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Aquaculture farming increasing

By Staff
Attempt made to diversify
By CLAUD HODGES, Senior Reporter
Aquaculture is on the rise in the local rural areas in an attempt by farmers to diversify and replace crops that were once more in demand.
If not already in operation, many interests in these aquacultural farms are being mulled over in farmers’ minds in Beaufort, Martin, Washington and Hyde counties.
Anyone with an interest in fish or shellfish farming, including prospective growers, researchers, teachers, students or agency persons with jobs related to aquaculture are asked to come to the N.C. Aquaculture Development Conference from Jan. 18-19.
The conference is sponsored by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and will be held at the Sheraton Atlantic Beach.
There is a tour and hands-on lab scheduled for Jan. 17, the day before the conference.
Registration for this conference can be handled online at www.ncaquaculture.org. Information on this conference can be obtained by telephone at (252)633-1477.
Many suggestions to farmers considering aquaculture will include niche marketing of the products, sustainability of the products and start-up strategies for those who become interested.
If attendees take part in the Jan. 17 self-guided farm tours, they will visit three fish farms and a research facility. All farms are in close proximity to the conference site. Farm managers and/or extension aquaculture agents will be on hand at all stops to answer questions.
Included is a tour of the North Carolina State University Seafood Laboratory and a hands-on lab that will provide an attendee with the tools to examine, handle and evaluate fish for market. The attendee will leave knowing how to sense when fish are on- or off-flavor.
On Jan. 18, the conference will begin with coverage of a state, national and international overview of aquaculture. Other topics included will be opportunities for a sustainable east coast shellfish industry, the significance of sustainable aquaculture to industry and the marketplace, consumer expectations of what this means to producers, possibilities in offshore aquaculture and the current status for testing and interstate transport of fish.
On Jan. 19, the conference will have concurrent workshops on catfish, hybrid striped bass, crawfish and freshwater prawn production.
Other sessions on Jan. 19 include comparing oyster growing methods, crop insurance for shellfish growers, World Wildlife Federation vision for sustainable shellfish certification standards and proposed organic standards for shellfish aquaculture.
The conference will finish with the N.C. Shellfish Growers Association and the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association taking part in a joint meeting.