Oyster Gardening on Mobile Bay

MASGP 10-005-01 January 2010
P.J. Waters
Extension Specialist: Aquaculture
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant
Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Hello Oyster Gardeners,
Happy New Year! I hope everyone is warming up a bit from our recent arctic experience. At this point, the oysters you took such good care of during the 2009 season have been on the restoration/enhancement sites for two months. In the first half of 2010 I hope to bring you an update on their progress. In the meantime, we are beginning to plan for this year’s gardening season.

Now is the time to start encouraging your neighbors to join. All they need to do is contact me and we can get them signed up. Training workshops will be held for new gardeners this year (April/May) in both Baldwin and Mobile Counties. I can be reached at 251.438.5690 or waterph@aces.edu . If you are involved incommunity organizations that meet and you would like Oyster Gardening to be presented, let me know and I will be happy to make a short presentation to your group.

I am happy to announce that the Oyster Gardening website is online. Special thanks to John Grigsby (MSAL Sea Grant) for setting it up for us. You can access it at www.oystergardening.org . We are still adding content, and when complete you will be able to submit measurement data online, view forms, and access the newsletter online.

Cage Repair and Replacement

As we enter the off season for growing oysters, we have a great opportunity to repair and replenish gear needed for next season. If you noticed broken doors, latches, hinges, etc. on your cages, please let me know soon so we can arrange to get them repaired.

If you lost cages last year in storms, not to worry, we can replace them, but please let me know. While we are out repairing, we can deliver replacement cages before the start of the new season.

2010 Cage Placement

This year, we are emphasizing the use of a two-point harness connecting gardens to your wharf. This will help keep the oysters evenly distributed, decrease the wear on the gardens, and reduce the loss rate in small storms.

New gardeners and those receiving replacement cages will be set up with the two point harness and a clip. For existing cages, these materials can be provided.

Volunteer Match Time Logs

If you have not completed your time match logs, please take a second and send it in. This form is extremely important for the match portion of the NEP funding. An extra copy was included in the December Newsletter, and is on the website.

When complete, you can fax the form to 251.438.5670 or mail it to 4170 Commanders Drive Mobile, Alabama 36615. You can also scan it and e mail it to me at waterph@aces.edu.

A Look Ahead

Next month, we will be including the first of four quarterly updates from the University of South Alabama entitled USA Restoration Briefs. The topics covered in this brief will focus on oyster reef restoration and fisheries enhancement. As we go through 2010, we will include these briefs as well as updates from USA on the progress of the oyster you grew in 2009. Should be interesting!

Corporate Partners

I want to introduce you to a new corporate partner of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program for the 2010 season. The Organized Seafood Association of Alabama has generously contributed to the program and we welcome their addition. If you are interested in more information about OSAA, they can be reached at www.alabamaseafood.org .

Thanks to everyone who sent in ideas for corporate partners. We are making progress on this front, and have plans to continue to develop relationships with corporations and associations who are interested in the program. If you have additional ideas, please let us know. The funds raised through these partnerships help to cover the program costs (cages, boats, etc.) and support student projects within the context of the Oyster Gardening program.

New video features evolution of the AWW Program

A Living Downstream video was first produced over a decade ago in VHS format. Recently, the video was reformatted in digital form and updated to reflect the growth and evolution of the AWW Program over the past 18 years, since its inception in 1992.

View the video

Under the leadership of Dr. Bill Deutsch, AWW Program Director, thousands of Alabamians have been trained and certified in water quality monitoring, from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. AWW-trained citizen volunteers monitor their local waters, educate communities on how to better utilize and preserve water resources, and actively take part in shaping water-management policy throughout Alabama.

Fisheries Faculty and Staff

AU Daily

The Auburn University College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station wrapped up 2009 with an annual awards program to
honor faculty and staff. Faculty recognized for excellence in teaching, advising and research included agronomy and soils professor Elizabeth Guertal, who received the 2009 Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence; animal sciences professor Steve Schmidt, winner of the 2009 Dean’s Award for Advising Excellence; Henry Kinnucan, agricultural economics and rural sociology professor and winner of the 2009 Senior Researcher Award; and agronomy and soils assistant professor Scott McElroy, who took home the 2009 Junior Researcher Award. Five other faculty members — professor Rex Dunham, associate professor Jeff Terhune and research fellow Bill Deutsch, all in fisheries and allied aquacultures, and Nannan Liu and Joseph Kloepper in the entomology and plant pathology department — were presented 2009 Grantsmanship Awards in recognition of their outstanding successes in landing research dollars through extramural grants and contracts. In the staff and administrative/professional employees awards category, 2009 Employee of the Year awards went to Beth Clendenen, an academic program administrator in horticulture; fisheries and allied aquacultures’ Deutsch; Katie Hardy, College of Ag development program coordinator; Michael MacGhar, an agriculture technician at E.V. Smith Research Center; and Scott Snyder, information technology specialist for the college and the Experiment Station.

Aquaculture Workforce-Development Needs Addressed Through Distance Learning

Beyond Auburn – Fall 2009

The Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture at Auburn University, the recognized world leader in aquaculture education and training for many years, is now on the cutting edge of global workforce-development training. Its new non-credit Certificate for Aquaculture Professionals, or CAP, is provided worldwide via distance education.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recognized the need to develop this global training program, citing increases in both global population and seafood demand per capita.

Global aquaculture production will need to double by 2030 to keep pace with demand, and in most countries, there are already an insufficient number of trained workers in the aquaculture field.

Government agencies require specialists who are knowledgeable about aquaculture activities and can evaluate, develop, and improve aquaculture projects. Aquaculture ventures need specialists in current aquaculture techniques and procedures. Without these trained specialists, government and industry needs are not met, and the potential economic opportunities of the industry are not fully realized.

The CAO program targets four primary educational markets: government agencies, universities, privately owned farms, and individual aquaculture professionals. Each client can benefit from training that will help build the knowledge to perform industry duties with the highest proficiency standards.

Guided by Antonio Garza deYta and Troy Hahn, the CAP program and the Distance Learning & Outreach Technology office have worked to support fisheries and allied aquaculture faculty in the design and production of online modules to deliver program content in multiple languages. The content is structured into ,modules such as water quality, hatchery management, and genetics and breeding.

Students access the content and are assessed via Auburn’s web-based learning management system, Blackboard.

The CAP program was conceptualized and planned in 2008, module development began early in 2009, and program leaders are currently piloting CAP with aquaculture professionals in Mexico.

The Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture is capitalizing on the ability to develop instructional materials, translate them into a variety of languages, and deliver them to multiple audiences across the globe simultaneously to extend the reach of its workforce-development offerings.

Fish Wastewater Perfect for Plants

Ag Illustrated – December 2009 (Research News, Pg.9)

Fish farmers in Alabama who produce tilapia in greenhouse-enclosed tanks can turn the wastewater from those tanks into a new source of on-farm income, say two College of Ag scientists and Alabama Ag Experiment Station researchers.

<em/>A WIN-WIN DEAL -> Left photo, Jesse Chappell, associate professor of fisheries and allied aquacultures at Auburn, scoops a tilapia from a greenhouse-enclosed tilapia-production tank. Chappell and horticulture professor Jeff Sibley are collaborating on a project in which fish wastewater is piped into an adjacent horticultural greenhouse to irrigate and fertilize plants. Right photo, Adam Sleeper, a horticulture graduate student, looks at red verbena that are among the bedding plants, ornamental shrubs, produce and more growing in the adjacent greenhouse. The system can give farmers a dual source of income.

A WIN-WIN DEAL -> Left photo, Jesse Chappell, associate professor of fisheries and allied aquacultures at Auburn, scoops a tilapia from a greenhouse-enclosed tilapia-production tank. Chappell and horticulture professor Jeff Sibley are collaborating on a project in which fish wastewater is piped into an adjacent horticultural greenhouse to irrigate and fertilize plants. Right photo, Adam Sleeper, a horticulture graduate student, looks at red verbena that are among the bedding plants, ornamental shrubs, produce and more growing in the adjacent greenhouse. The system can give farmers a dual source of income.

Jesse Chappell, Extension fisheries specialist and associate professor of fisheries and allied aquacultures, and horticulture professor Jeff Sibley have developed a system in which nutrient-rich fish wastewater from a tilapia tank is piped to an adjacent horticultural greenhouse, where it’s used to irrigate and nourish all manner of plants. So in addition to fish, producers would have high value, organically grown ornamental shrubs, bedding plants, cut flowers, herbs and fresh produce to market.

Chappell says that when greenhouse tilapia are fed, they retainat most 50 percent of the nutrients in the feed and excrete the rest. With the fish-and-plant-production system, a producer can turn a wastewater disposal problem into profit.

One crucial factor in such a system, however, is the nutrient load of the wastewater. The volume of nutrients depends on a number of production variables–including the kind of fish in the tank, how many there are, how big they are, how much water the tank will hold and how much water is in the tank–and determining how those factors impact nutrient levels has been a central element of the study.

Sibley says once all data have been collected and analyzed, the information will be distributed to farmers through printed materials and through educational aquaculture Web sites such as ALEARN (www.alearn.info)/ The materials, which include nutrition details as well as how-to information to help farmers set up their own systems, should be available in early 2010.

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