Friday, May 1, 2015

01/05/2015: Day-tripping across the Gulf - 25,000 farmed Sea Trout on the move and copepod feed research

by Tom Blacker, International Aquafeed

First published in International Aquafeed, March-April 2015 

On Monday 24th February 2015, Tom Blacker of IAF visited two special scientific research sites for aquaculture. He followed the journey of 25,000 trout from the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Gulf Coast Research Laboratory – The Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Centre’s RAS system near Gulfport and Biloxi - to the Lyman Fish Hatchery. He reports below on copepods, trout and more from Mississippi, USA
Tom (rt) with a staff member

Travelling from New Orleans with a group of around 40 delegates from the Aquaculture America 2015 conference, the first faces welcoming our group on one of six mini tours of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Centre were researchers Michael and Adam.

Adam was a leading researcher of copepods and actively works with Dr Eric Henry from Reed Mariculture in using their InstantAlgae products.

Adam explained that non-algal live diets are his research area of specialism at the moment and he is looking to produce around 500,000,000 (that’s half a billion) copepods per week. He admits to an ambition of being part of the Centre’s goal to be the world leader in copepod production. These will be used for feed trials. After a stint researching many different aquaculture species in Hawaii he prefers now to work with slightly looser regulations on imports and exports of fish and supplies in Mississippi.

He explained in detail that feeding sea trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) rotifers result in unpredictable outcomes whereas copepods are better, after much hard work to develop it fully. Also red snappers are efficient consumers of copepods.
There were many buildings at the Centre over its 20ha (45 acres) of space for aquaculture, each housing different species and for different research experiments.
There were some Integrated Recycling System raceways for shrimp, RAS tanks for red snapper and trout as well in the Centre’s complex.
An outside greenhouse in the centre cultivates and fixes waste-water produced by the site. Water reeds were growing for both marsh research into environmentally friendlier aquaponics for the Centre and beyond. They hope to expand aquaponics to fix water for use on the water produced from the shrimp raceways as well as being sustainable.
Following the tour bus
At around mid-morning of the tour, the 25,000 trout were counted by hand and then pumped into the stainless steel trailer on the back of a USM truck. The truck then followed the tour’s bus from Jackson County to Harrison County to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Lyman Fish Hatchery Centre which is located 30 miles north-west on Fish Hatchery Road, just off the Little Bilox River and Interstate 10.
The leader at the Lyman Fish Hatchery is Dr Kelly Lucas (left), the Chief Scientific Director of the DMR. Dr Lucas gave a brief history of his 113ha (280 acre) site: the Hatchery began in the early 1930s and transferred to the DMR in 2007. 

From 2008 they have broadened their remit into both freshwater and saltwater species for research and commercial partners.
First, we visited a new building at the western end of the site, which is being converted from a veterinary centre to a new visitor’s centre. After this the tour went around the large lakes on the eastern side. The lakes are saltwater and are manually salinated with salt purchased in large quantities and at a large expense for the hatchery and stored in large blue upright tanks.

The dramatic action of the day was the pumping out of the 25,000 trout into one of the 0.2ha (half-acre) lined ponds.

Michael from the GCRL held the pump. With a continually fast rate of pumping, he took around 10 minutes to pump all the trout into the pond when at which point he said that they will look dizzy or even floating like they have perished in the process, but they will all be absolutely fine. Sure enough, visible fish gradually disappeared towards the centre of the pond and then down into the darker water.

In this hatchery’s site there are 14 modern, purpose-built outdoor pools with a capacity of each being 25-cubic metres and three much older, manually-dug pools further to the south of the newer ponds.

The older ponds were the first ponds at the complex in the 1930s.

Today, one of these older ponds holds an outdoor crab hatchery. In more recent times, an indoor crab hatchery was added for development of the farmed blue crab species that are held in the RAS tanks here. Blue crabs can be grown in just nine months and tests in the R&D stages are experimenting with diets and solitary living conditions to maximise the rate of growth.
The current batch that I saw were at the end of their life and are likely to move on to be used for other purposes soon.

As citing William McLarney shows, the Gulf of Mexico coastline is a part of the US that can support all types of extensive and intensive crab farming. Marine farming of crabs can be achieved in theory around this rather wooded and lagoon-stricken region.

The crabs were in freshwater tanks alone, apparently because of their carnivorous behaviour patterns that amused the entire group!
With that the tour was over and we all returned to the Aquaculture America Conference hotel in central New Orleans.

We look forward to hearing more and keeping in touch with these organisations that are striving to build an aquaculture ecosystem for all in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Centre

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources

Read the magazine HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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