Why and how did you get into the aquaculture industry?
I began my career at a university and spent 6 years in aquaculture research. It became clear there was a real need for full-time expertise in the private sector, so I formed my company, Fisheries Technology Associates in 1982. The rest, as they say, is history.
The US has $9 billion seafood trade deficit.
Why do you think this is?
Engaging in aquaculture in the U.S. is relatively expensive. We have a cumbersome regulatory structure and operating costs tend to be higher than in other nations. While we profess to be pro-agriculture, the reality is somewhat different.
What will it take to change this?
There needs to be more urgency on the part of politicians, regulators, and the financial community relative to food security in this country. We simply assume food will be there when we want it, and we are slow to accept what it actually takes to make that happen.
Why is North America slow to adopt RAS technology?
Once again, the regulatory structure tends to stand in the way. Without getting too detailed, producing small quantities of wastewater is not necessarily viewed, from a regulatory perspective, in a positive light. Second, RAS is very capital-intensive and capital is difficult to acquire these days, particularly for agriculture unless it is highly profitable. More attractive aquaculture investment opportunities can be found elsewhere in the world.
Does the government have a role to play in the future of aquaculture?
Without a doubt! A more coherent and reasonable regulatory structure will go a long way to securing the future of aquaculture both here and in other locations around the world.
What should someone consider before starting a new aquaculture operation?
A comprehensive feasibility analysis and business plan is the only reasonable place to start. It's your road map to success. Without it, you have little or no chance to succeed. Additionally, you should be evaluated by an aquaculture professional for your suitability. You may find that aquaculture is not the right business for you. You need to be asked the right questions.
How would you advise someone looking to expand their aquaculture operation?
Expansion is a function of the market and your financial position. Again, a business plan makes the most sense in this situation.
Are there any species that are underutilized presently?
There are always new species emerging as candidates for aquaculture. The industry has matured to the point where new opportunities are capitalized relatively quickly. However, having said that, species such as cobia, grouper, tuna, and others provide plenty of opportunity for new entrants to the industry.
Bill Manci, president of FTA, Inc., created the company in 1982 after receiving his formal training in zoology and fisheries science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and after a six-year career in aquaculture research. Bill has been a consultant since 1980 and has worked on many types of aquaculture and fish farming projects throughout the U.S.A. and other nations. He also has published more than 300 technical and popular articles on the subjects of aquaculture and fish farming, and served as an expert witness in aquaculture and fisheries-related litigation.
Follow Bill on Twitter at @FTAFishNews
Hot on the heels of a comprehensive Time Magazine cover story spotlighting aquaculture, the US federal government announced today a new initiative to help meet a growing demand for seafood, while creating jobs and restoring healthy ecosystems.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquaculture Technology Transfer Initiative will foster public-private partnerships on regional projects that showcase innovative sustainable practices, jump start private sector investments, and create employment opportunities in coastal communities.
“Aquaculture is a critical component to meeting increasing global demand for seafood,” said NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco. “Job creation is a major focus of this administration. This initiative provides an opportunity to support innovation and growth in the private aquaculture sector, resulting in a healthy, local seafood supply and job growth at our working waterfronts.”
In June, the Department of Commerce and NOAA released national policies that support sustainable marine aquaculture in the United States. Americans import about 84 percent of their seafood, half of which is from aquaculture. The U.S. trade deficit in seafood currently exceeds $10 billion and continues to grow.
“Aquaculture can be a significant contributor to a ‘blue-green’ economy that both contributes to and benefits from healthy oceans and coasts,” Lubchenco said.
As part of this initiative, NOAA will work with its partners in the private sector, academia, government and communities to advance technology, monitor performance indicators, and showcase best practices and market-based standards. The initiative will be implemented with the active involvement of NOAA’s regional offices and science centers, Sea Grant Extension, and other federal, state, local and non-governmental partners.
Only 5% of the seafood consumed in the United States is from domestic aquaculture. AquaOptima used Octaform for this tank-build in Norway. To see the case study, click here.
The domestic aquaculture industry, both freshwater and marine, currently supplies about five percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. The cultivation of shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels, comprises about two-thirds of U.S. marine aquaculture. Salmon and shrimp aquaculture contribute about 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Current production takes place mainly on land, in ponds, and in coastal state waters.
Aquaculture is in the forefront of the news lately with a large Canadian grocery chain pledging to remove red-listed seafood from its shelves and the US Congress blocking the approval of genetically modified salmon. Now Time magazine is weighing in.
This week's cover story, "The End of the Line" takes a hard look at the last wild food and how aquaculture may be its savior.
The UN reports that 32% of global fish stocks are either overexploited or depleted and up to 90% of large species are "fished-out".
Once common species like cod are almost extinct.
With this decline in stocks has come an upswing in demand for seafood. A growing middle class in developing countries across the planet are demanding high quality protein. The answer, according to the article, is in aquaculture.
Fish farming is hardly a new concept but it is in the last 50 years that it has really emerged as an industry. This industry is not without its controversies, however. Marine conservationists, while conceding the relief that farmed fish offers wild stocks, worry that open pen aquaculture inadvertently introduces disease and waste into the coastal waters used to raise the fish.
Recirculating aquaculture systems operating in farms such as Australis' barramundi operation in Massachusetts may end that debate. These systems attempt to replicate the natural life cycle of fish in a tank environment isolated from wild species and also managing the effluent created in the process.
In 2006, Australis used Octaform to build its tanks.
Click here to see how Octaform can create the ideal closed-containment environment for aquaculture.
The RAS model is not without its challenges, however. Some fish are better suited to it than others and most of the time it is more costly. Advances in technology are promising quicker yields and less environmental impact than open pen farming and although this has yet to be proven, projects are underway on both coasts of Canada (see here and here) to prove that closed containment technologies are a viable option from both an environmental and an economic perspective.
Ultimately, the article suggests, we may have little choice in the matter. With an exploding global need for high quality protein and a steadily depleting source, aquaculture will need to step up.
"...if we're all going to survive and thrive in a crowded world, we'll need to cultivate the seas just as we do the land. If we do it right, aquaculture can be one more step toward saving ourselves. And if we do it well, we may even enjoy the taste of it."
Read the full text of the Time Magazine feature here: "The End of the Line"
For more on Octaform aquaculture, click here.
Atlantic halibut, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass and shark are among the red-listed species already removed from the shelves of Safeway.
One of Western Canada’s largest grocery retailers, Safeway announced this week their Sustainable Seafood Policy in partnership with SeaChoice, a national Canadian coalition of leading environmental organizations working to protect the health of our oceans by improving the sustainability of seafood.
At the core of Safeway’s policy is their sustainable seafood commitment: by 2015, all fresh and frozen seafood will be sourced from sustainable and traceable sources, or be in a credible improvement project. To meet this goal, SeaChoice and Canada Safeway will engage with the retailer’s suppliers to assess and improve sustainable seafood procurement, as well as educate employees and customers about the environmental concerns associated with seafood.
One of the most sustainable sources of seafood is from recirculating aquaculture systems. Hardy species like Tilapia can thrive in a tank environment nourished on a low-protein trout feed without chemicals or antibiotics. Atlantic salmon are also proving to be a great sustainable source of farm-raised protein (see here and here).
RAS farm-raised Salmon, Tilapia, Trout, Bass, Abalone and Barramundi are just some of the species currently green-listed by SeaChoice as the most sustainable sources of seafood.
“As one of Western Canada’s largest food retailers, Safeway is committed to continue transitioning our seafood to sustainable sources over time to make a measurable difference in the planet’s ecosystems,” said Chuck Mulvenna, Canada Safeway CEO. “While the oceans have provided healthy food choices for generations, there is clear scientific evidence that many species of marine life are being threatened. Safeway’s seafood sustainability policy outlines our commitment to provide sustainable options for our customers to enjoy.“
Click here to learn about Octaform's aquaculture tank solutions.
The partnership between Canada Safeway and SeaChoice is in collaboration with the US partnership of Safeway Inc. and FishWise, a California-based non-profit focused on helping seafood retailers, distributors and producers develop and implement comprehensive sustainable seafood policies. Canada Safeway’s Sustainable Seafood Policy is consistent with the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood. Common Vision is an ambitious, but realistic guide to environmentally responsible seafood for businesses, developed by more than fifteen of North America’s leading ocean conservation organisations. Both SeaChoice and FishWise are members of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, which developed the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood in which Safeway’s Sustainable Seafood Policy is based.
Wyoming's Dan Speas Rearing Station is looking to triple current fish production with the completion of its $14 million expansion and renovation project.
Currently producing over 100,000 lbs of fish for the state's anglers, Wyoming Game and Fish will not only increase production but also bring its recirculating aquaculture system into the 21st century. Improving its effluent treatment and protecting its natural spring, the project will increase production but also help to preserve Wyoming's valuable natural resources.
Wyoming Game and Fish chose Octaform to form and protect their concrete tanks.
Built in 1958, the 17-acre rearing station is located 19.5 miles southwest of Casper on the banks of the North Platte River. One of the most unusual and important things about this station is its constant water supply. A nearby spring produces 9 million gallons of water a day at a constant year-round temperature of 60 degrees F.
The water at the Speas facility is the warmest of all the state hatcheries. Fish grow fast at Speas, with four-inch fish produced in 120 days! They grow at a rate of 0.75 to 1.0 inches per month, year-round. Species reared at Speas include Snake River cutthroat, brown trout and rainbow trout.
Check out the video below for some details on the project:
Old McDonald had a farm...
...and on his farm he had a tank full of tilapia?
With an ever-increasing global need for sustainable animal protein, agriculturists are turning to aquaculture for an alternative source of revenue.
Currently the fastest growing segment in the farming industry, inland aquaculture is taking off in a big way.
Here are 5 reasons why...
America’s appetite for seafood is growing and with 83% of it being imported from outside of the country, farmers are recognizing an opportunity to feed this demand from their existing infrastructures.
Montana Farmers Raising Salmon
At the end of last year, the Miller Hutterite Colony in Montana suspended hog-farming in favor of Coho salmon. Working with Envirotech Ag Systems and Aquaseed Corp., they started the first ever commercial salmon farm in the state.
The UN has estimated that the world's food output needs to double by 2050. With depleting wild stocks and an increasing demand for seafood, land-based, closed-containment aquaculture offers a sustainable source of protein that can be grown locally.
Bruce Swift runs a land-based aquaculture
operation in Aggasiz, British Columbia.
Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) technology is becoming cheaper, more efficient and environmentally friendly. Tank technology now offers a diverse selection of options from smaller FRP (fiberglass) tanks to larger energy efficient PVC-lined concrete tanks.
Smart aquaculture operations are now producing profitable byproducts from their effuse. High-value greenhouse crops like tomatoes can be fertilized with fish waste water. At the same time, tomato beds are used as sand biofilters to clean the water of ammonia wastes so that it can be recycled back into the fish tanks.
Aquaculture has long been recognized as a growth industry by post-secondary institutions; high school agriculture programs are also starting to follow suit.
Agriculture Students turn to Aquaculture
Smart, sustainable aquaculture is getting a boost from a new breed of pro-business activist.
The Save Our Salmon Marine Conservation Foundation (SOS) is a group of Western Canadians dedicated to protecting wild salmon by advancing innovation in aquaculture. Not content to merely focus on the problems associated with open net/cage salmon farming, SOS is actively looking for solutions to these challenges.
photo by Alex Morton
SOS's latest project was to commision a study looking into the viability of land-based closed containment aquaculture. Completed in May of 2010, Dr. Andrew Wright's "Technologies for Viable Salmon Aquaculture - An Examination of Land-Based Closed Containment Aquaculture" asked if recirculation aquaculture systems were a viable option in British Columbia. Its conclusion? A resounding yes.
That report has catalyzed a pilot project on the northern tip of Vancouver Island with the 'Namgis First Nation. Currently in the engineering and design phase, this pilot aquaculture project hopes to be harvesting Atlantic salmon by the final quarter of 2012 with the sustained production rate of 200 tonnes of salmon per year.
For details on this project and the reports cited above, visit SOS at saveoursalmon.ca