UMass Extension Aquaculture program

Aquaculture Projects

Aquaculture Education at UMass

NRC597SA is a senior level course exploring aquaculture's recent rise, successes and failures within the sector, and what is and can be done to ensure fish production becomes a sustainable part of 21st century food production. The course is geared towards students in fisheries, environmental, policy, and agricultural disciplines desiring an overarching perspective on global aquaculture development.

NRC597SA is a senior level online course offered online through the Sustainable Food and Farming program and the Continuing and Professional Education program at UMass. The course explores concepts in sustainable aquaculture such as species and system selection in a manner accepting the limitations placed on small-scale fish producers in Massachusetts and New England. In line with these limitations, the course focuses heavily on land-based recirculating aquaculture systems and their potential for use within the region's aquaculture industry.

Description coming soon.

Aquaculture Education Overseas

Although Uganda was once a center of wild fisheries export, things have changed and the country's wild fisheries are nearly deplete. However, with some of the largest tropical freshwater resources in the world, an excellent climate for agriculture, and native fish species amenable to farming like the tilapia, Uganda has enormous potential for aquaculture. A major bottleneck to enhancing the local aquaculture industry is education. UMass aquaculture is contributing to Ugandan aquaculture through the development of regionally relevant educational programs and technologies.

In 2013, a group of Ugandan entrepreneurship students with an interest in aquaculture visited regionally relevant sites in their own country with Dr. James Webb. Students had an opportunity to visit fisheries landing sites and talk to fisherman whose lives have changed on account of depleted wild stocks. They also visited farms from smallholder to commercial size, the National Aquaculture Center at Kajansi, Uganda’s only aquarium retail shop, a fish processing and export center, and the Bujugali dam site.

Media plays an enormous role in today’s society. It has played an immense role in shaping people’s perceptions of aquaculture. Students in NRC597SA learn about the power of media by addressing a specific need within aquaculture – the development of instructional video content for small-scale practitioners. A plethora of high quality instructional content already exists in the form of technical manuals produced by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Description coming soon.

Technology and Innovation in Aquaculture

Aquaculture is rapidly developing throughout the world. Although progress has been slow in some areas, aquaculture is now an apparent part of modern food production systems. To support the growth of aquaculture in underserved areas the Fish-for-All (FFA) concept was developed. The concept relies on an innovative and appropriate recirculating aquaculture system, coupled with plans for deployment, dissemination, and technology transfer.

UMass Aquaculture in collaboration with Researchers from the Building Construction and Technology program have been exploring concepts in Building integrated aquaculture (BIAq). BIAq involves taking advantage of the interdependencies between small-scale indoor recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and the built environment to maximize energy efficiency and optimize operations. In a BIAq approach, gained efficiencies have the potential to offset the energy intensity of recirculating aquaculture and ultimately make local-scale aquaculture more viable.

Advances in the hydraulics and software systems were made on RASTA (Recirculating Aquaculture System Technology Assessment), an innovative platform for assessing the efficiency of aquaculture system operation known as RASTA (Recirculating Aquaculture System Technology Assessment). RASTA combines the results of a questionnaire, site survey, and monitoring platform assessment to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the ecological and economic sustainability of aquaculture production.

Aquaculture is an applied science. It is important for universities to maintain collaborative working agreements with the industries they serve. UMass aquaculture is active within the State’s small but growing commercial aquaculture sector. An area of particular interest concerns the role Massachusetts could play as a technology and education hub for global aquaculture.

Global Aquaculture and Fisheries Updates

Description coming soon.

Description coming soon.

Description coming soon.

Description coming soon.

Description coming soon.

Past Projects

The UMass aquaculture system is being monitored and maintained by UMass students.Tilapia are being raised currently, and the plants being grown are a variety of edible leafy garden plants. The type of fish and plants that are part of the system are subject to change depending on student goals and interests.

Currently, one quarter of the fish consumed by humans come from aquaculture, and this share is increasing.  However, aquaculture depends on ocean caught fish as a protein source in fish feed. As the demand for farm-raised fish increases, so does the demand for wild caught fish for aquaculture feeds. It is estimated that 13 mmt of aquaculture fish feed is produced each year. The major component of aquaculture fish feed is fish meal (10% or 1.3mmt), which is obtained from wild harvest fish.

Various recirculating aquaculture and aquaponics systems are maintained at UMass Amherst as demonstrations and as learning tools for UMass student interns. Systems characteristics and plant and fish species change with student interests. Typically, two students per semester participate in the customization and operation of the systems.

Many farm ponds in Massachusetts can be used to grow trout in cage culture. Trout can be marketed to local restaurants, game clubs, used for fee fishing ponds, or for stocking local fishing derbies. Fish cages are simple to build, require limited maintenance and provide an introduction to the possibilities of fish farming.

The Aquaculture Team provides technical support to the aquaculture programs at Massachusetts vocational school

The UMass Extension Aquaculture Team, with the cooperation of industry experts throughout the Commonwealth has compiled a handbook describing best management practices for aquaculture.

The Viability of Farm Pond Aquaculture - Paul Catanzaro of Chesterfield MA received a grant to explore cage culture. Here is what he learned.