Jeopardy for $200:
“The Mermaids’ Cotillion.
What is, “Where one goes to learn aquaculture?”
One can also learn about aquaculture regulation at the Department of Agriculture. How many of you knew the state vet’s office was responsible for aquaculture regulation? We have a handful of rules that are based on about a dozen statutes which start by defining aquaculture thusly…
“Aquaculture” or “aquaculture facility” means the controlled propagation, growth and harvest of aquatic animals or plants, including fish, amphibians, shellfish, mollusks, crustaceans, algae and vascular plants.
Yep, even the algae-based bio-diesel folks are under our jurisdiction. It’s a good thing brand laws don’t apply to tilapia!
For the most part though, things “fishy” fall to our counterparts at Arizona Game and Fish Department. One of their folks, Rob Bettaso, kindly wrote up a bit about some of their work in the fish world. Here it is; and my thanks to Rob and the folks at AZGFD.
When it comes to livestock, “Home, Home on the Range” perhaps best qualifies as the soundtrack for the American West. However, another type of stock has become increasingly common, and important, to the overall protein production of the United States – namely, various fish species, be they trout, catfish, or tilapia.
In recent decades, aquatic animals (shellfish, finfish, bullfrogs, and alligators) have become an increasingly lucrative crop for those who grow food under the science known as “aquaculture” (as distinguished from agriculture). While this trend has been common in many parts of Asia for centuries, it has only relatively recently become common in other parts of the world.
There are two primary reasons for this shift: 1) the health benefits of a diet rich in seafood are now well documented, and 2) as the human population grows, it only makes sense that we would seek to grow food in as many places as possible, and especially in the 3 dimensional world of water.
Fish farming is the term used for growing fish under captive conditions including fish hatchery “raceways” as well as in tanks, earthen ponds, or in pens and cages used in lakes, estuaries, and bays. “Fish ranching” is a term sometimes used for raising the eggs and/or broodstock of certain fishes, and then the fry and fingerlings of which are allowed to migrate to open waters (large lakes as well as seas and oceans) where they can live and grow for years prior to being rounded up (or migrating back to the place of their birth) for harvest.
Regardless of the techniques used, all properly managed aquacultural operations need to address issues of fish health. As with terrestrial husbandry, aquatic animals need two major types of health work – diagnostic actions and health inspections for certification purposes. In the State of Arizona (as with virtually all States) multiple entities may be involved in these efforts including the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA), Arizona Game and Fish Department, Department of Environmental Quality, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and various local agencies.
Because Arizona is primarily a desert/arid State, we have significantly less aquaculture than many other States. All commercial aquaculture must obtain permits from the ADA for various aspects of aquaculture including the import/export of aquacultured products, aquatic animal transport, and the actual growing of aquatic organisms. All commercial operations are also required to have annual certifications confirming that they have undergone a fish health inspection within a 12 month period and that they have tested negative for State and federally recognized reportable pathogens (that are the cause of infectious diseases between certain aquatic species; none of which are communicable from any aquatic species to humans).
As with agriculture, sound health management is not only vital to the well-being of our aquatic natural resources, but it is vital to the national economy and to any given grower’s financial bottom line. So, the next time you hear or read of an epizootic, don’t forget that it may not be hoof and mouth disease, but may be case of fin rot, furunculosis, or fish lice….