WPT University Place: Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility
Articles Blog

WPT University Place: Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility

September 11, 2019

– Welcome everyone.
My name’s Ian Meeker. I work with the University
of Wisconsin Extension as the 4H Youth Development
Educator for Bayfield County and it’s my pleasure to
introduce to you Greg Fischer. Greg lives in the town of
Washburn just north of here and he is the
Facilities Manager for the University of
Wisconsin Stevens Point’s Aquaculture
Demonstration Facility. And he’s going to tell you
all the current research that they’re doing
up at that facility and how it impacts aquaculture across the state and
across the country and even across the world. So, Greg, come on up. (applause) – Thanks, Ian. So I was
asked to come here tonight to talk a little bit about
aquaculture and also explain about the Northern Aquaculture
Demonstration Facility. So with that, I’m going
to move forward here. So what is aquaculture
and aquaponics? By definition, aquaculture is
the rearing of aquatic animals fish and crustaceans under
controlled conditions in various systems like
ponds or indoor tanks. Sometimes aquaculture
is called fish farming. You may have heard
that out and about when you’re talking to people
and somebody talks about a fish farm or fish
farming or fish hatchery. Aquaponics is the rearing of fish and plants together
in a closed system. That’s kind of a very old system that’s been practiced
for many, many years. It goes all the way back to
early Egypt and the Chinese but recently we’ve seen a
resurgence in aquaponics. So what does
aquaculture mean to us and how does it affect us? A lot of you in the audience
are probably thinking that aquaculture
doesn’t affect me. How many of you go fishing? Quite a few of you. Do any of you use fresh
bait or live bait? Some of you. So
that’s aquaculture. In Wisconsin, the
bait that’s reared that is sold at the bait
shops is reared and certified. In fact that’s why bait
costs quite a bit more now than it used to. I don’t know if you guys
remember, you probably do, you used to be able to get about a dozen
minnows for a buck. How much are a
dozen minnows now? They’re about seven to eight
dollars for a dozen minnows. It’s because of
that certification and the process
involved with rearing. How about aquariums? If you have goldfish or
fish in your aquariums, those often times can
come from aquaculture. There’s a huge goldfish
farm in Pennsylvania that raises goldfish, they
ship around the world. They ship them to China, they ship them to
other places in Europe. A lot of it is
the fancy goldfish and they spend millions
and millions of dollars shipping those
and selling those. People spend millions
and millions of dollars for those goldfish. Sport fish is another
aquaculture use that we see. We have sport fish that
are stocked into our lakes and rivers by Natural
Resource agencies and we go out and fish for
those and hopefully catch them. If not, it’s just called
fishing not catching, right? The last one is my favorite.
That’s fresh fish to eat. The one in the picture
there is not for eating. That’s a bait fish. I like the fresh
fish to eat the most and aquaculture is
really a great place to get fresh fish to
eat on a regular basis. This is a nice picture,
a little dark here for you guys to see,
but that’s a lake trout. That’s out in the
Apostle Islands, just a little short
drive north of here. And that’s a nice lake trout
that we caught out fishing. That young man is from
Japan, he never fished before in his life and so
he’s pretty excited. I think he’s more excited about
taking it home and eating it than he was about catching it. Aquaculture, it
happens every day. That’s kind of my take
home message tonight is that you are affected by
aquaculture all the time. How many of you happen to have
a fish pond or a pond at home that you would like
to have fish in? At least one. I know that. And this is a good
example of a fishing pond. This young lady from Germany
who never fished before caught that largemouth bass out of a small fishing
pond and she loved it. This is one of my
favorites, of course. Not only is this my youngest
daughter but she gives us an A-plus for a consumer
taste test on walleye that have been reared in our
fish hatchery and fried up on a Friday night for a
Friday night fish fry. I’m sure everybody
sitting here can remember the Friday night fish fry
and hopefully enjoy it tomorrow night, which
is Friday night. A couple facts that I’d
like to share with you, currently more than 90% of
the seafood eaten by Americans is imported from
other countries. That’s astounding when
I think about that. We’re importing all this
seafood especially in Wisconsin where we’re surrounded by
water and right here we have Lake Superior out the back
door, that just blows me away. Fewer fossil fuels are
used to bring local fish to your table whether they’re
wild caught or farmed, so that’s very important
to think about that. The other thing is by
purchasing local fish from Wisconsin farmers and Great
Lakes commercial fishermen, you also are keeping your
food dollars close to home and you’re supporting
local family businesses. That’s huge and I
think that’s something that we need to
think about whenever we go out and purchase
fish or seafood. If you can get it locally
it’s going to be better. It’s better for you.
It’s also fresh. It’s going to taste better
and that’s really important. Approximately half of
the seafood worldwide is raised on farms and this is
because a lot of the harvest in the capture fisheries has
peaked globally and I’m going to talk a little bit more
about that in a minute. But because of this,
aquaculture is being recognized as a valuable and
important way to raise fish and seafood for us to eat. Aquaculture is the
fastest growing form of food production in the world. It’s the fastest growing
agricultural program in the world and it ranks
number one in the midwest. Excuse me, Wisconsin ranks
number one in the midwest. So if we look at this
on a global perspective and we look at the
capture production which is shown in the
lower part of this graph compared to
aquaculture production and it’s a little darker on
the upper part of the graph. Aquaculture production is
overtaking capture production and we’re seeing
that more and more. As you can notice, the
capture production has kind of leveled off if I can get
my little curser to work. Capture production has
leveled off and even decreased in some locales due to
a variety of reasons, but aquaculture
production is increasing. If we look at the world’s
population and how… The population is
increasing all the time and our food supply
is increasing it’s very important to think
about where are we going to get this added protein for our
diets, this added fish. Fish is really becoming
a sought after resource and the capture fisheries
just can’t keep up with that. If you think about it and
if we look at this graph a little bit, if we look back
into the 1950s and the 1960s, a lot of stocks that were
under exploited down in here, as we have moved
forward over time, they’ve become
exploited, over exploited and some of them have
even crashed now. So now that we’re into
the 2015 this number here, 32% of stocks had
collapsed as of 2003. That’s probably higher now. So the world’s capture
fishery has been exploited. It is starting to crash. We’re seeing that
happening worldwide, so we’ve got to find a
source for that protein and a source for those fish to
feed the growing population. So aquaculture really
is starting to shine. Aquaculture output
is expected to rise over 33% in the next decade
and it’s going to help meet a demand for healthy
fish and healthy food as some of the fishing, the
capture fishing, is stagnating. If we look over at
this little thing here, farm fish to exceed wild fish in human consumption
by the year 2018. I actually think we
have exceeded that. I thought I saw something
in the news recently that said we’ve either
exceeded or we’ve at least matched it so we’re
ahead of the curve right now. And this one here
really scares me. Tainted seafood
reaching the U.S. Some of these are
blurbs and things taken off of the paper or
off of television but tainted seafood
reaching the U.S., that’s becoming more
and more of a problem. I don’t know if any of you
saw there was a big special, I’m trying to think what TV
station or what, who carried it, but it was about
mislabeling of fish and they found that very high
numbers like 70 or 80% of the fish are mislabeled that
we eat at restaurants and that we eat out, when we’re out
eating fish at different places. And what’s happening
is that fish are being captured overseas or in
other locales, they’re cheap, they’re shipped over here,
they’re being sold cheaply so the restaurants
are buying them and instead of offering you
walleye for $19 a pound, they’re offering you walleye
for $7.99 all you can eat. And if you can get walleye
for $7.99 all you can eat, it’s not walleye. It’s
probably something from Europe like a zander or
a European walleye and it doesn’t taste
the same as our walleye and it’s not farmed the same
and it’s not captured the same, doesn’t have the same attributes that our walleye would have. So just buyer beware,
I guess is the saying. If we look at some of this, how it’s affecting our food
choices and what’s happening, there’s a lot of
awareness in food now. People are starting to
be more concerned about what they’re eating and
where they’re eating. I don’t ever remember
when I was younger my parents asking a
waitress, you know, well, “Where did that
cow come from?” or “Where did that
lettuce come from?” or “Where did that fish come from?” But now we’re starting
to see things like this. We have the Monterey Bay
Aquarium Seafood Watch and if you notice here
they have as best choices, they have arctic char
farmed. Hmm, interesting. Bass, striped, farmed.
Hmm. If you go down a little bit they’ve got rainbow
trout, farmed. So under their best choices
they have a lot of farmed fish. They also have, for you
folks that are looking for something to eat,
Lake Superior whitefish, which is a capture fishery
out here. It’s local, right? And so the farm raised fish
and the local fish are doing very well on the Monterey Bay
Aquaculture Seafood Watch. I think the take home
message from this slide is, again, to be aware of what
you’re eating and think about what
you’re eating and think about the fish
where it’s coming from. So, I’ve had a
lot of discussions with people about aquaculture. I’ve had people tell
me aquaculture is bad. It pollutes the environment. It releases animals that don’t
belong into the environment. It causes pollution. A lot of issues with
aquaculture, they’d say, so they don’t
support aquaculture. I’m not eating a
farm raised fish. Tastes like liver, that’s
what I hear a lot of. Tastes like other things. So I have a couple
things for those people. Usually I invite them up and
have a fish fry and I say, “So tell me which
fish is farm raised and which one is wild caught”? And most of the time I can
trick them so they can’t tell. Our farm raised
fish is wonderful. I’ve eaten wild caught
fish for a long time and the farm raised
fish we raise, if it’s taken care of
correctly, is wonderful. The other thing is that a
lot of these horror stories we hear about are related
to net pen culture usually on the East coast
or maybe the West coast. And we’re pretty far away
from that here in the Midwest so we are kind of, we don’t hear all
of the stories, we
don’t hear everything. We just hear little bits
and pieces on the news like net pen falls
apart due to heavy waves and fish are
released all over and the officials are upset
because of this or something. You don’t hear the whole story. But you know, one of the
cool things is there is no net pen fish farming
in Wisconsin. We don’t have it. I don’t see it coming to
Wisconsin any time soon. It’s just not on the docket.
It’s not being discussed. The fish in Wisconsin
are raised in four ways. We have flow-through
water going through something called like a
raceway or an outdoor pond where there’s lots of
water flowing though and you’d have fish
like rainbow trout or brook trout
maybe in that water. This is really common if you
go up to any of our hatcheries, our state hatcheries, federal
hatcheries, tribal hatcheries. A lot of them have
flow-through tanks and the water’s rushing through. It’s a single pass
usage. It’s really clean. This picture here
that’s on the slide is a picture of Rushing
Waters Trout Farm down in Palmyra, Wisconsin. It’s the largest trout farm
in Wisconsin and he uses flow-through technology
to take care of his fish. You can kind of see the
water coming out right there. He’s got aerators in
his pond and he’s got a bunch of kids fishing, so
it’s a really nice location. The other way that some
of the places raise fish is using ponds which they
are treating more like a seasonal pond so it’s filled
up maybe with rain water, maybe some well water. They’re raising fish
like yellow perch, blue gills or walleyes. And that’s how a lot of the
walleyes are raised in Wisconsin for the stocking programs
so if you’ve heard of the Governor’s Walleye
Initiative, and these people raising walleyes to
stock more walleyes so there’s more
walleyes to catch, that’s how they’re
raising them is in ponds. The third one is recirculation
and recirculation is higher technology
and it’s not new but it’s newer to Wisconsin. And probably in the last
ten or fifteen years we’ve been seeing more and
more interest in recirculation and this is where you’re
reusing a lot of the water. It’s an indoor facility
so everything is inside under a building and you’re limiting
predation on the fish, you’re controlling
where the fish are at so there’s no chance
of escapement or any
issues with that. And you might see fish like
arctic char or yellow perch or tilapia in a recirculation
system, among others. We’ve even been
raising walleyes in our recirculation system
quite successfully. So recirc is really cool because you’re reusing a
lot of that water. And the last one I just want
to point out is aquaponics. So aquaponics is
indoors and it’s mixing the plants and the
fish together and you may have seen this or you may have
read about it somewhere. Aquaponics is really cool and it’s really taking off in
a lot of different areas. You read about it, there’s
a lot of different things related to aquaponics
going on right now. And you typically would
see fish like yellow perch or maybe tilapia in
an aquaponics setting. So those four methods
kind of outline what’s happening in Wisconsin. I did want to just point
out, though, like any other type of farming, aquaculture
can affect the environment if it’s done improperly. I would like to say that most
of the Wisconsin fish farmers that we deal with, especially
the successful ones, are really worried
about their fish farms and they’re really worried
about the water that leaves their farms that’s going
into the environment because they live there
and they raise kids there. Their kids are swimming in the
ponds with, not with the fish but maybe right next to the fish so they are concerned about
that just like we are. And I honestly can’t say
I’ve run into a fish farmer that has a polluted source coming out of his
facility in Wisconsin. The other thing is that,
just to keep them honest, Wisconsin fish farms are
regulated by both state and federal agencies so if they
don’t do this on their own, they’re going to be
forced to anyways. So there’s a lot of regulations
involved with fish farming. You have to be certified. You are inspected
and things like that by different agencies. An interesting fact is
that the U.S. government cannot regulate the
environmental impacts of international fish farms. When you look at it that way,
well, yeah, of course, right? The U.S. government can’t
tell other places how to deal with their farms,
but we’re buying fish from those fish farms so we’re
sustaining those businesses. So if you go to WalMart tonight and you buy tilapia
that’s 99 cents a pound that’s a product
of somewhere else, good luck with eating that
fish tonight. (laughs) The take home message again
is know what you are buying and know what you’re
eating because those fish farms that are
located in other areas potentially may not be
regulated like a U.S. fish farm. I want to thank Kathy Kline
from Wisconsin Sea Grant for a lot of this
aquaculture facts and info. She was very helpful and they
have a lot of great stuff on their web page if you
go to Wisconsin Sea Grant and you can find a lot of
helpful information there. I’m going to switch
gears a little bit and I’d like to talk a little bit
more in detail with something that I actually know
quite a bit more about than world aquaculture. This is about the University
of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture
Demonstration Facility. That’s a long title
and so we abbreviate it UWSP NADF, N-A-D-F so if you hear somebody talk
about NADF or if you hear me talk about it, that’s
what I’m talking about. It’s a state of
the art facility. This is a conceptual
drawing when it was built about 12 or 13 years
ago and we have various components onsite to
do education and demonstration. We’re located in Red Cliff,
Wisconsin, just a short drive up the shoreline right along
beautiful Lake Superior, which is the greatest
of all the Great Lakes. And we’re about one and
a half miles past the Legendary Waters
Resort and Casino. And if you come by,
you guys can come for a tour any time you like. We’re open seven days a week. So when the facility
was constructed it was to promote and
advance the development of commercial aquaculture
in a northern climate. That was part of the mission,
that’s not the whole mission. There’s quite a bit more
that goes on up there, but that’s one thing that
we were very interested in. In Wisconsin that’s
really important because there’s over 2,500
registered fish farms. There’s one sitting in
the audience, right? And so to be a fish
farm in Wisconsin, I mean you could just have
a pond with some fish in it but you’re supposed
to be registered. Or you could have a whole
blown up facility that employs 20 people or 40 people
and you’re processing fish and selling fish and so
there’s a whole wide range. And a lot of our fish
farms are located down here in the southern
part of the state and near epicenters
of people, right? Because if you’re raising
fish, you’ve got to be able to sell your fish if you’re
going to make a living. So Palmyra, as I
mentioned, Rushing Waters is down in this area kind of
between Madison and Milwaukee. There’s other fish farms located all around
the state, right? And we’re up here,
way up in the north. We don’t have a lot of fish
farms by us but I think they figured that if we could
raise fish this far north, and we could demonstrate
technologies, then we could do it anywhere
if we could do it up there. I guess, that’s what
I keep telling myself. Who else has Alice
in Dairyland that, it’s Alice in Fishland
for us and she came up to our facility
and that’s pretty cool. Even she came all
the way up to see us. What is NADF promoting or what are we talking
about with aquaculture? What we’re trying
to do is promote sustainable land based
closed containment recirculating
aquaculture systems. So, that’s kind of a mouthful
and what does that mean? I’m going to talk a
little bit more about recirculating systems
but we want to promote sustainable systems that aren’t
affecting the environment in negative ways and that
are going to stay in business for more than one or two years. This is really important. We’ve had a lot of aquaculture
opportunities pop up in Wisconsin and we’ve
had a lot of them slip through our fingers
so we’re trying to build successful businesses
that are going to be in business and stay
here and hire people and provide good quality
fish or seafood locally so that
we can eat those. The other thing that we would
like to see is that these recirculating systems and these
closed containment systems provide separation from wild
populations which guarantee no transmission of disease, parasites, inbreeding
or competition. So that’s a big issue
with aquaculture like the net pen aquaculture. That’s what
everybody’s afraid of. So by doing this on land,
we can get away from that and we can control those things from not causing problems
to our wild populations. The other cool thing is that
these systems are promoted and endorsed by many
environmental agencies including the Conservation
Fund, the Fresh Water Institute, the Atlantic Salmon Federation,
Tides Canada, I know there’s others involved too and others
that are supporting this. And I think you’ll
see more and more over the next few years. But to support that
mission and to support kind of what we’re
promoting, the facility, which is right here, houses indoor recirculation
systems so like I mentioned they have, we have
these tank systems. We have outdoor ponds as well to show people how to raise
fish in outdoor ponds cuz that is very
common in Wisconsin. And we have a bunch
of school kids here that just put up a
nice wetlands sign. We actually created a
wetland back here to deal with our effluent
in a natural way. Recirculating aquaculture, so
I’m not going to go into the three day course on
recirculating aquaculture, it’s pretty technical. There’s a lot of cool
things like bio filters and oxygen generators
and oxygen injection and stuff like that
involved but basically it’s recirculating water
through these tanks that would hold a variety of
fish, maybe fish like these Atlantic salmon or rainbow trout or arctic char,
things like that. The water is recirculated around through some different
components like a bio filter and a drum filter which
are removing solids and removing the ammonia
that the fish are excreting into the water and converting
it so that the water can then be reused by the fish. They’re pretty
efficient systems. We’re looking at probably
a 95% recirculation rate of the water so what that means
is a facility that typically would need maybe 1000
gallons of water to operate can operate on a couple of
hundred gallons of water. It really dramatically decreases the amount of water
that you need. Flow-through raceways, I talked about those
a little bit earlier. They’re simple systems. The water goes in, goes through
the raceway, the fish use it and then it leaves the
raceway and goes out the door. They’re not very efficient
but they’re very common cuz that’s what everybody
put in years ago. We have lots of
flow-through raceways located around Wisconsin
and elsewhere in a lot of different hatcheries in
a lot of different settings. We actually have lake trout,
brood stock that we hold in these raceways and what
we’re trying to do here is demonstrate a farm
tech style building that protects the raceways
and protects the fish so that they aren’t getting
any effects from the sun or any effects from perdation
or anything like that. These brood stock are part
of a project that we’re doing with a research scientist
out of Washington state who’s with NOAA and
he’s actually studying
the population, he’s looking at
the populations of lake trout in Lake Superior. We have two different strains, we have fat trout
and lean trout. The fat trout are
just like it sounds, they need to spend more time
on a bicycle or a treadmill. They’re fat. And then
there’s the lean trout that are kind of lean and
slick and they’re up in the shallower water and those
two groups have come together and there’s some issues
there and so he’s kind of looking at some
of that with some of the state biologists as well
trying to figure out why are these fish behaving
the way they are behaving. We’re helping with that
project a little bit. We also have some outdoor ponds and like I mentioned,
these ponds would be used to raise fish like
yellow perch or walleye. We have some aeration
into the pond. Right here we have some
aerators, we have a feeder, we’ve got fresh
water coming in and we would aerate this pond,
provide fresh water and feed to the fish and then at
the end of the season we’re harvesting those fish. So what do we really do? We talked a little bit
about what the facility has, what kind of systems we have, but what do we do
on a daily basis? Well, we’re conducting
applied research to benefit Wisconsin aquaculture
and we also work with a variety of partners. We test theories and
ideas with new equipment and supplies to
see if it’ll work. So a fish farmer might
come to us and say, “Hey, I’ve got this idea
for a fish feeder, you know, I want to use a leaf blower and
I want to make a fish feeder and blow feed into my pond and
I want to see if it’ll work.” Maybe we would test
that out for him to see if it really works
or does that blower end up getting gummed up with fish feed and stuff like that
and won’t work. It actually does work and
it’s really a fish feeder that’s used around
the state, now. People use leaf blowers and
blow feed out into the ponds. We cooperate with
private, state, tribal and federal partners
to conduct projects. I’m going to talk a little
bit more about that. Partnering up is really
important in today’s day of age, not only financially but
also it’s just the right thing to do, so we do
a lot of work together. We host and conduct training
workshops at the facility so depending on
what’s happening, we may host a workshop on
recirculation aquaculture, we may host a workshop
on walleye culture. We have somebody in the
audience who was at that one, Bob. (laughs) We work internationally
and give presentations at conferences all over the
country and all over the world. Some of our research
is presented at international conferences
and we share that information with partners all
over the place. So, what are we doing
in the facility? We’ve got some different
pictures here on the screen. We’re looking at some,
looks like a coho salmon and a brook trout
in a cup there and we’ve got a young
man and a young lady who are probably interns
working on projects and some yellow
perch in some tanks. Basically we’re just
showing that we have some experimental tank
design set ups. We’re monitoring the water
quality in those tanks and we have interns that
are helping with that and gaining some valuable
experience so that they can go out
into the workforce. This is a typical graph that
might show some of our results. This is actually looking at hybrid walleye versus purebred
walleye growth and weight. These lines are showing
different weights of groups of fish as they were
raised as we were doing a project to compare hybrid
walleye versus purebred walleye. This is actually one of our
keystone research projects we’ve been working on
for quite some time and we’re starting to get
Wisconsin farmers on board. We actually have a couple
farmers that are doing this now, that are starting to sell
fish to the market and we’re going to be presenting
some of this research at the World Aquaculture
Society meeting in February. Again, I talked about
partnerships, partnerships with private, federal, state,
tribal and university entities around the world encompassing
a lot of areas, right? The facility has been
quite successful. We are booked up right
now with research projects for at least the
next couple of years and we have people calling us
all the time asking for more projects and they want to do
this, they want to do that and I have to tell them
we’re too busy right now, we can’t do it but we’ll
put you on the docket for 2018 or 2020. Why are we so successful? I think we found a niche where
the recipe for success for us is these partnerships
so we’re working with private
aquaculture interests. This group here, the Aquaterra is the
main name of the company, they’re down in
southern Wisconsin and we’ve been working with them
to look at the feasibility of raising arctic char as
a food fish for Wisconsin. And it’s taken off
very well for them. They’ve actually built a
facility and they are hiring some of our interns and
some of our technicians to work there and they
are raising arctic char and selling them to the
Chicago and Milwaukee markets. Arctic Charr is a
really good fish to eat if you’ve never had it. It’s like a sweet
salmon. It’s really good. And again, I like to eat fish. Developing protocols for
lake herring production. That was a
collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Red Cliff Band of Lake
Superior Chippewas. We looked at raising lake
herring because there’s interest in restoring and stocking
those fish to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron because
they’ve been extirpated. The Fish and Wildlife
Service in particular is very interested in this
and they’re actually building a hatchery
to raise lake herring, but there’s a small problem, they’ve never
raised lake herring. So they’re building this
hatchery and they don’t know how to raise lake
herring so guess who they came to to
find out about it? They came and talked
to us and said, “Hey, would you guys
be interested in
partnering on this?” because we’ve raised
lake herring before. So we were able to help
them and we actually are writing a book right now on
how to raise lake herring for the facility that’s
being constructed right now. I talked a little bit
about this earlier, this is one of the
private Wisconsin farms. They got a small business
innovation research grant to study hybrid walleye. A lot of the fish farmers
come to us to help partner for grants and to help
partner for research cuz they just a lot of times
just don’t have the resources available so the university’s
able to really help them with that and dedicate
some resources to that for research projects. And this one has turned
into a really good one. It’s edible success basically,
so what do I mean by that? Starting with a
fingerling hybrid walleye, this is a native hybrid in
Wisconsin, it’s called a saugeye and it’s nothing fancy,
it happens in the wild, but they grow quite quickly. So this hybrid can be grown
up to a market size fish in less than a year and
then it results in some really, really nice
Friday night fish fries. So this farmer has taken
this under his wing and he’s moving forward with it. He’s been at it for a
couple years now and he’s slowly growing his facility
and we hope soon he’ll be able to supply fingerlings to other
groups, other private farmers and that he’ll be able
to help them as well. We’ve helped him all
along this process. Aquaponics, I touched on that. Aquaponics is a true
public-private partnership that we have going on right now. Its big driving force is
to educate the workforce, so we’ve been working
with Nelson and Pade. Nelson and Pade is one
of the leading consulting aquaponics groups in the
country and they’re based in Montello, Wisconsin and
UW-Stevens Point has been partnering with them and
they’ve been able to offer the first university aquaponics
course in the state and it’s one of three or four in the
nation that’s accredited. The university has an
opportunity to teach these kids. They have an opportunity to
go to Nelson and Pade and work at a real life aquaponics
facility and get some certification which will
help them later on in life. Another really important part
of what we do is our outreach. We do tons and tons
of interactive tours. We do kindergarten
through 12th grade, we do college,
universities as well and we also do lots of other
folks in between. We easily do several
hundred visitors every year. I think the number that’s
listed here is quite low. I think we’ve done quite
a bit more than that. We get people from all
over the world that come to visit our facility,
we actually get
requests from people. I have some folks from
Ontario that have requested to come work with us to see
how we do the walleye stuff and so they’re requesting
to send some techs, biologists and techs,
to work with us. We also work locally
with all of our schools. Bayfield, Ashland and
Washburn all have aquaponics and aquaculture
programs now and these have been incorporated
into their curriculums. We’re actually, you know the
kids are now learning this even as far back as
elementary and middle school and then they’re coming to
high school, they have a real aquaponics system
to work on and grow some vegetables and some fish. And by the time they go to
college, if they’re interested in this, they’ve got a
good hands-on working idea and we’re starting
to recruit kids from the high school now that
are going to the colleges and coming out of colleges
and we’re recruiting them as technicians and then
we’re finding them jobs. We provide a lot of technical
assistance and fish for our various partners and we’re
on the phone all the time. We’re open 24 hours
a day, it seems like because we’re getting
phone calls all the time because the fish don’t care
that it’s Johnny’s birthday or that it’s
Christmas or whatever. The fish will just die
on you if you don’t take care of them so we
have to provide a good good technical assistance
and we have to be able to respond to calls quickly. And we try to do
that as best we can. We also give lots and
lots of presentations, just like this one tonight. We give presentations
all over the country and internationally as
well and we go to a lot of industry conferences and
try to share our research. A lot of our information is
available on our web page, so if there’s reports
or something that
are of interest to you guys or to somebody
that’s out there, they can get those right
off of our web page. I mentioned job placement and right now it’s
been huge for us. Our interns and technicians
and even our volunteers have been getting full-time jobs out and about at
different places. We just had one that
went to Washington state to work for a company that’s
raising Atlantic salmon because we’re raising
Atlantic salmon and they’re working with us
and they liked what’s going on and so they hired one
of our technicians. We also just had a technician
that recently went over to work for the Red Cliff Band
of Lake Superior Chippewas, this smiling guy up
here in the corner. He was with us for five
years, he learned an awful lot and was a great, a great
technician and they got a really good worker
over there now from him. So we’re educating the
workforce and we’re doing that with hands-on training,
experience and applied research so that these kids come out
of college with a degree, but they come out of college
with hands-on training, experience and applied
research under their belt. And right now they
are in demand. I can’t place them
quick enough right now. I’ve got people calling
looking for more. We also work pretty closely
with our UW-Extension agents. We actually have a couple
that were aquaculture agents around the state and we’ve
worked with them to help create some jobs and save some
jobs and provide assistance to a lot of different fish
farmers that are out there. There’s a lot of
questions and sometimes it’s just a simple
question, you know. Somebody calls up and says, “Hey, I’ve got a pond and
I want to put fish in it, what do I need to do?” Other
times it’s really technical. It could be, “Hey, I’ve
got a million dollars and I want to invest in a
fish farm, what do I do?” So helping people
get through that, that’s part of what
we’re there for as well as trying to weed through
some of that stuff. And if we don’t know the
answer we’ll try to send you to somebody who does
know the answer. And with that, there’s
my contact information. So again, my name
is Greg Fischer and I’m the Facilities Manager at the Northern Aquaculture
Demonstration Facility. And you can visit our web page at. Find out all kinds of
stuff and come for a visit whenever you would like. I’ll take any
questions at this time. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *