Aquaculture -- the cultivation of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants -- can be traced back thousands of years to early civilizations in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Today, many nations around the world are growing seafood to help meet the needs of an increasing human population.
On Tuesday, July 25, at 7:00 p.m. at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, University of Delaware aquaculture specialist John Ewart will present "The World Is Your Oyster: How Aquaculture Bridges the Gap in the Seafood Industry." The talk is part of the Ocean Currents Lecture Series held monthly at the campus through September.
As aquaculture specialist for the UD Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, Ewart conducts research projects and shares information on the latest techniques with fish farmers. During his presentation, he will talk about aquaculture's history, the status of fish farming around the world, and its role in the United States today, with special emphasis on the Delmarva region.
"Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector in U.S. agriculture," Ewart says. "The industry is valued at over $1 billion and is expanding steadily."
According to Ewart, catfish production currently ranks at the top of the U.S. aquaculture industry, followed by other important food fish such as salmon, trout, tilapia, shrimp, oysters, and crawfish.
"Besides supplementing the seafood supply, aquaculture can provide conservation benefits," Ewart says. "Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies have operated hatcheries since the mid-1800s to stock public waters with trout and other game fish. Also, some fish and shellfish can be used to help improve water quality in certain areas."
Currently, Ewart is working to get more shellfish growing in Delaware's Inland Bays. Adding more clams and oysters, which feed by filtering algae out of the water, could help counter the impact of nutrient overloads. Ewart hopes to enlist residents along the bays to help raise shellfish. In Virginia, he says, there are more than 1,000 "shellfish gardeners" who grow oysters for Chesapeake Bay. He sees the potential for a similar program using clams in the Inland Bays.
In addition to his research projects, Ewart operates the Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center at the Lewes campus. The center offers a variety of aquaculture resources to the public, from books to videos. He also maintains the center's award-winning Web site at darc.cms.udel.edu.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.