A new aquatic resource centre from Auburn University arises big expectations in the catfish sector. (Photo: Auburn University/FIS)
New aquatic resource centre opens, bodes well for catfish producers
Friday, September 16, 2011, 01:00 (GMT + 9)
A new aquatic research facility from Auburn University, equipped with pioneering technology and demanding a USD 9 million investment will help domestic catfish producers to become more competitive.
The new Centre for Aquatic Resource Management was funded primarily by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is located at 5 mi north of the university campus and boasts an administration building with more than 20,000 sqft and a 17,000-plus-sqft laboratory edifice.
"Alabama and the world face tremendous agricultural challenges in the growing demand for food, fuel and fiber globally, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and College of Agriculture (AAES) at Auburn are responsible for helping meet those challenges," said Bill Batchelor, AAES director and College of Agriculture dean. "This new aquatic resource management centre has been designed to have real-world impact by not only strengthening our fisheries and aquaculture research programmes but also by expanding our students' learning experiences."
Dallas County catfish producer and President of Catfish Farmers of America (CFA) Butch Wilson is optimistic. He was one among several Alabama catfish producers who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony last week, Alfa Farmers News reports.
“This centre is going to bring some of the technology to the fish farm here at Auburn that has been lacking,” Wilson said. “We need to accelerate the improvement process, and I think this will help."
Auburn Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture Extension Specialist Jesse Chappell said the national catfish industry is up against intensifying international competition, and the new labs will spawn research that will grant domestic catfish producers the edge they need to succeed globally.
“Unlike 30 years ago when the industry began, our growers are now faced with very skilled international competitors," Chappell said. "Before, we were ill-equipped to compete internationally. Now, with the development of this facility we will be able to meet that competition head on—and win.”
The administrative building includes a teaching lab, a hatchery, a 6,354-sqft holding area for sorting, weighing and counting fish for research projects and a new market for sales to the public. It also features the first-ever classrooms at the Shell complex and a visitor-friendly reception area that will host educational kiosks and displays ranging such as aquariums filled with live fish and historic information about Auburn's world-class fisheries and allied aquaculture programme.
The centre has been certified as a "green" facility under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, international rating system.
By Natalia Real