Maryland Industrial Partnerships:
Teaming University Expertise with
The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS), a University of Maryland program, has been supporting matching grants that team university research expertise with companies that need assistance in product or process development. MIPS is open to Maryland businesses - grants can range as high as $70,000 ($50,000 for start-up firms). Over the last decade, numbers of aquaculture-related projects have received funding - among them: AquaMar Industries, Inc., (Pocomoke City) worked with Dr. Fred Wheaton of the University of Maryland, College Park, on treatment of fish culture water; Biometrics (Boyds) collaborated with Dr. Renate Reimschuesssel, University of Maryland at Baltimore, on the Influence of water quality and system configuration; Igene Biotechnology, Inc., worked with Dr. Reginal Harrell, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, on a naturally colored salmon additive.
Here is an update on two MIPS-funded projects.
- HyRock Aquaculture Farm, Inc., first had a MIPS grant to employ oysters for clearing algae from fish ponds. Oyster growth was so successful that owner Tony Mazzaccaro recently signed a contract with the state to provide one million seed oysters for Chesapeake Bay restoration.
- New Earth Services composts crab shell waste from Eastern Shore crab processing plants for a high grade fertilizer - the process was developed under a MIPS grant. With the business turning a profit, company president Pat Condon has a current MIPS project to develop methods for extracting chitin, which has many high-end commercial applications, from crab shells before composting. (Editor's Note: For more about chitin and crab waste, see Maryland Sea Grant's Marine Notes newsletter, available from a Sea Grant specialist or on the world wide web: http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/MarineNotes).
MIPS accepts proposals twice a year - while the next deadline is May 1, 1998, now is the time to contact the MIPS office to find out how your business may qualify. Allow enough lead time for the process which involves being matched with a researcher and meeting with MIPS staff for preliminary review of your proposal. Call the Maryland Industrial Partnerships office in College Park at (301) 405-3891.
Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program
The aquaculture industry in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region is highly diversified - it includes operations that raise finfish and shellfish for consumption and restoration; finfish for fee fishing; ornamental fish for the aquarium trade; aquatic plants for water gardening, shoreline stabilization and environmental biofiltration. Maryland aquaculture has grown considerably during the past decade, some 10% a year according to Maryland Department of Agriculture. Still, most of these business are small and can rarely afford to finance research into new technology and techniques. Consequently, the Maryland Sea Grant Program has been serving a pivotal role in helping to disseminate information about scientific advances and new practices. To give Aquafarmer readers a snapshot of outreach efforts for 1998, Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialists discuss below major issues that they are engaged in.
New Prospects for Finfish Aquaculture
Reginal Harrell, Aquaculture and Biotechnology Specialist
For more than 15 years, the Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program has taken the lead in programs to introduce techniques and innovations in finfish aquaculture. In addition to seminars, workshops, demonstrations, and short courses, we have been producing a variety of educational materials - these include fact sheets, videos and, more recently, information that is available on the Internet. For instance, we have worked with the Aquatic Pathobiology Center of the University of Maryland School of Medicine on a Fish Health website that should be of great value to growers (http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/fish-health/index.html).
Through the 1980s, we conducted mostly introductory aquaculture programs - while new growers are still entering the industry and need basic information, others require more in depth details about rearing and husbandry techniques as well as new technologies that are coming on line or that may soon be available. These include information about genetics, controlling broodstock reproduction and spawning, enhancing growth, improving nutrition and improving disease diagnosis. In the long run, our program has several major goals, namely helping growers to maximize growth while minimizing costs; ensuring a quality product; and protecting the aquatic environment. Towards these ends we have identified high priority issues for research and outreach programs as we head into the next century; they include an emphasis on waste management, recirculating systems, genetic improvement, and new commercial species, including ornamentals.
The major cultured species in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region are striped bass and their hybrids and catfish. While the striper aquaculture industry has expanded tremendously since the 80s, there are limits to continued expansion that have to do with relatively high consumer prices, a consequence of production costs. We have been conducting research to identify superior strains of striped bass; these could form the basis for improvements in selective breeding efforts. We are also working with the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station on Striper 2000, a conference for June 1998 that will give growers an opportunity to discuss the latest research related to striped bass and their hybrids.
While most fish are raised in ponds, recirculating systems show increasing commercial promise. For example, one company in Maryland is producing one million pounds of tilapia in a closed production system. With prospects for more recirculating systems coming on line, we will be conducting programs and developing fact sheets for potential growers in the region. If recirculating systems can work cost-effectively, the ability to control such variables as salinity, temperature and other environmental factors promise opportunities for more exotic species that could be attractive in the marketplace.
Our newest initiative is in marine ornamental fish and shellfish: with an estimated $400 million wholesale value (1992) in the U.S. and $7 billion retail value globally, a majority of such species are taken from the wild. The potential damage to ecosytems from which many of these fish are taken could be immense. Harvesting, for example, often involves the use of poisons or explosives - these practices can result in high mortalities of catch and by-catch as well as in damage to coral reef superstructures. In addition, many reef organisms are sources of important compounds for pharmaceuticals, the loss of which can have human health and economic implications. For such reasons, I have taken an active role in helping to coordinate support for a National Sea Grant initiative in the culture of marine ornamental fishes and invertebrates. The long-range objectives are to ease harvest pressure on national stocks of reef organisms and to develop the economic potential of the marine ornamental industry.
Oysters and Hatcheries
Don Meritt, Shellfish Specialist
While Maryland has had a long history of leasing bottom grounds in the Chesapeake Bay for private oyster culture, social and political constraints have prevented the leased-bottom industry from developing to any significant extent. Maryland's oyster industry has largely depended on the harvest of natural sets from public grounds. The reliance on wild stocks, the problems of managing a common property resource and the spread of parasitic disease in the last decade to nearly every public oyster bar have exacerbated the decline of the public fishery and left it in almost complete collapse.
While the presence of disease, namely Dermo (Perkinsus marinus) and MSX, have not made private oyster culture an attractive investment, there are ways to farm oysters and manage around disease. This goes for leased grounds as well as public grounds. We have been working for some years to increase oyster productivity with hatchery-based technologies. Rearing oyster seed by "remote setting" is one such method - Maryland Sea Grant Extension has been a leader in adapting this technology from oyster growers the Pacific Northwest. With remote setting, oyster growers can purchase eyed oyster larvae from a hatchery and set them on shell in their own tanks; there they can be fed cultured algae until they are ready for planting. These techniques can be used in small or large-scale undertakings - we continue to run educational programs on these techniques and assist growers in overcoming problems when they switch from buying spat to the eyed larvae. Maryland Sea Grant has published a workbook on these methods in cooperation with the Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center, "Producing Oyster Seed by Remote Setting," (NRAC Bulletin No. 220). In 1998, a new video that we are completing will demonstrate these techniques in action.
While we work with growers of leased oyster grounds, we are also engaged in oyster restoration research as well as projects that are putting oysters back into rivers in the Bay system. We collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Oyster Recovery Partnership, a non-profit organization that is engaged in growing and planting activities throughout the Chesapeake. This past year, for example, we spawned more than 20 million oysters at the Horn Point Laboratory - while that is a major achievement for a modest hatchery such as ours, it is still only enough to plant some 20-30 acres of bottom ground. You'll get an idea of how far we have to go in our restoration efforts when you consider that Maryland has some 270,000 acres of public oyster grounds (though most no longer produce harvestable oysters). Still, we have been making important inroads: disease-free, hatchery-reared oysters are growing well.
With upgrades to our hatchery this year, we plan on doubling production of oyster spat that will be used for research purposes and for restoration projects and educational programs such as those that Jackie Takacs describes in "Oysters and Education."
Soft Crabs and Recirculating Systems
Don Webster, Eastern Shore Area Agent
Production of soft shell crabs continues to be one of the mainstays of Maryland's seafood industry. This specialized product, which is now marketed internationally, is cultivated by maintaining crabs in a protective structure so that they can be harvested as soon as they complete the molting process of backing out (or shedding) their shell and before the new, larger shell hardens. The earliest shedding operations employed floating boxes, called floats, that were placed in bay water with peelers (crabs ready to molt their shells) inside. Such floats are still used in some areas; though they are simple and inexpensive, they do not provide for control of water quality - consequently, crab mortalities can be very high. Crab floats can also be time consuming to work.
In innovations that followed, tanks were brought onto shore where they could be placed under a roof, and bay water pumped through them. Many shedders began to stack their tanks two and three high in order to gain greater production in the same space. While more efficient, these flow-through tanks still did not provide for good control over water quality, although the intake lines could be moved to different depths to try and tap into better water. Watermen found that in certain areas where water quality went bad, mortality of their crabs could run very high. There is a further disadvantage of such systems: they require the availability of expensive shore side property.
During the late 1970s watermen began to ask for assistance on shedding systems that would recirculate the water and give them more control over water quality, therefore minimizing crab mortalities. Such systems had the added attraction of not needing to be placed at the shore and could even be operated at home for ease of management and better security. Early systems were simple and effective, and they led to many innovations in water circulation, aeration, and biofiltration. Today, there are hundreds of recirculating crab shedding systems in Chesapeake Bay and interest has continued in their design, construction, and operation both here and in other states.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) has recently developed a new design for shedding crabs based on research by Steve Hughes for tilapia aquaculture; it has been successful in commercial demonstrations, and information on this system will be available during 1998. (You might also read "Banking on Blue Crabs: A Trial Run for Peelers" in the September-October 1997 issue of Maryland Marine Notes, Maryland Sea Grant's bi-monthly newsletter. Contact a Sea Grant specialist for a copy or read it on the web: http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/MarineNotes/).
The Sea Grant Extension Program (SGEP) has been teaching watermen how to set up and operate shedding systems for over a decade. We have a crab shedders workbook series that includes several facts, among them, Measuring Water Quality (UM-SG-MAP-88-03) and Water Quality in Soft Crab Shedding (UM-SG-MAP-88-01.) For 1998, we will be conducting four county-based programs during the late winter and early spring; more will be scheduled if there is interest in soft crab producing areas of the state. Contact a Sea Grant specialist and watch Maryland Aquafarmer for announcements of dates, times and locations.
Water Quality and Aquaculture
Dan Terlizzi, Water Quality Specialist
In water quality training programs for aquaculturists, whether for beginners or veterans, I emphasize that much water quality management is algae management. First, algae absorb fish waste products, e.g., ammonia which they use for growth, thus reducing potentially toxic free ammonia in the system; second, they release oxygen through the photosynthetic process, which supports respiration of fish and the microbial community responsible for waste processing. In addition, because algae are at the base of the food web of aquatic systems, they "fuel" the production of food organisms and in some cases may be food themselves. Too much of a good thing, however, can become a bad thing - and that is the case with excessive algae growth: it can lead to water quality problems, for instance, oxygen depletion and, thus, severe stress if not death to your fish.
Dinoflagellates and Other Harmful Algae. The most visible water quality concern in the Chesapeake region during 1997 was Pfiesteria piscicida and other small unidentified dinoflagellates associated with fish stress and mortality. Pfiesteria is not new to the region: scientists at the Horn Point Laboratory (HPL), part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, isolated Pfiesteria in 1992 from sediments in Jenkins Creek. While Pfiesteria was observed in 1996 in water from the Manokin River in aquaculture ponds that had a major fish kill, there was no clear linkage between Pfiesteria and the dead fish. Other algae species, e.g., Gyrodinium estuariale, may have been responsible. In response to the dinoflagellate problem in estuarine aquaculture ponds, Maryland Sea Grant awarded a program development grant to help support studies that Dr. Pat Glibert of HPL and I are doing on the dynamics of nutrients and phytoplankton. Results so far suggest that (1) several species of estuarine dinoflagellates lead to fish stress and mortality in the hypereutrophic conditions of aquaculture ponds and (2) harmful dinoflagellates appear to be correlated with the presence of organic nitrogen sources. These findings imply that we may have a means for predicting the onset of problems. We plan on conducting more intense sampling during the 1998 dinoflagellate season in order to develop a clearer understanding of the "triggers" that initiate these blooms and how we might control them.
Algae Eutrophication and Aquaculture. Eutrophication, the overenrichment of nutrients, has had serious consequences in the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Where blooms or bursts of growth of microscopic algae (called phytoplankton) are a normal part of the Bay's annual cycle of production, eutrophic conditions lead to higher densities of algae. They can also lead to changes in algal species composition; this is an important observation since we are learning that the type of algae - e.g., cyanobacteria, diatoms, dinoflagellates - can be as important as their quantity. Increased densities of phytoplankton and changes in phytoplankton composition can lead to fish mortality or human health impacts; they have also been linked to the decline of submerged aquatic plants in the bay because they block light from reaching those plants. Perhaps the most serious consequence of eutrophication and increased phytoplankton densities is the decreased availability of dissolved oxygen that can occur. Maryland Aquafarmer carried a series of articles in 1997 on the chemistry of water quality that will be adapted for a fact sheet this year.
Aquaculture development in the Chesapeake Bay, for instance, rearing fish in open waters, has been limited to a large extent by concern over the release of additional nutrients (i.e., in fish excreta); such practices are especially problematic at a time when the Chesapeake Bay Program's key goal is reducing nutrients 40 percent by the year 2000. Still, there are possibilities for absorbing nutrients released by fish, and Maryland DNR has issued limited permits for developing pilot finfish net pen systems in the Chesapeake that are designed to do so: these depend on macroalgae which are capable of taking up ammonia and nitrate simultaneously.
The aquaculture potential of the Chesapeake Bay system may never be realized unless nutrient removal strategies are developed in parallel with net-pen systems. Coupling the culture of macroalgae with net-pen culture of finfish may offer both an environmentally sound method of removing nutrient waste and providing economic benefits in the production of useful plant materials. Macroalgae are a major aquaculture product; for example, the annual value of the edible alga nori (Porphyra spp. used as sushi wrappers) alone exceeds $2 billion dollars; the U.S. nori market is $ 25 million annually with 12 -15 percent annual growth. The experimental stage of a project to compare nutrient uptake characteristics of macroalgae with the discharge patterns of net pen systems will begin in 1998.
Oysters and Education
Jackie Takacs, Southern Maryland Agent
What's the best crab shedding system? Why are my fish dying? Where can I get information on...? How do I do...?
Where do Marylanders go to get answers to questions they have concerning bay, coastal and marine issues? They call on the Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program. We are often the first point of contact for many citizens on issues dealing with finfish and shellfish culture, water quality, economics, seafood nutrition and technology. In addition to responding to such questions, we have been working with schools and other organizations to develop science and environmental education programs in which students learn by doing.
With the decline of Bay oysters in recent years, largely due to habitat loss and parasitic disease, Sea Grant Extension has taken a lead in hatchery production of disease-free seed at the Horn Point Laboratory, part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (see Don Meritt's article, "Oysters and Hatcheries"). We have been using oyster restoration efforts as a means for teaching children from kindergarten through high school about the ecological role of oysters in the Chesapeake and their historical importance in the social and economic development of the state. By focusing on the oyster, we also are helping children develop critical skills in math, science and history.
The Fall 1997 issue of Maryland Aquafarmer gives details about several of these programs (you can get to it on our website or request a copy from a Sea Grant specialist). They include the (1) Living Classrooms Foundation Oyster Program, which is part of an 18-day course for middle schools by the Living Classrooms, a non-profit organization that provides experiential programs and job training for young people; (2) Adopt-A-Bag Oyster Program which teaches young children about the importance of the oyster in the aquatic community and the expected benefits of restoration; and (3) Historical Ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, an environmental science program for selected St. Mary's and Calvert County high school students.
Over this next year, we will continue these programs while working with schools and public agencies to develop new ones. For instance, we have teamed up with the Patuxent Elementary School in a pilot program to grow young oysters in float systems. The second grade students will be measuring the growth of oysters as the seasons progress; they will do experiments on oyster feeding and will learn about the oyster's life cycle from start to finish. At the end of the project the oysters will be placed on an oyster bar for grow out. Our long-term aim is to extend this program to other schools in Southern Maryland.
Stewardship of our aquatic natural resources depends on knowledge - and knowledge about the complex environment that sustains these resources, including natural and human impacts, depends on education. Our outreach programs are designed to complement the kind of education that will make a difference in the understanding that children carry with them into the future.
Aquaculture in the High School
Adam Frederick, Education Specialist
Aquaculture education in Maryland high schools has been increasing in popularity over the last decade - it has especially attracted teachers because they can engage students in developing critical skills in a host of disciplines, among them, biology, math, engineering and writing. Moreover, both students and teachers can undertake realizable and practical goals, for instance, raising juvenile and adult fish species for restoration purposes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While aquaculture projects, curriculum and related activities are available in all the state's counties, many schools are lacking the expertise to get sizable recirculating systems into operation. A network of "aquaculture educators" could significantly improve the success of high school programs and extend their availability. Maryland Sea Grant College is working with Carroll County Public Schools to do just that: we are helping to organize an educators network by partnering with local school systems to expand model programs that already exist. An initial step toward this goal is Aquaculture in Action, a workshop that will host 12 high school teachers from different regions in Maryland.
Slated for July 6-11, 1998, this unique program will involve master teachers who have been using aquaculture successfully in the classroom. The methods and content for the workshop will be adapted from the model program at South Carroll High School, led by Maryland Teacher of the Year Bob Foor-Hogue. During their intensive six days, participating educators will learn the details they need for setting up aquaculture systems, from basic tank design and construction to aquaponics. In addition, they will be introduced to raise-and-release programs, wetland restoration and grant writing techniques that will help them seek funding support for school aquaculture programs.
The goal of teaching the teachers is that they will be better equipped to work with students who will themselves be designing, constructing and operating a freshwater aquarium system and then conducting research on the fish they raise.
Workshop participants, two from each of six regions in the state, will return to their schools with working aquaculture systems, systems based on the 300-gallon prototype at South Carroll High School. The systems will enable students and teachers to raise native fish species from egg, larvae or juveniles, into adult stages. The fish will eventually be released into freshwater tributaries to the Chesapeake. Once the project is completed, Maryland Sea Grant will add a special Aquaculture in Action section to its web site to facilitate communication among teachers and students. The web site will be equipped to allow connections to participating school web pages; it will also link participants by e-mail through a common list serve. The link will help teachers and students monitor and trouble shoot their projects throughout the school year and strengthen educational partnerships throughout Maryland. A frequently asked questions section will allow teachers and students to access answers to common questions pertaining to aquaculture, and teachers and students will be able to tap into the Maryland Sea Grant aquaculture resources for additional assistance. Our plans include a mini-retreat in the summer of 1999 to share project results and organize a second Aquaculture in Action for the summer of 2000. The participants from the 1998 workshop will serve as mentors for new participants in 2000.
Editor's Note: Jackie Takacs and Adam Frederick have been appointed to the Steering Committee for the Maryland Association of Biology Teachers. Maryland Sea Grant will be hosting the Association's semi-annual meeting in College Park.
The Economics of Aquaculture
Douglas Lipton, Marine Economic Specialist
Profitable industries grow, unprofitable ones do not. This axiom remains constant as we look into the future of aquaculture in the mid-Atlantic region. What changes from year to year on the production side is the cost of raising fish and, therefore, the market price - those changes may be influenced by many factors, among them, technology, feed costs, financing, regulatory requirements.
Continuing research on aquaculture technology and production systems should continue to lead to lower production costs. Of course an increase in input prices can offset any gains that technological improvements contribute to lowering costs. For example, an increase in feed prices can negate the effect of improved feeds and feed conversion rates. Thus, aquaculture growth will be greatly influenced by what occurs in grain markets and fishmeal production. Growth can sometimes be affected by conditions over which we have no control - the outbreak of Pfiesteria in a small subestuary of the Chesapeake Bay, for example, impacted the Bay's entire seafood industry. In cooperation with the Office of Seafood Marketing, we will be working to estimate the impact that the outbreak had on seafood sales in Maryland. A survey has been sent to seafood firms around the state and we will process the results in the coming months.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment in aquaculture is that growth in overall seafood demand in the United States is not occurring to the extent once expected. Ten years ago, U.S. per capita seafood consumption reached an all time high of 16.2 pounds per person - this was the culmination of five straight years of growth in consumption. At that time, the seafood industry and the National Marine Fisheries Service developed the "20 by 2000" slogan: per capita consumption would reach 20 pounds per person by the year 2000. In 1996, per capita consumption had fallen to 14.8 pounds per person. (See Gayle Mason-Jenkins' article, Educating the Seafood Consumer").
The remarkable thing about the growth of aquaculture in the United States is that it has occurred despite the lack of overwhelming market factors to carry it along. Entrepreneurs have been able to develop unique production and marketing situations that bring the enterprise into the realm of profitability. The development of the live market for tilapia is a prime example of aquaculturists finding and developing a unique niche for their product, which has resulted in higher prices. Although there is only a limited amount of production that can be absorbed by these niches, it will be the marketing and production innovators that will continue to fuel the growth of aquaculture in the coming year.
Educating the Seafood Consumer
Gayle Mason-Jenkins, Seafood Specialist
A paradox about seafood consumption is that while many Americans know that fish and shellfish contribute to a healthy diet, consumption has been leveling off. In 1991, the National Fish and Seafood Promotion Council published the Analysis of Consumer Perspectives on Fish and Seafood, the results of a nationwide survey. Among the reasons that consumers gave for not eating seafood were these: they thought it too difficult to cook, they might cook it improperly, they thought the cost too high, and they were concerned about mishandling fresh fish. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Seafood Hotline reported similar consumer concerns about handling, for instance, uncertainties about storing fresh fish properly. Apart from these concerns, many consumers do not distinguish between wild and cultured seafood products and have extrapolated a negative experience to all seafood, whether they have eaten harvested or farmed fish.
Poor consumer knowledge poses challenges for aquaculturists. In the recent Aquaculture Marketing Survey, funded by the Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center, Linda O'Dierno and I discuss the need for specific consumer education efforts about aquaculture products. Consumers who understand the potentially high quality of farm-raised products and how to preserve this quality for home use are likely to feel more comfortable in seeking cultured seafood. How do we reach consumers, when we have such limited resources for doing so? One way is by training family and consumer science educators, and other professionals who can then educate their clientele.
In-service training programs have been an effective means for Sea Grant Cooperative Extension and other groups for getting research-based information to consumers. This is why seafood specialists with Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory and Maryland Sea Grant and the Maryland Seafood Marketing Program have collaborated in a proposal for developing a self-supporting annual education program to enhance aquaculture product use by consumers. The objective is to provide training for home economics teachers, home economists, family and consumer science educators, nutritionists, and other food and health educators in the proper methods of handling, preparing, and marketing of aquaculture products. Food, health and nutrition professionals will in turn use this information to educate their audiences about the proper use of farmed fish and shellfish. It will take such targeted educational programming if we are to have any chance for success in reaching seafood consumers about the uniqueness of farmed products.
Aquaculture and Seafood Processing
Tom Rippen, Seafood Technology Specialist
As of December 18, 1997, the seafood industry began processing their products under a mandatory federal food safety program administered by the U.S. FDA and state health departments. Referred to as HACCP - Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points - its aim is to detect seafood problems in the plant before they occur in the marketplace. While aquaculture producers are exempt from the regulation as long as they only ship live or whole, iced fish, extended holding, cutting or further processing requires compliance with the regulation, as does buying from other suppliers for distribution. Most aquaculture and seafood businesses are small and lack the formal quality assurance departments commonly responsible for regulatory compliance programs at larger food processing plants. That is why the National Sea Grant Program has been directly involved nationally in training programs to assist the seafood industry in meeting the new regulations. Maryland Sea Grant Extension and other mid-Atlantic programs have taken an active role in HACCP programs.
In 1997 Maryland Sea Grant conducted six Alliance/AFDO courses, two ISSC HACCP courses for molluscan shellfish shippers, and two HACCP programs for softcrab producers. We coordinated these efforts with Sea Grant programs in Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina. We also, ran informal HACCP implementation workshops across the state for blue crab processors. This regional effort reinforces interaction nationally with the Seafood HACCP Alliance which develops standard training curricula, models and other supporting documentation for HACCP implementation. Maryland Sea Grant is producing a regional newsletter (HACCP Countdown) to assist approximately 1,200 small businesses with HACCP implementation and regulatory compliance. This publication addresses practical HACCP implementation topics through examples and frequently asked questions. It is published jointly by the Sea Grant programs at University of Maryland, North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech and will be distributed through early 1998 (it is also available on world wide web: http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Extension/HACCP/).
Maryland Sea Grant Extension will continue efforts initiated in 1995 to assist seafood processors. This includes performing audits to assess the effectiveness of HACCP programs developed by the industry with Sea Grant assistance; we will also expand Sea Grant response capabilities to emerging seafood safety issues through the Maryland Food Safety Committee. This involves coordinating with other state and federal agencies to offer a food safety forum for optimizing educational, regulatory and research efforts in the state.
In other food science related projects, we expect to participate in a national study to determine sensory and chemical profiles of swimming crabs. Species, location, season, water quality parameters, handling and processing methods are some of the factors to be investigated. This work is prompted by the current confusion in the marketplace created by an increased availability of numerous crab products including imports. Product improvement, market differentiation and laboratory procedures to identify species from cooked crabmeat samples are needs identified by industry.
Product development projects beginning this year include identifying procedures for producing smoked products from catfish. This effort is supported by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships, a state program which provides seed funds for industry working with university faculty. Traditional African smoked products will be developed for existing ethnic markets initially. The Maryland Department of Agriculture will assist with marketing. In a related project, Maryland Sea Grant Extension will team with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and industry leaders to identify products and necessary networking which will more fully utilize excess processing capacity in coastal seafood communities.
Algae Control with Barley Straw
Bryan Butler, Extension Educator
Carroll County Extension Office
Algal growth during the spring and summer in farm ponds, lakes and reservoirs can pose a number of problems: in ponds used for irrigation, for example, algae can clog pumps, block filters and cause odor problems; they can also be very unsightly. But algae can also bloom in winter - that is the case, for example, for the city of Cumberland reservoirs. In fact, some of the greatest challenges managers of reservoirs must face come in the cooler months.
Blooms of algae appear to be more severe in bodies of water that have high levels of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be associated with runoff from production fields. This is especially problematic where land is opened up by logging or development. Different species of algae can proliferate due to increased nutrient loading; and different species can cause taste and odor problems with the potable water supply which are difficult to deal with.
Watershed management is critical in protecting waters from landborne nutrients. Forests and riparian buffer strips take time to get to a size that will best protect the water. Thus, we need interim or alternative methods for controlling nutrients if shoreline protection cannot be reestablished.
Chemical methods have often been used, though the use of some chemicals may limit or restrict the use of water for irrigation. Chemical control can also remove the higher plants as well as the algae; once the herbicide breaks down, the algae often recolonize the water body, often quickly because there is no competition from higher plants. Thus, over time, the algae problem can get worse if such patterns continue.
Chlorination and filtration of water from reservoirs can take care of many algae species but some species can present unique problems. Anabena, for example, algae releases an oil that when chlorinated can cause major taste and odor problems in the potable water supply. Many bodies of water are managed for multiple use and therefore a great deal of consideration must be given before a method of algae control is selected. Some chemicals can be harmful to fish, while colorants are often less than aesthetically pleasing and can be quite expensive.
There is no uniform control for algae in a body of water - there are contingencies of size, use and location of the water. However, for a number of years, scientists in the United Kingdom have been examining the use of barley straw for controlling algae in a variety of fresh water systems. A number of scientific papers have supported its uses and the Center for Aquatic Plant Management is spearheading development. Though it has been recommended for use in ponds throughout the United States, there is as yet little scientific data to back up these recommendations.
When barley straw is applied to a pond, it generally takes six to eight weeks for the straw to become effective at water temperatures below 50°F. When the water temperatures are above 68°F, it only takes one to two weeks for the treatment to become effective. Once active the straw will remain effective for about six months. The chemical mechanisms are still unknown, though it appears to be through some type of phenolic compound that does not kill the algae but instead prevents growth of new algal cells, similar to a pre-emergent herbicide. The anti-algal activity is only produced when the straw is rotting in a well-oxygenated environment. The amount of straw required is based on the surface area of the pond. The volume of water seems to make no difference either in the performance of the straw.
As a rule of thumb 100-300 pounds of barley straw per acre of surface area will provide good activity against the algae. Higher rates have been shown to provide better algal control if the problem is severe; however, too much straw can deoxygenate the water. Once the water is cleared of algae, the lowest rates should provide adequate maintenance control. It is best if the straw is applied loosely so that water can move freely through. A cage similar to a crab trap would work nicely. Floats should be attached to the cage to keep it at the surface for maximum efficiency. It is also better to use multiple cages: the more contact surfaces that the barley straw extract can emanate from, the better the control.
As far as seasonal application, it would be best to apply the straw in the fall or early spring: this will give the straw a chance to rot and get ahead of the spring/summer algae blooms that cause most of the problems for irrigation ponds. To date, no negative side effects have been recorded. In fact, there have been observations of increased invertebrate populations and improvements of gill development in fish from ponds where barley straw is applied.
With regard to aquaculture systems, barley straw could be used to provide algae control: the steady control of algal growth with its use could help reduce problems with low dissolved oxygen. In addition, the control of blue-green algae that are the cause of off-flavors in fish could be a major benefit.
Data we are now collecting in Maryland will be shared in a collaborative effort with studies underway in Mississippi at the Stonesville Research and Extension Center. The hundred thousand acres of catfish ponds in Mississippi can have a severe problem with Oscillatoria spp. One of the cyanobacteria that causes the problems with off-flavor in catfish has been controlled with barley straw in the United Kingdom, so there appear to be promise for control in the U.S.
The cost and maintenance of barley straw practices should be minimal. So far, no negative side effects have been reported. In fact some of the British research indicates that fish grown in impoundments with the barley straw showed improved growth. Some important issues that may need to be considered are the source of the straw, the quality of the straw bales (length of the stalk), and the method of application.
Editor's Note: Bryan Butler is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Environmental Biology at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland; his thesis advisor is Dan Terlizzi, Water Quality Specialist with the Sea Grant Extension Program and an Adjunct Professor at Hood College.
Research Advances on Striped Bass and Its Hybrids
Current research efforts on striped bass and hybrid striped bass hold prospects for meeting the challenges for stepping up the industry's growth as we move into the 21st century. STRIPER 2000, sponsored by the Maryland Agriculture Experiment Station and the Maryland Sea Grant College, will provide a forum for researchers, producers, extension specialists and others to discuss state-of-the-art research in striper culture and to assess impediments to increased production and the means for removing them.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/striper2000.
Oyster Recovery Partnership
The Maryland Oyster Recovery Partnership, a co-venture of watermen, aquaculturists and environmentalists, dedicated to restoring Bay oyster populations needs a truck for its restoration work. The Partnership is looking for a tax-deductible donation of a two-ton truck with seven-ton boom. It will be used to load large volumes of shell into oyster setting tanks; after the larval oysters have set, they will be removed from the tanks and transported by truck to boats for transfer to nursery areas.
In 1997, the Oyster Recovery Partnership worked with the hatchery at the Horn Point Laboratory (of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science), the Department of Natural Resources, watermen and volunteers to help produce, handle and plant more than 20 million disease-free oyster spat. The Partnership's parent company is Chesapeake Appreciation, Inc., a 501(c) non-profit organization.
To learn more about the Oyster Recovery Partnership - how you can support it and/or volunteer - contact the office at 410-269-5570 or by mail, P.O. Box 6775, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
FishGuts: A Multimedia Guide to the Art and Science of Fish Anatomy, Health and Necropsy
A unique CD-ROM training program on fish anatomy and necropsy is now available from the Aquatic Pathobiology Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine. FishGuts should be of use to veterinarians, graduate and veterinary students, fish health managers, interns and natural resource technicians, says its developer Dr. Andrew Kane. "While it was designed to reduce the learning curve for doing first-time necropsies," Kane says, "FishGuts will also provide a good review of fish anatomy and specialized adaptations seen in fish."
Available for both Macintosh and Windows-based personal computers, the software is divided into five navigable sections. They include an animated narrative on how to use the program; fish anatomy; necropsy, the bulk of the program with over 50 QuickTime movies; a case history; and sample cases.
The cost is $185 US/Canada or $191 international; send a check, money order or purchase order to: Dr. Andrew Kane, Aquatic Pathobiology Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 10 South Pine Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1192. You can learn more by visiting the FishGuts Hompage: http://aquaticpath.umd.edu/fg_home.html or by contacting Andrew Kane on e-mail at: email@example.com
How do fish stay healthy? How do they get sick? If you check in to Maryland Sea Grant's Fish Health web site - a collaboration with Dr. Andrew Kane of the University of Maryland Aquatic Pathobiology Lab - you can get a primer on the factors that influence the health of fish populations, among them, the role of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses and the impact of environmental stresses, for example, pollution, water quality, trauma.
The web site also gives comprehensive coverage to the most current issues, reports, and web links related to Pfiesteria piscicida and Pfiesteria-like dinoflagellates that were implicated in fish kills this past summer.
Calendar of Aquaculture Educational Events
"25th Annual East Coast Commercial Fishermen's and Aquaculture Trade Expo," Convention Center, Ocean City, Maryland.
"World Aquaculture Society Annual Meeting," Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Milford Aquaculture Seminar," NOAA National Marine Service, Milford, Connecticut.
"Striper 2000: Technological Advances in the Culture of Striped Bass and its Hybrids," University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.
"Second International Conference on Commercial Recirculating Aquaculture," Virginia Tech, Roanoke, Virginia.
Please visit Upcoming Events for other meetings.
Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program
Phone Numbers And E-Mail Addresses
Agents and specialists of the University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program are available online through the following addresses: