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USDA Aquaculture Center Gets New Home

By Sharon Durham
August 31, 2001

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31--A new U.S. Department of Agriculture research center for cool- and cold-water aquaculture was dedicated in West Virginia this morning. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service operates the new National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture (NCCCWA) in Leetown, W.Va.

Sen. Robert Byrd was the keynote speaker for the dedication, and ARS Administrator Floyd Horn was the master of ceremonies.

“The aquaculture industry is the fastest-growing agriculture commodity in the United States, but domestic producers now provide only 10 percent of U.S. seafood needs,” Horn said. “Also, the U.S. ranks only 10th in the world in the value of production. These two statistics provide the impetus for creating this research center.”

ARS, the USDA’s chief scientific research agency, conducts research on catfish at Stoneville, Miss., and on warm-water species at Stuttgart, Ark. NCCCWA will focus on fish that are produced in water temperatures ranging from 39 to 68 degrees F. The center’s research priorities include fish genetics and breeding, health, nutrition and production. Scientists will focus initially on trout and other salmonids, and plan to study other species later.

The NCCCWA facility includes a tank/aquaria building of approximately 20,000 square feet and a laboratory and office complex of about 30,000 square feet. The facility now has five scientists and five support staff. At full capacity, 12 full-time scientists and 18 support personnel will work at the facility.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Leetown Science Center (LSC) made land available for the facility on the federally owned campus it occupies. This will help the new center and the nearby Freshwater Institute in Shepherdstown, W.Va., to continue to collaborate on research programs in the future. The new center will also allow ARS to develop new collaborative programs with other state and national institutions and agencies that conduct aquaculture-industry-linked research.