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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Leetown, West Virginia » Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #351623

Research Project: Developing and Refining Technologies for Sustainable Fish Growth in Closed Containment Systems

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Title: Freshwater Institute: Focused on improving recirculating aquaculture system technology

item SUMMERFELT, STEVEN - Freshwater Institute

Submitted to: Fish Farming News
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2017
Publication Date: 12/1/2017
Citation: Summerfelt, S.T. 2017. Freshwater Institute: Focused on improving recirculating aquaculture system technology. Fish Farming News. 24(6):12-18.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technologies help to overcome barriers to domestic aquaculture expansion and enhance the sustainability of the modern fish farming industry through reduction in environmental impacts. With RAS, fish farm expansion is no longer highly constrained by competition for limited water resources, fish farm sites, or strict regulations on pollution discharge. In addition, nutrients can be reclaimed and incorporated into additional revenue streams, fish escape can be prevented, and disease interaction between farmed and wild fish can be minimized or eliminated. However, at present the relatively higher capital cost of RAS-based production facilities can present a barrier to the widespread implementation of this production model. The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute has been working with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to develop RAS technologies and practices for nearly 3 decades. This article describes the facility and human resources available at the Freshwater Institute, which is located on a 40+ hectare farm just outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The campus allows research and demonstration for water influent, production system and effluent technologies while maintaining biosecurity and flexibility. It includes a spring source that supplies 2000-4000 L/min of groundwater at 13°C, as well as 7 RAS with biofilters, 18 partial water reuse systems, and 39 flow-through tanks. The replicated systems and tanks are used in controlled studies to address technology challenges facing domestic RAS producers by aiming to: reduce capital costs, improve energy efficiency, reduce water requirements, increase nutrient removal, and improve salmonid performance, health, welfare, and quality when produced in land-based systems. Researchers consist of a multi-disciplinary team that includes biologists, engineers, and an aquatic veterinarian; additional staff consist of a certified electrician, a master plumber, environmental chemists, interns, and network and telecommunications specialists.