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Posts Tagged ‘aquaculture’

Photo: Catherine Smart for The Boston Globe
Steelhead trout from the University of New Hampshire aquaculture program.

As the tension between traditional fishing and the sustainability of the marine environment increases, so do hopes that some fishermen will get interested in the new approaches to aquaculture.

One new approach is being tested at the University of New Hampshire in collaboration with a New England chef.

Catherine Smart writes at the Boston Globe, “About a year ago, Jeremy Sewall — chef and partner of Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar restaurants, and the recently opened Les Sablons — was scrolling through his Instagram feed when he spotted a glistening, speckled Steelhead trout from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. in Brooklyn. The caption read that it was raised through the aquaculture program at the University of New Hampshire.

“As Sewall tells it, ‘I screenshot that picture and send it to my purchaser Phil and say, “Find me this fish, I own a restaurant in New Hampshire and I need to find this fish.” ‘

“The rainbow trout in question was raised by Michael Chambers, a research scientist at UNH’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering.

It was grown in an offshore pen that bears little resemblance to the stagnant, antibiotic-filled fish ponds people might associate with aquaculture.

“Many phone calls to the marine biology department later, purchaser Phil found Chambers and set up a meeting with Sewall. The scientist and the chef sat down to lunch. ‘Come to find out, that was kind of the end of the project. They had raised the fish [he saw on social media] and they weren’t sure what they were going to do next year, and I was like, “We have to do this, it’s incredible,” ‘ says Sewall.”

So they partnered.

Smart describes meeting Chambers and Sewall at the Judd Gregg Marine Science Complex and heading out with them to feed the fish.

Chambers said, “ ‘As a biologist, you want to see your chicken, your cows, every day — so you can see if they are healthy. If something is up, you can catch it right away.’  …

” ‘What’s unique about this is that we have a floating system that’s designed to hold fish at the center. And we have these,” he says, pulling up tubes of nylon netting, filled with mussels and seaweed growing on rope. ‘These act as biological filters, or a biological curtain, which are now taking nutrients that the fish give off and are absorbing them, taking that nitrogen out of the system.’  This Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture system, known as IMTA, is a big part of what sets Chambers’s project apart. …

“As a restaurateur, Sewall sees a major business opportunity, likening Chambers’s method of fish farming to the small organic farms that chefs patronize to get the best meat and produce. He is willing to wait for the fish to grow and is eager to create new dishes to showcase the end product.”

More at the Globe, here.

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Wouldn’t it be strange if China, the smog capital of the world, started assuming leadership on environmental causes like global warming, clean air, and … sustainable fish farming.

The PRI radio show Living on Earth recently explained how China was tackling the latter challenge.

“Consumer demand in both the U.S. and China for safe and healthy farmed fish is shaping aquaculture practices in the world’s most populous country. And fish farmers are using traditional Chinese medicine as well as high-tech monitoring systems as they strive to keep their fish healthy and their farming practices transparent. Jocelyn Ford reports from the Hainan Province. …

“HAN HAN: With such a huge population in China, if we didn’t have aquaculture, if we totally relied on the wild fishery. I guess we would already running out of all these wild fish, maybe 10 or 20 years ago.

“FORD: That’s Han Han, the founder of the China Blue Sustainability Institute, China’s first non-governmental, environmental organization focused on sustainable fishing and aquaculture. Today, aquaculture accounts for one of every two fish that land on the dinner table worldwide, and it’s growing faster than other sources of animal protein. China is the global aquaculture leader, and because of its expertise here, it wants to help other countries. …

“Aquaculture is expanding globally at about five percent a year, and that’s a plus for some of the Earth’s most pressing environmental issues. For example, compared to a pound of beef, a pound of fish has only about one-seventh of the carbon footprint. But large-scale aquaculture has created new problems. Naturally, farmed fish need to eat. And gone are the days when Chinese fish farms were all organic. Qi Genliu is a professor at Shanghai Ocean University.

“QI: Traditionally we used grass to culture grass carp.

“FORD: That changed with the growth of the fish feed industry and the need to feed carnivorous marine fish [and keep them disease free with antibiotics]. …

“The founder and president of The Fishin’ Company, Manish Kumar, started coming to Hainan to build a coalition for a safer, more environmentally sound and sustainable tilapia industry [using traditional herbal medicine instead of antibiotics]. His company is sponsoring trainings, and offering financial incentives to a few model farms that invest in improvements. The idea is, others will follow suit if they see it makes financial sense. …

“FORD: His ideas include increasing omega-3 levels in the tilapia, the fish oil that may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. To help reassure customers who are nervous about what their fish are eating, next year he’s planning a state of the art oversight system that involves cameras, QR codes, and consumer monitoring.

“KUMAR: We will now proceed to do something no one in the industry has done before. Put a camera system into the farm area. A customer buys a bag of fish. You have a QR code on the bag. Run your smartphone through our QR code on the bag, and you will have a chance to see the actual farm that raised this fish in your bag. And how it’s being raised.

“FORD: Customers can see the type of feed, and the plant where the feed was made, and the insomniacs can watch the fish grow 24/7. Manish Kumar says the extra cost will be negligible. As the largest supplier of tilapia, he expects to be able to take advantage of economies of scale.”

More at Living on Earth, here, where you can learn more about the use of Chinese herbal medicine to ensure the fish stay healthy.

Photo: Jocelyn Ford
Harvesting tilapia for export on an internationally certified farm in China.

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According to Frank Carini at EcoRI, the humble quahog clam is keeping Rhode Island running. Carini waxed poetic about the quahog after a shellfish-focused event last fall meant to help the state manage its hardest-working resource more efficiently.

Speaker Bob Rheault “noted that the farming and harvesting of shellfish doesn’t require antibiotics and fertilizers. He referred to them as a healthy ‘super food,’ and called bivalves the ‘vacuum cleaners of our oceans.’ …

“The shellfish that inhabit Rhode Island waters are part of the Ocean State’s social and cultural fabric,” adds Carini, “and are integral pieces of a marine ecosystem that provides economic, employment, recreational and environmental benefits. …

“ Despite the obvious economic and environmental benefits provided by the state’s shellfish industry, it has long been, for the most part, operating as a collection of individual parts. …

“To get a better handle on the state’s shellfish industry and to make sure it remains sustainable, [several] agencies have invested more than a million dollars and teamed up with an array of individuals and organizations to develop the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan. … Quahoggers are collaborating with scientists to resolve some of the doubts about the biology of the resource. A cooperative study funded by the Southern New England Collaborative Research Initiative enrolls commercial quahoggers to pull bullrakes alongside the hydraulic clam dredge utilized by DEM to measure the density of quahogs on the bottom — a measurement that is then used to inform stock assessment calculations.”

Questions remain. “For example, should aquaculture be recognized as agriculture to clarify ownership and rights to harvest? What does Rhode Island gain in terms of economic value by restoring shellfish populations? How will restoration success be measured? …

“Among Rhode Island’s diverse collection of shellfish, the quahog is the most economically important resource harvested from Narragansett Bay. In fact, Ocean State quahogs once supported the largest outboard-motor fishing fleet in the world. But the price of quahogs hasn’t changed much over the years, making it increasingly difficult for quahoggers to stay in business.

“In Rhode Island, the state’s aquaculture industry, which is largely oysters, is approaching $3 million in annual sales. In fact, this sector of the local shellfish industry is one of the few growth industries in the state, growing by about 15 percent annually during the past decade.”

In 2013, “the number of farms in Rhode Island increased from 43 to 50, and oysters remained the top aquaculture product, with 4,303,886 sold for consumption, according to the CRMC’s 2012 report. …

“ ‘We have to understand the system to manage it and achieve the proper balance,’ [Coastal Resource Management Council] director Grover Fugate said. ‘We have to balance the uses while protecting the resource. We need to develop a better management regime, and because of climate change we will always be adjusting this regime.’ ”

More here.

This morning my two-year-old granddaughter woke up and told her parents she wanted clams. (But that’s another story.)

Photo: Wikimedia
Quahogs

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How delightful! Suzanne told me that Georgia’s childhood friend Jules calls his Rhode Island oyster business Walrus and Carpenter.

Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” was the first poem I memorized in school. I was 11. It was a long poem but not too hard after memorizing the script of Alice in Wonderland at 10 (I was Alice’s understudy).

Here’s where oysters come in:

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The oldest oyster is wary and has no intention of leaving his oyster bed. But a slew of young oysters jump up, ready for a pleasant walk and talk. After many verses:

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Read the whole poem, here.

And if you are in Rhode Island, please check out Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. On their website, you will find bios about the oyster cultivators on the team and information on where to show up for their current dinner series.

Suzanne particularly recommends reading some of the links on the company’s press page, especially the one to the New Yorker article (here) about how a dismantled bamboo art installation from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art called Big Bambú ended up making oysters happy in Rhode Island.

Photo of the original John Tenniel art: wikimedia.org

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A swell time was had by all at the 350th anniversary of British settlers landing their boats on the shores of what is still the smallest community in the smallest state! The sun shone, the speakers were brief, and lots of pictures were taken.

I thought we had come a long way as a country when several speakers, including the governor, acknowledged that the Manissean Indians were there first and that there would be another ceremony at the Indian Cemetery the following weekend, with another commemorative marker.

The governor, who had earlier visited an oyster aquaculture area by boat, was brief and gracious. Interesting speakers included a Rear Admiral with a surname that is pronounced — I kid you not — Neptune. He gave the chief of police an award for a risky rescue at sea last year.

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar was there because it was a Dutch navigator who originally named the island as he sailed by without landing. British Consul General Budden, based in Boston, made jokes about his brother who is the Consul General in Vancouver and the bet he intended to collect since Boston won hockey’s Stanley Cup. Budden was invited because the British were the ones who landed at Settlers’ Rock 350 years ago. He said that Britain today is the biggest foreign investor in Rhode Island. The chorus of the island school (which had recently graduated all seven seniors) sang the Alma Mater and “America the Beautiful.”

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (in green blazer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Warden Kim Gaffett (in straw hat) and governor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar (in white suit)

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