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HomeNewsArchivesAQUACULTURE: HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT TOO

AQUACULTURE: HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT TOO

According to the Webster Dictionary, aquaculture is the combination of "aqua — water; a solution of a substance in water, and culture — production, development or
improvement of a particular plant, animal, etc."
According to the Aquaculture Program at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, it is a way for Virgin Islanders to feed themselves with quality fish and
produce.
UVI’s Dr. James Rakocy and his coworkers began with previous hydroponics and
aquaculture programs, then added some twists of their own. To date they have produced a system that can yield some 11,000 pounds of tilapia fish and from 1,000 to 2,000 cases of produce per year on a one-tenth acre, about 4,360 square feet, parcel of land.
According to one Virgin Islands chef, "tilapia is an excellent fish to work with. Its mild flavor allows for a great selection of sauces and should be very successful in the better food establishments."
As far as the produce is concerned, Rakocy has produced lettuce and other greens, tomatoes, string beans, bell peppers, Chinese cabbage, and herbs. The herbs include basil, chives, dill and mint.
There are three primary aqua systems for growing fish and produce, Rakocy explained. Cage culture is used to raise fish in fresh water ponds. Green water tank culture, named for the green algae in the water, yields quality green peppers and the Chinese vegetable pik choi in tanks of nutrients.
Aquaculture uses the nutrient-rich water from the fish culture to support vegetable growth, which filters out the nutrients allowing the water to continue to support fish
growth.
There are many reasons why the Virgin Islands community should adopt aquaculture, supporters of the farming method contend. One is the fragility of reef life. When a reef is over-fished, not only does the fish yield drop, but the entire reef environment changes.
In this scenario, fish for food are lost and the territory’s tourist industry loses an attraction responsible for drawing visitors and revenue for the economy.
Economically, farming fish strengthens the multiplier of capturing money that would have been sent off island to import fish. The economic multiplier argument is also a primary reason for raising produce.
A second argument is the quality of the produce. Fresh produce is usually preferred over that which has been picked green, shipped great distances, then gassed or otherwise treated to hasten ripening.
UVI has identified two major problems in establishing an aquaculture industry in the Virgin Islands. The first problem concerns parasites in the fish and disease in the produce. When cage-cultured Red Drum fish raised in fresh water ponds were transferred to salt water, they developed a parasite. This parasite disappeared when they were replaced in fresh water.
Three other fish were cultured with only one, the palometa, a local reef fish, still on the list of possible salt-water farm fish. tilapia is raised in recycled fresh water and does not have the parasite problem or the need for quantities of fresh water.
Papayas have been attacked by a unique virus, which kills the tree within a year. Papaya becomes an economic success when the tree lives three years or more. The aquaculture program has worked with some 45 different strains of papaya and has narrowed the field to 10 that show both an early yield and a tolerance to the virus.
The second problem is marketing. Over a decade ago, Hank Williams developed
a successful hydroponics program in Bolongo gut below Antilles School. He raised tomatoes, string beans, and cucumbers.
While residents of Bovoni and East End lined up to purchase these vegetables from a road side stand, Williams had a difficult time attracting the major buyers necessary to
utilize the full potential of his system. When health problems arose, Williams shut the system down.
Given the double yield of the aquaculture system (fish and produce) and the ability to develop the production capacity along with the developing market, the aquaculture industry is simply waiting for entrepreneurs wise enough to take advantage of this proven technology.
For information on the Aquaculture Program at UVI click here.

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According to the Webster Dictionary, aquaculture is the combination of "aqua -- water; a solution of a substance in water, and culture -- production, development or
improvement of a particular plant, animal, etc."
According to the Aquaculture Program at the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, it is a way for Virgin Islanders to feed themselves with quality fish and
produce.
UVI’s Dr. James Rakocy and his coworkers began with previous hydroponics and
aquaculture programs, then added some twists of their own. To date they have produced a system that can yield some 11,000 pounds of tilapia fish and from 1,000 to 2,000 cases of produce per year on a one-tenth acre, about 4,360 square feet, parcel of land.
According to one Virgin Islands chef, "tilapia is an excellent fish to work with. Its mild flavor allows for a great selection of sauces and should be very successful in the better food establishments."
As far as the produce is concerned, Rakocy has produced lettuce and other greens, tomatoes, string beans, bell peppers, Chinese cabbage, and herbs. The herbs include basil, chives, dill and mint.
There are three primary aqua systems for growing fish and produce, Rakocy explained. Cage culture is used to raise fish in fresh water ponds. Green water tank culture, named for the green algae in the water, yields quality green peppers and the Chinese vegetable pik choi in tanks of nutrients.
Aquaculture uses the nutrient-rich water from the fish culture to support vegetable growth, which filters out the nutrients allowing the water to continue to support fish
growth.
There are many reasons why the Virgin Islands community should adopt aquaculture, supporters of the farming method contend. One is the fragility of reef life. When a reef is over-fished, not only does the fish yield drop, but the entire reef environment changes.
In this scenario, fish for food are lost and the territory’s tourist industry loses an attraction responsible for drawing visitors and revenue for the economy.
Economically, farming fish strengthens the multiplier of capturing money that would have been sent off island to import fish. The economic multiplier argument is also a primary reason for raising produce.
A second argument is the quality of the produce. Fresh produce is usually preferred over that which has been picked green, shipped great distances, then gassed or otherwise treated to hasten ripening.
UVI has identified two major problems in establishing an aquaculture industry in the Virgin Islands. The first problem concerns parasites in the fish and disease in the produce. When cage-cultured Red Drum fish raised in fresh water ponds were transferred to salt water, they developed a parasite. This parasite disappeared when they were replaced in fresh water.
Three other fish were cultured with only one, the palometa, a local reef fish, still on the list of possible salt-water farm fish. tilapia is raised in recycled fresh water and does not have the parasite problem or the need for quantities of fresh water.
Papayas have been attacked by a unique virus, which kills the tree within a year. Papaya becomes an economic success when the tree lives three years or more. The aquaculture program has worked with some 45 different strains of papaya and has narrowed the field to 10 that show both an early yield and a tolerance to the virus.
The second problem is marketing. Over a decade ago, Hank Williams developed
a successful hydroponics program in Bolongo gut below Antilles School. He raised tomatoes, string beans, and cucumbers.
While residents of Bovoni and East End lined up to purchase these vegetables from a road side stand, Williams had a difficult time attracting the major buyers necessary to
utilize the full potential of his system. When health problems arose, Williams shut the system down.
Given the double yield of the aquaculture system (fish and produce) and the ability to develop the production capacity along with the developing market, the aquaculture industry is simply waiting for entrepreneurs wise enough to take advantage of this proven technology.
For information on the Aquaculture Program at UVI click here.