Submitted to: American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/29/2010
Publication Date: 5/1/2010
Citation: Pfeiffer, T.J. 2010. Recirculation technology – The future of aquaculture. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. 17(3):7-9.
Technical Abstract: The production of farmed fish is eclipsing that of wild caught fish and will be supplying half of the total fish and shellfish for human consumption. With limited resources to increase the wild harvest fishing industry, the U. S. and foreign countries are expanding their aquaculture production. Between 2004 and 2006 the annual growth rate of the aquaculture industry was 6.1% in volume and 11% in value. Currently, the United States imports 80% of its seafood and future domestic seafood consumption is likely to see a greater percentage of its overall consumption imported from foreign sources. As per capita consumption of seafood increases in the United States and throughout the world, USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists and engineers across the country are exploring research and development solutions to some of aquaculture’s biggest challenges including improving aquatic animal health and growth efficiency; developing feeds that improve feed efficiency, reduce feed conversion ratios, and substituting nonfish ingredients into formulated feeds, and conservation of water using water recirculation and reuse technology. The USDA ARS Sustainable Tank Aquaculture Recirculating Research facility located in Fort Pierce, FL is conducting research and development to address the challenges of marine aquaculture. Scientists and engineers at the facility are working to establish and develop technologies for rearing marine fish in low-cost, energy efficient, low-salinity recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) as well as developing innovations in water reuse, waste management, fish feeds, and energy use. Research has been conducted with species as diverse as the southern flounder, summer flounder, hybrid striped bass, and black sea bass. Most recently, research is focused on developing technologies to rear Florida pompano in low-salinity RAS from juveniles to market size. Many of the challenges being addressed through research can advance the utilization of intensive, energy efficient recirculating aquaculture systems, and move forward the understanding of the nutritional value of feedstuffs to increase nutrient uptake, lower feed costs, and reduce the amount of waste generated while promoting optimal growth and development, improved product quality and production efficiency. Such improvements can help cut costs and energy that will maximize profits per unit of volume. These technologies together will improve market competitiveness for domestic producers and help expand the U.S. aquaculture industry and reduce the U.S. trade deficit, increase job market opportunities for inland rural sectors, increase crop diversity, and enhance food biosecurity.