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

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Title: How research is fueling the RAS boom

Author
item Summerfelt, Stevent - Freshwater Institute

Submitted to: IntraFish
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/16/2018
Publication Date: 3/21/2018
Citation: Summerfelt, S.T. 2018. How research is fueling the RAS boom. IntraFish. http://www.intrafish.com/aquaculture/1454623/how-research-is-fueling-the-ras-boom.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute has been researching water recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technologies and practices for salmonids for nearly 30 years using strong funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. These early efforts to pioneer RAS technologies began decades before most trout and salmon farmers were even aware that RAS could help them overcome the barriers that were facing domestic aquaculture, including competition for limited water resources, strict regulations on pollution discharge, fish health issues encountered in open production environments, and challenges with permitting coastal sites. Now, at an ever-accelerating pace, fish farmers are realizing that RAS can be used to increase domestic fish production while conserving our water resources, improving conditions within the fish production environment, and reclaiming nutrients that are typically wasted in other types of aquaculture finfish production systems. To help make this happen, engineers, veterinarians and scientists at the Freshwater Institute have prioritized transferring our technologies, expertise and practices to fish farmers and public fish culture facilities. More than just publications and presentations at scientific venues, these efforts to directly interact with fish farmers and industry suppliers and consultants have helped to transform RAS in North America from a concept facing critical biological, technical and economic challenges, into a production model that many fish culture facilities, including commercial businesses, have now used to produce high-value crops next to major U.S. markets. One of the best examples of our technology transfer capabilities is the comprehensive support we provided to Superior Fresh LLC in Hixton, WI, which is the first commercial land-based Atlantic salmon farm in the U.S. and one of the largest aquaponic production systems in the world. By integrating RAS technologies with greenhouse hydroponic production at Superior Fresh, every ton of feed fed produces almost one ton of trout and Atlantic salmon, but also approximately 10 MT of salad greens. To transfer technology on such a grand scale was a worthwhile goal, but one that would take time (6 years) and require a tremendous effort by all parties. This article summarizes this technology transfer effort.