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Two projects at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point were among 19 awarded by the Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute this week. Sea Grant awarded $3.9 million to fund Great Lakes research, education and outreach projects, including:
· $213,000 for optimizing walleye production in aquaculture and aquaponic systems
· $50,000 for developing a course on managing natural resources in changing weather conditions
Professor of Fisheries Biology Christopher Hartleb will continue research on walleye and hybrid walleye in traditional aquaculture systems and in aquaponic production systems. He and colleagues at UW-Stevens Point’s Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility in Bayfield and Aquaponics Innovation Center in Montello will compare costs of production, yield and revenue.
The aquaculture and aquaponic industries need more fish options along with scientific, technical and economic information to successfully raise fish in integrated recycle production systems, he said. Aquaculture producers raise a variety of fish types, but water shortages and environmental regulations are shifting production practices to recirculating systems. In aquaponics, tilapia is the only one fish type that has been extensively researched.
Walleye has great potential as an aquaculture species because it has high market value and limited supply from traditional commercial sources, said Hartleb, who is also director of the Bayfield facility.
“Our project will conduct key commercial production evaluations using traditional and integrated aquaculture systems raising walleye and hybrid walleye from fry to market size,” he said.
They will study three stocking densities and nutrient recycling in traditional and integrated aquaculture systems known as aquaponics. This will provide valuable economic and biological information to help commercial fish producers evaluate this new fish for their systems.
The second project is being conducted by six faculty members at UW-Stevens Point campus along with a UW-Extension educator. Nancy Turyk, Katherine Clancy, Shiba Kar, Holly Petrillo, William Fisher and Eric Anderson of the College of Natural Resources will develop an online course and field experience using the Lake Superior basin.
The course will integrate the effects of changing weather conditions as a critical element in natural resources decision-making processes. Students will learn about current and predicted conditions and how to assess and interpret research so they can develop strategies to adapt to changing conditions.
The Lake Superior basin provides a great study environment, Turyk said, because it is changing so quickly. By anticipating the economic implications on the paper industry, hunting, fishing, recreation and tribal cultures, resource managers will be able to make decisions leading to greater resiliency in communities and natural resource systems, she said.
The elective course, expected to be offered first in the spring of 2017, will include a field study of a week to 10 days in the Lake Superior basin.
The two-year Sea Grant funding supports 19 projects exploring freshwater seas. Researchers will look at the health of waterways, methods to prevent Great Lakes beach contamination and possible ways to lessen the destruction of floods, among others. UW campuses in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee and Northland College and St. Norbert College were also funded.