By C. Greg Lutz
That was the response I got when I was trying to develop a theme for these comments and I asked a colleague for “one profound observation” regarding aquaculture. Those words really resonated, and they apply to a number of the topics discussed in this issue.
Producers know this universal truth better than anyone, which is why they are continually searching for ways to cut costs and improve profitability. In this issue, we highlight a new use of existing technology that is allowing shrimp growers to greatly improve their feeding strategies. It lets the shrimp decide when they feel like eating, and when they have had enough. The impacts on the bottom line and the environmental footprint are impressive.
Any time a producer makes a decision to invest in new technology, it’s expensive from a certain perspective, but in the long run it can make it less expensive to produce a ton of shrimp, or tilapia, or trout. Tools and technologies already exist to solve many of the problems we run into, but sometimes this requires thinking outside the box. If a disease organism produces toxins inside a shrimp’s digestive tract, put an enterosorbent into the feed. Now why didn’t I think of that?
Improving efficiency also involves finding uses for by-products from the production cycle. Recirculating aquaculture systems are becoming more widely recognized as a viable option, and what has long been considered a waste disposal issue (solid-laden effluent) could well be a source for a commercially valuable by-product with minimal investment, using widely available materials.
Expansion and/or diversification of an aquaculture operation are inherently going to be expensive. But sometimes the numbers make sense. Dr. Carol Engle walks us through the decision making process, with a focus on the types of information one would need to gather, summarize and then consider.
It’s expensive. But, as in any business, it takes money to make money. Where are you making your investments? In information? Our Europe report discusses a new data-mining initiative that will hopefully allow producers to tease important trends out of the mounds of data they already record and store. Another type of information worth obtaining involves updates on industry trends, policy debates and market issues. The Fishmonger points out that most of us have severely neglected making the investments required to be better informed and represented in this arena.
It’s expensive, even when things go well. And in this business mistakes are expensive too, including letting down one’s guard. Our Latin America report provides a sobering example of what can go wrong when site selection and environmental conditions go from optimal to inviable over a short period of time.
It’s expensive, indeed.
Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.