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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Design, loading, and water quality in recirculating systems for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) at the USDA ARS National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center (Franklin, ME)

item Wolters, William
item Master, Amanda - FRESHWATER INSTITUTE
item Summerfelt, Steven - FRESHWATER INSTITUTE

Submitted to: Journal of Aquaculture Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 28, 2009
Publication Date: September 11, 2009
Citation: Wolters, W.R., Master, A., Vinci, B., Summerfelt, S. 2009. Design, loading, and water quality in recirculating systems for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) at the USDA ARS National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center (Franklin, ME). Journal of Aquaculture Engineering. 41:60-70.

Interpretive Summary: The National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center (NCWMAC) is a new research facility established by the USDA ARS to improve the efficiency and sustainability of coldwater marine finfish farming. The initial focus of center research in Franklin (i.e., the basis for this facility’s design) is to develop an Atlantic salmon breeding program that will improve fish growth and other economically important traits in stocks that are entirely composed of North American germplasm. Production modeling and bio-plan for the Franklin facility were completed in 2004 and the final design of the aquaculture systems was completed in 2005. Construction began in Franklin in May 2006 and was completed by May 2007. The facility was designed to meet strict biosecurity standards for raising Atlantic salmon from eggs to 4-year-old fish while maintaining separate fish culture systems for separate year classes. The location has unique ground water resources to supply freshwater, brackish water, salt water or filtered seawater to fish culture tanks. Atlantic salmon grew well during the first 7-8 months of operation in the reuse fish culture systems. The systems were operated at approximately 98% reuse (2% makeup water on the basis of flow rate). Water quality in the fish culture systems was acceptable for Atlantic salmon culture and was nearly the same as flow through culture systems. Several advantages for utilizing reuse fish culture systems were evident for culturing Atlantic salmon. The Franklin location has limited ground water so reuse systems are the only possible technology for culturing the relatively large salmon biomass required for the research program. The design of the effluent system and characteristics waste water flow from the facility demonstrates better solids capture than flow through fish culture systems. The use of groundwater, reuse culture technologies, and effective biosecurity protocols has resulted in fish health certification for the facility and fish stocks. Water temperature in the fish culture systems has been largely maintained by passive heating or cooling of makeup water flowing through the well water tower. No expensive supplemental heating or cooling has been required. The information is valuable for others to build effective and economical systems for aquacultural applications.

Technical Abstract: The Northeastern U.S has the ideal location and unique opportunity to be a leader in cold-water marine finfish aquaculture. However, problems and regulations on environmental issues, mandatory stocking of 100 percent native North American salmon, and disease have impacted economic viability of the U.S. salmon industry. In response to these problems, the USDA ARS developed the National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center (NCWMAC) in Franklin, Maine. The NCWMAC is adjacent to the University of Maine Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research on the shore of Taunton Bay and shares essential infrastructure to maximize efficiency. Facilities are used to conduct research on Atlantic salmon and other coldwater marine finfish species. The initial research focus for the Franklin location is to develop a comprehensive Atlantic salmon breeding program from native North American fish stocks leading to the development and release of genetically improved salmon to commercial producers. The Franklin location has unique ground water resources to supply freshwater, brackish water, salt water or filtered seawater to fish culture tanks. Research facilities include office space, primary and secondary hygiene rooms, and research tank bays for culturing 200+ Atlantic salmon families with incubation, parr, smolt, on-grow, and broodstock tanks. Tank sizes are 0.14 m3 for parr, 9 m3 for smolts, and 36 m3, 46 m3 and 90 m3 for subadults and broodfish. Culture tanks are equipped with recirculating systems utilizing biological (fluidized sand) filtration, carbon dioxide stripping, supplemental oxygenation and ozonation, and ultraviolet sterilization. Water from the research facility discharges into a wastewater treatment building and passes through micro-screen drum filtration, an inclined traveling belt screen to exclude all eggs or fish from the discharge, and UV irradiation to disinfect the water. The facility was completed in June 2007, and all water used in the facility has been from groundwater sources. Mean facility discharge has been approximately 0.50 m3/min (130 gpm). The facility was designed for stocking densities of 20-47 kg/m3 and a maximum biomass of 26,000 kg. The maximum system density obtained from June 2007 through January 2008 has approached 40 kg/m3, maximum facility biomass was 11,021 kg, water exchange rates have typically been 2-3% of the recirculating system flow rate, and tank temperatures have ranged from a high of 15.4 deg C in July to a low of 6.6 deg C in January 2008 without supplemental heating or cooling.

Last Modified: 8/28/2016
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