions. In either case, if some sort of physical marker is used to identify fish by family, be it branding, clipping, or PIT tagging, another question arises… how many individuals to mark per family? Depending on the size of the breeding stock being used, a family of tilapia fingerlings can easily exceed 700 or even 1000 individuals. No one wants to tag that many fingerlings, especially if some 100 – 200 families are being compared (which is often considered a necessary scale of production in family selection in order to minimize the accumulation of inbreeding). In 2014 Chao Song and his colleagues demonstrated that when channel catfish fingerlings exhibited family differences of 0.2, approximately 55 animals per family were required for reliable detection of these differences. However, when the true differences dropped to 0.15, 90 individuals per family would be required to detect them. Molecular markers can provide an alternative with some significant advantages – every individual is born with the required information to trace it back to its family of origin, if you have the right set of markers available. Under some conditions, such as when broodstock are spawned en masse in groups, family selection and within-family selection are generally not possible without molecular marking techniques. Even when molecular markers are available, they are usually not cheap so a trade-off must be considered between the number of fish being genotyped and the amount of useful information to be gained. Occasionally, an individual’s performance can be combined with that of its family to provide a composite score. This approach is referred to as ‘combined selection.’ Modeling and quantitative theory indicate that gains from combined selection will consistently surpass those from 64 »

mass selection or family selection. However, as in other situations the requirement to identify and track each individual may not justify the additional efficiency of this type of selection, especially in an aquaculture setting. A 1988 article by HorstgenSchwark and Langholz on the prospects of selecting for late maturity in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) illustrates a number of the concepts involved in the various approaches to selection discussed above. The goal of their study was to evaluate a breeding program designed to delay maturation. The initial breeding population consisted of 35 full-sib families of fish (a full sib family has both the mother and father in common). Half of the fish from each family were slaughtered at 136 days of age and gonadosomatic index (GSI) and a visual assessment of

gonadal development (VAGD- my term, not the authorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;) were recorded for each slaughtered fish. These values were then used as selection criteria for males and females, respectively. Families were ranked separately for each sex, based on average GSI for males and average VAGD for females. Selection was directional in each trait: for the lowest values, to reflect late maturation of both males and females. In this sense, family selection was being practiced, but with a twist: based on separate rankings for male maturity within families and female maturity within families. At this point, another twist was added: families were ranked by mean weight, and only families equal to or above the overall average were considered for selection of late-maturing animals. This was considered necessary to avoid the selection of families with high proportions of underdeveloped offspring. So, families were selected based not only on late maturation of males and/or females, but also on growth. Females from those families with the lowest average VAGD values were spawned with males from families with lowest average GSI values, but full-sib matings were not allowed to avoid any complications from inbreeding depression. Additionally, only the heaviest fish within each selected family were used to produce the next generation, in order to reduce the time interval between generations. As a result, only about 25% of the late-maturing males and 50% of the late-maturing females were spawned. This equated to within-family selection for growth, combined with the family selection for maturation and growth that had already been carried out. Two males and four females were selected randomly from each family to serve as control lines for each generation. When compared to unselected controls, selected lines exhibited a reduction of 1.25 standard Âť 65

TILAPIA & Genetics and Breeding

deviations for both GSI in males and VAGD in females after two generations of selection. These responses were statistically significant. Bolivar reported in 1999 on within-family selection trials for growth in Nile tilapia. The selection criteria in this study was fairly easy to track: growth during 16 weeks posthatching. The rationale for this work was the development of a selection strategy that could be applied with relatively limited facilities. Over 12 generations, within-family selection for growth was applied to tilapia grown in tanks. A continuous linear response for weight at 16 weeks was apparent over the entire course of the study. Calculations based on observed selection response indicated a heritability for weight at 16 weeks of 0.38 in the base population, with 66 »

a potential genetic gain of roughly 12% per generation. While the selection program was carried out in tanks, selected lines were evaluated for their performance in hapas and ponds to determine if gains would be of value under commercial conditions. Substantial selection response was apparent in both environments, suggesting that relatively modest facilities can be utilized to produce significant genetic improvements in extensive tilapia production settings, without the need for complex or expensive techniques like molecular markers.

An Illustration. In many cases, complex family-selection based improvement programs have been promoted within the tilapia industry as a means to generate gains in growth while minimizing the

In many cases, complex familyselection based improvement programs have been promoted within the tilapia industry as a means to generate gains in growth while minimizing the accumulation of inbreeding (remember, inbreeding only accumulates… kind of like enemies). accumulation of inbreeding (remember, inbreeding only accumulates… kind of like enemies). However, this is a costly trade-off because family selection is much less efficient due to the fact that only 50% of the additive genetic variance in a population is expressed ‘between’ families

(that is the unfortunate reality, based on statistical equations). Consider a large operation that requires 7 million larvae per month (not uncommon among some large tilapia operations). If we are generous, in terms of a fecundity estimate, and assume each female will produce roughly 1,000 larvae per month, a minimum of 7000 females will be required to produce this amount, and probably some 2,000 to 3,000 males. This equates to an effective population number (Ne) of some 8,500 animals. Now, further assume that some portion of the breeding stock on hand is resting during any given month, so let’s say the farm needs some 15,000 animals on hand to meet the yearround demand for fry. If we opt for mass selection, simply choosing superior animals with no regard to their pedigrees, out

of an annual production of some 84 million fry, some 15,000 will be destined to replace their parents as breeding stock. This is a mere 0.018%. Sounds bad in terms of inbreeding. Really bad. Now, if we used the fry from any given month for our selection activities and if 100% of the superiority observed in those 15,000 fish was directly heritable, they might be represented by as few as 15 females and perhaps 5 males – an Ne of around 15. If a particular group of breeding individuals WERE so superior as to contribute such a disproportional amount of offspring in the selected portion of the next generation, then by all means this superiority should be retained within the population in spite of the potential for increased inbreeding levels. Here’s an inside tip: in simple terms this has histori-

cally been referred to as SELECTION. But of course, such high heritabilities are never the case, since most of the variation in performance we observe is attributable to non-heritable factors, as has already been established. Let’s assume a fairly reasonable heritability (say, one that might justify family selection) of 0.20. Now to get those gains we are talking about a projected effective population number of 375 (based on 375 females and 125 males). Inbreeding would be expected to accumulate at roughly 1/2Ne per generation, or 0.0013. If the same operation were using family selection, with, say, 180 families per generation, the effective population size would be 180 females and 180 males, with an Ne of 360. Inbreeding would be expected to accumulate at 0.0014. Actually, not even a superior number, in spite of the costs, labor and infrastructure involved. Now, if there were a way to guarantee that every family contributed equally to the next generation of breeding stock, this accumulation is effectively cut in half, and some benefit is gained. However, the accumulation of inbreeding in all of these hypothetical cases is negligible, and easily offset by selection gains, largely as a result of the high fecundity of tilapia.

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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Post Harvest

The importance of

traceability Your company has sent out the first big order of shrimp to a new customer. Everything was perfectly controlled relative to the size of the headed and deveined shrimp falling within an agreed count per pound, the shrimp were chilled to 0.5 Ë&#x161;C within an hour of harvest; packed with plenty of ice and gel packs and at the airport in time for the air freight departure. Four days later, the customer is very angry and rejects the By Lucina E. Lampila*


he airplane may have had a mechanical failure that delayed departure and although there was cold storage at the site, the airline assumed that the issue would be resolved quickly and the shrimp would be fine. In reality, it took 24 hours for the engine part to arrive and the temperature on the airplane exceeded 38Ë&#x161;C for 20 hours. In that time, melanosis or black spot would have taken place along with bacterial and biochemical decomposition. Assuming the flight did take off on time, what if the customs broker failed to meet the flight to accept the shrimp and they were off loaded and left at ambient temperature for two days? Assuming the flight was on time and the broker immediately took charge and kept the shrimp chilled, what else might have happened? The wholesaler took ownership of the shrimp but left them on his loading dock in the hot sun for six hours. All three scenarios are entirely possible 68 Âť

shipment. What could have gone wrong?

and have, unfortunately, occurred at one time or another. Usually from a distance, it is very difficult to identify the weak link in the cold chain and those to blame will seldom admit their error. Is there a way to have better control over your product? Traceability provides valuable tracking information to the source of the delivery as well as back to the source of its production. Traceability systems are used to protect food safety and quality. These systems can be used to track date of production, temperature in storage and distribution, and location and time in the distribution channel. Tracking product in transit and distribution can have many advantages to include protecting the company and/or product reputation; to better differentiate one supplier from another; guarantee origin; improve supply management and be a very effective system in the event of a product recall. Traceability systems may consist of one of three types. Each step in the system receives information from the previous step. This is the least expensive system. The second system will receive all information from previous steps. The third system uses an organization that collects information from each step and links all the information into a cohesive file. This is the most expensive system. Tracking mechanisms can include a bar code such as the universal price code (UPC) label. Bar codes are

common and the reading technology is universal. Limitations to the bar code include the difficulty to read if covered in condensate which is common to seafood products and the fact that the label may fall off a package if not directly printed onto the packaging. Quick response (QR) codes are the two dimensional black and white box style codes may be read to give information ranging from origin, to special offers or lead back to a website for more detailed data. The ubiquitous smart phone has led to an explosion of QR codes on products, packaging and advertising. The most sophisticated type of transmitter is the radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. These tags may send information regarding location and time but may also be designed to provide time temperature data. Such tags may be individual units added to a shipment or even be built into the packaging with the added need to develop the logistics to have packaging returned for reuse. Time-temperature RFID tags would have been the perfect means to track the shrimp outlined in the above scenario to prevent an inferior product delivered to an angry customer and to know the weak link or links in the cold chain. RFID tags may use either magnetic induction or microwave frequencies to send signals. Systems consist of three parts: an identifier which is typically tamperproof; an activating or reading device and software

to electronically read and transfer the data. Tags may be either single or multi-use. Tags may be active and send a signal up to 30 meters or be passive or read by an electromagnetic reader. The electromagnetic reader is thought to work well under temperature extremes, such as, freezers. The high moisture content of seafood may interfere with transmission signals particularly in the microwave range. Therefore, systems should be tested in-house and be product specific before making a commitment to a particular system. Tracing seafood origin is far easier in aquaculture systems than in the wild caught fishery. Traceability within the aquaculture industry is critical for making claims of sustainability which is far more important within the retail and hospitality sectors. Traceability may also be used to protect against allegations of inferior quality and/or origin of fish. For more information please see: The Global Food Traceability Center, aspx; Food Safety News, http://www. the-changing-world-of-food-chaintraceability/#.VfLsPdJViko, and for global initiatives, The International Union of Food Science and Technology, iufostftp/IUF.SIB.Food%20Traceability.pdf

*Lucina E. Lampila, Ph.D., R.D., C.F.S. is a food scientist who has worked with the U.S. Sea Grant College Program at academic institutions on the West Coast, in the Mid-Atlantic and the Gulf Coast. She worked for ingredient manufacturers in the private sector and had global responsibilities for value-added seafood processing.

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Improving the sustainability

of salmon and trout farming The salmonid sector is frequently accused of not being especially environmentally friendly, exploiting limited food resources such as fish meal and oil, discharging large quantities of feed losses and organic wastes, spreading diseases and parasites, not preventing fish escapes, etc. etc. etc. No smoke without fire, but in general the situation has strongly improved over the last decades due to imposed strict governmental regulations and, not least, better

By Asbjørn Bergheim*


f the global production of fish meal some 65% is utilized for aquaculture, while even 83% of the global fish oil goes to aquaculture ( Production of salmon and trout is a significant consumer of fish protein and oil, but the consumption has not increased concurrently with the growth of the salmonid industry. Optimized composition and digestibility of the feed, and improved feeding systems have contributed to a 15 – 20% reduced feed conversion ratio (FCR, kg feed/kg fish produced). Importantly, reduced FCR also means lower waste load per unit biomass produced. Plant proteins and vegetable oils are increasingly replacing marine fish in feed for salmonids in order to improve the sustainability of the industry (Table 1). Land-based farms for production of cold-water fish species are generally consuming large volumes of water. However, introduction of efficient technology for injection of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide has significantly reduced the required flow over the last decade (Fig. 1). 70 »

management. and control systems, and more environment-conscious farmers. Present day farm systems based on flow-through or partial recirculation of water typically use 0.2 – 0.5 liters per minute per kg of fish, only 10 – 20% of the volume needed before 1990. Anyway, an average-sized farm producing 1 – 2 million salmon or trout smolt per year based on oxygen injection/carbon dioxide stripping is consuming a water flow at peak biomass which is corresponding to the municipal water supply of 50,000 – 70,000 persons. During dry periods with high water temperatures, many farms are facing water supply problems. Over the years, development of efficient recirculating systems (RAS) for salmonid production in countries such as the USA and Denmark has minimized the required water flow. RAS farms combine several advantageous properties compared to flowthrough systems – among these are

higher growth rate of the stock and better sustainability in terms of lower waste load and water demand. According to up-dated figures, half of the production in Chile, and some 30% in Norway, now takes place in fully recirculating farms and such intensively run facilities will probably dominate the production in the future. In North America, RAS is the pre-dominating technology in landbased farms producing cold-water fish. Recently, introduction of a prolonged production stage in closed or semi-closed smolt farms from 100 g to 500 – 1,000 g (individual size) before stocking in open cages has become a hot topic. The traditional way, with direct stocking of newly smoltified salmon of 80 – 150 g in seawater is a well introduced procedure, but the entire production cycle from hatching to harvest may be reduced

Table 1 Replacement of marine oil and protein in salmon feed by other sources. Year

Protein (%)

Oil (%)

1990 2015

90 30 (70% poultry and plant protein)

100 45 (55% poultry & plant oil)

Figure 1

L / kg fish / min

Freshwater consumption in smolt producing farms due to improved technology since 1990. RAS: recirculating aquaculture systems. 2.8 Aereated water 2.6 2.4 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.8 O2 added 0.6 O2 added 0.4 CO2 removed 0.2 RAS 0.0 Before 1990 1990-2000 2000-2010 2010-

by more than half a year if this third, intermediate cycle producing postsmolt is incorporated. The increased growth during this cycle is due to higher and more stable temperatures, especially during winter (0-year old smolt), better water quality control (e.g. DO concentration kept above 80% of saturation), strongly reduced parasite and disease risk, etc. in closed systems. Not least, such systems contribute to improved sustainability of the entire production cycle characterized by waste solids removal and less potentially harmful effects on local stocks of wild salmon and sea trout (reduced risk of fish escapes and spreading of sea lice). A sketch of a newly developed closed cage is presented here. During several tests,

this system based on water intake at 25 m depth has demonstrated no sea lice infestation, unlike the surrounding open cages where the salmon stock was frequently affected by a high number of lice (Arve Nilsen, personal communication). More than 95% of the total biomass produced along the coast takes place in seawater cages. All attempts to prevent episodic fish escapes (e.g. use of external coarse-meshed nets), frequent sea lice and disease control, imposed fallowing of cage sites, etc. are of vital importance to the fish stock in the cages and to the environment. As previously mentioned, public regulations and frequent control of farming sites are decisive in order to minimize the harmful ef-

Figure 2. Sketch of a floating cage for on-growing of salmon in sea water (Arve Nilsen, personal communication)

fects of the industry. Today’s cage farms are large systems (3000 – 5000 MT produced/year) and thorough inspection of the fish’s health is not only important to the welfare of the stock in the cages, but also to prevent spreading of diseases and parasites to wild stocks. Another useful approach is the introduction of movable cameras in the cages that allow running control of the fish and, importantly, of the net wall where simple damage might result in massive escapes over a few days. The land-based Danish farm, Langsand Laks, claims to be the salmon farm that produces in the most environmentally friendly way ( At this facility, Atlantic salmon is grown from hatching to harvest size in an onshore, indoor RAS. Entirely indoor production excludes (in theory) the mutual exchange of pathogens and parasites, and there is no risk of fish escapes. The outside climate has no impact on water temperature and lighting (insulated buildings and controlled photoperiod). Langsand Laks has also diminished the energy consumption by geothermal cooling and heating, and not least, by utilization of wind power. Such systems are, however, more vulnerable to technical failures, such as loss of recirculation. And when compared to on-growing in open cages, full-cycle onshore farming is more labour-intensive.

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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The Fishmonger

With CoOL – be careful what you wish for

Every country has a sense of pride and, if given the opportunity, people will say that their country produces better product than any another. Given a question in a survey of ‘what country produces the best product’ people will nominate their own – surely that is human nature.


s a Fishmonger you know that you need to have a solid background to your discussions with consumers. Regrettably just saying it is local or domestic product when the price is higher is not a discussion you need to be involved in with the majority of your customers. There needs to be more to the story. Surveys taken about consumer desires before they have purchased are soft, nice and fluffy but they are not worth anything. What consumers’ desires are as against what they actually purchased are irrelevant. What do consumers actually purchase? Evidence can be obtained from till rolls or surveys with consumers with their trolleys of paidfor goods. What do those surveys always show? They show that shoppers buy on price, then taste, then brand. Origin is nice to know but it does not appear in the surveys that are about the commitment when money changes hands. Around the globe there are debates going on about CoOL (Country of Origin Labeling) and regrettably people come at the discussion with their hearts instead of their 72 »

heads. Primary producers, especially the smaller operators in developed countries, have often seen CoOL as some sort of panacea to their wavering bottom lines. I have heard the debates in EU, USA and Australia. Seafood is, without any doubt whatsoever, the largest traded food product globally. So seafood people should really understand how world trade works and what the rules are. If anyone has any doubt please check out World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Rules of Origin ( docs_e/legal_e/22-roo_e.htm). If you are in a country that has a high dependence on imports for your seafood consumption (that, by the way, means most of the socalled developed world), a move to CoOL for your industry means massive change, extra work, extra costs, etc. for no guaranteed benefit. The CoOL requirements have a convoluted history in the USA. The 2002 Farm Bill, and later the 2008 Farm Bill, amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require retailers, such as full-line grocery stores, supermarkets, and club warehouse stores, to inform consumers

of the country of origin of various meats, fish, shellfish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Suppliers of covered commodities to retail establishments must provide the retailers with country of origin information. This information may appear on the product, on a master shipping container, or in a document that accompanies the product through retail sale. Importantly food service establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias, are specifically exempt from CoOL requirements. The laws in Australia are very similar but a massive push of recent date saw the seafood industry try to ensure the laws flowed onto food service establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias. The United States is surprisingly often on the wrong end of the WTO rules when it comes to CoOL. Earlier this year the WTO was forced to castigate the United States’ mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), highlighting that it violates international law. That ruling paved the way for Canada and Mexico to impose billions of dollars of retaliatory tariffs on US goods. It is interesting to review why this judgement was made so that the

seafood industry understands the issue. In 2009 the United States introduced mandatory Country of Origin Labelling. This was done in response to ‘small scale’ beef producers who believed consumers would support local product and pay more. You can see even here that, with that statement, the producers seemingly were not so much interested in looking after the consumers but themselves. It seemed to only be a minority in the meat industry that was pushing the politics on this because it was reported that the US Pork president from Iowa told the House Agriculture Subcommittee that losing Mexican and Canadian markets valued at $2.4 billion could cost 16,000 American jobs. Additionally Professor Gary Brester from Montana State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics, who has written several papers analyzing the cost-benefit of country of origin labeling said consumers were not that interested in where their food was produced. “Since 2009 we now have data and the question is, ‘Do consumers pay more for US labelled beef products and how much more?’,” said Dr Brester. “The answer is they don’t pay any more. It

sounds good, but the reality is the costs are higher than what consumers are willing to pay.” The US Department of Agriculture following further investigations found the system had failed, and estimated CoOL had cost the beef industry $1.3 billion, the pork industry $300 million and chicken producers $183 million in label changing, meat segregation and auditing costs. The report, commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture, concluded that the overall cost was $2.6 billion for all covered commodities; beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, fish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, ginseng, peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts. Additionally it also found consumers were forced to pay more. So from this wonderful example it highlights that you have to be very careful what you wish for.

So if CoOL is not going to assist, what can be done? A move by your domestic industry to produce to a quality standard and/or a home country promotion is likely a far better option as it would lift the domestic country in the eyes of the consumer and would, in turn, be a positive promotion activity. Unlike with CoOL there is evidence from the Label Rouge (Red Label), a sign of quality assurance in France, which bears this out. Products eligible for the Label Rouge are food items (including seafood) and non-food and unprocessed agricultural products such as flowers. According to the French Ministry of Agriculture: “The Red Label certifies that a product has a specific set of characteristics establishing a superior level to that of a similar current product.” Label Rouge is the only official quality mark which imposes specific standards for taste and is granted to products with flavour and quality superior to that of standard products in the same sector. Products are assessed against a detailed » 73

The Fishmonger

specification for sensory criteria by consumer panels and product experts in trials set up by independent and accredited laboratories. To ensure consistency Label Rouge is not awarded on a permanent basis and maintenance of a significant quality difference must be continually assessed through external audits and analyses. As well as demonstrating full compliance with health and safety regulations, quality and production criteria relate to harvest, catch method, husbandry, production, processing and marketing. Every stage of production and distribution is implicated and controlled traceability is required throughout. In seafood there is much evidence that producers who have gone down this path74 Âť

way are reaping the rewards, and striving for improvement in consistency in quality for our products should also be our aim. Governments could engage with the industry, as they have in France, to enable this to happen and this would be a win for all, including the consumer. You can see Label Rouge information at or https:// (it is in French). Happy Fishmongering!

The Fishmonger

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OCTOBER 2015 Conxemar Oct. 5- Oct. 7 IFEVI. Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain. T: +34 986 433 351 F: +34 986 221 174 E:

BioMarine Oct. 12- Oct. 14 Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. E: Myanmar Aqua Fisheries Oct. 14- Oct. 16 Myanmar Convention Centre (MCC) Yangon, Myanmar. T: +84 3842 7755 F: +84 3849 1188 E: Aqua2015 Oct. 19- Oct. 22 Hotel Hilton Colon. Guayaquil, Ecuador. E:

Aquaculture Europe 2015 Oct. 20- Oct. 23 De Doelen Congress Centre. Rotterdam. Netherlands. E: Busan Int’l Seafood & Fisheries EXPO 2015 Oct. 29- Oct. 31 BEXCO Exhibition Center. Busan, Korea. T: +82-51-740-7518 F: +82-51-740-7360 E: E: NOVEMBER 2015 10th International Aquaculture Forum FIACUI 2015 Nov. 4- Nov. 6 Guadalajara, Jalisco México. Tel: +52 (33) 3632-2355 E: Expo Pesca & AcuiPeru Nov. 5- Nov. 7 Centro de Exposiciones Jockey. Lima, Peru.

T: +511 201-7820 E: 6th International Congress of Aquaponics and 2nd Aquaculture World Symposium in Arid Areas. Nov. 9- Nov. 13 La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. T: +52 (33) 12-01-07-73 E: XIII International Symposium on Aquaculture Nutrition Nov. 11- Nov. 13 Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. E: Fenacam & Lacqua 15’ - Latin American & Caribbean Aquaculture 2015 Nov. 16- Nov. 19 CEARA - Centro de Eventos da Cidade de Fortaleza Fortaleza, Brazil. T:+55 (84) 3231.6291 E:

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antibiotics, probiotics and FEED additives KEETON INDUSTRIES INC................................................................23 1520 Aquatic Drive Wellington, Colorado 80549, USA. Contacto: Aney Carver T: 800.493.4831 o 970.568.7754 (USA) E-mail: Lucky star......................................................................................9 Contact: Ken Hung E-mail: Reed Mariculture, Inc................................................................59 900 E Hamilton Ave, Suite 100. Campbell, CA 95008 USA. Contact: Lin T: 408.377.1065 F: 408.884.2322 E-mail: aeration equipment, PUMPS, FILTERS and measuring instruments Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems, Inc...........................back cover 2395 Apopka Blvd. Apopka, Florida, Zip Code 32703, USA. Contact: Ricardo Arias T: (407) 8863939, (407) 8864884 E-mail: RK2 Systems.................................................................................61 421 A south Andreassen Drive Escondido California. Contact: Chris Krechter. T: 760 746 74 00 E-mail: Sun Asia Aeration Int´l Co., Ltd.................................................17 15f, 7, Ssu-wei 4 road, Ling-ya District, Kaohsiung, 82047 Táiwan R.O.C. Contact: Ema Ma. T: 886 7537 0017, 886 7537 0016 E-mail: YSI..................................................................................................11 1700/1725 Brannum Lane-P.O. Box 279, Yellow Springs, OH. 45387,USA. Contact: Tim Groms.

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events and exhibitions 2nd Science and Technology Meeting on Shrimp Farming.........75 January 28th - 29th, 2016. Cd. Ogregón, Sonora, Mexico. Contact: Christian Criollos, E-mail:

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6th International Congress of Aquaponics and 2ndAquaculture World Symposium in Arid Areas......................53 November 9th - 13th, 2015. La Paz, Baja California Sur. Mexico. T: +52 (33) 12-01-07-73 E: 10º FIACUI...................................................................................35 November 4th - 6th, 2015. Guadalajara, Mexico. Information on Booths Contact in Mexico: Christian Criollos, International Sales Steve Reynolds, | Aqua 2015....................................................Inside front cover October 19th - 22th, 2015 Hotel Hilton Colon. Guayaquil, Ecuador. E-mail:, FENACAM 2015...........................................................................39 November 16th - 19th, 2015. Fortaleza, Brazil. Tel: + 55 84 3231-9786 E-mail: The 11th ShangHai International fisheries & Seafood exposition................................................................................27 August 26th - 28th, 2016. Shanghai, China. E-mail: fISH FARM DUTCHBOY FARMS..........................................................................41 T: (208) 552 9675 E-mail:

AADAP PROGRAM...........................................................................25 Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership Program BACK cover Web portal · Newsletters · Magazine · Conferences · Technical Consulting. seafood professionals.............................................................29 RAS SYSTEMS, DESIGN, EQUIPMENT SUPPORT AQUACARE......................................................................................57 T: 1 360 734 7964 SEAFOOD Suram Trading Corporation ....................................................33 2655 Le Jeune Road Suite 1006. Coral Gables, Florida 33134. Contact: Kristina Adler T: 305 448 7165 Fax: 305 445 7185 E-mail: SPECIALIZED LITERATURE IN AQUACULTURE “Aquaculture, Resource Use, and the Environment”..........49 By: Claude Boyd, Aaron McNevin. February 2015, Wiley-Blackwell. Buy online:

Aquaculture Magazine October / November 2015 Volume 41 Number 5  

Oyster Hatchery Opens on Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Aquaculture Magazine October / November 2015 Volume 41 Number 5  

Oyster Hatchery Opens on Grand Isle, Louisiana.