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Four-day event shows importance of aquaculture farming

The start of a four-day aquaculture seminar in New Bern is meant to show the importance of North Carolina seafood and how the hometown product really is.

There’s lots of fresh seafood at the New Bern Convention Center for the aquaculture seminar, from shrimp and crab to catfish caught two days ago and prepared for those who love the taste of it. But that catfish wasn’t caught in the river. Instead, it was raised using aquaculture.

“Aquaculture is the production of food, fish or with shellfish and oysters in a controlled environment,” said Pete Anderson an Agribusiness and Aquaculture consultant. “It’s basically farming. It’s no different than beef cattle or poultry or corn for that matter. It’s a farming practice.”

Hundreds gathered Friday at the seminar to learn more about the process. Carolyn Makowski was one of the many there and said although she doesn’t have experience with it, she sees it as a sway to break into farming.

“I’m looking for something for some kind of possibility of getting into farming,” Makowski said.

During the four-day conference, everything involved in growing seafood this way will be explained.

“You know we could take some retirement money and actually do something that could benefit the community of having a good seafood product and also make some money too,” Makowski said.

People even got to learn from farmers themselves, like Randy Gray, who has raised Talapia for 18 years this way.

“The protein that I can grow in a 60 by 200 building probably would have to be, I would say, 30 acres of ponds,” Gray said. “You know if it was grown out in the ocean or on land.”

While you might think it’s pointless to do this in our area, where we have so much seafood already, we were told a lot of our seafood comes from other places.

“Over 90 percent of the seafood we consume right now is imported,” Anderson said. “A lot of people are not aware of that, especially here in Eastern North Carolina when it is right in out the back door.”

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