Give and man a fish, and he eats for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.
Teach a man to farm fish, and he feeds the world for generations!
Aquaculture is the practice of cultivating aquatic organisms (plants and animals) in a freshwater or saltwater (marine) environment. The resulting products can be used for food to feed the growing human population, wildstock enhancement (i.e. replacing wild economically or environmentally valuable plants and animals), ornamental fish trade, or research and education.
The aquaculture industry is rapidly expanding and its contribution to global food production is increasing at a significantly higher rate than any other food producing industry. It appears that aquaculture is set to overtake capture fisheries as the major contributor to world fish production in the 21st (FAO, 2007) (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Projected growth of fish production and aquaculture growth in the 21st century.
The practice of growing organisms in the marine environment is called mariculture (marine farming) and it is this technology that holds the most promise in the future of aquaculture because of the vastness of the oceans. The technology necessary for farming the ocean is presently evolving to a level that makes this field practical, exciting and a viable option for qualified students (Figures 2 and 3).
Figure 2. One type of state of the art technology for offshore marine farming called the AquaPodTM (Ocean Farm Technologies, Inc.): a) a conceptual design, b) deployment, c) in use
Figure 3. Another type of state of the art technology for offshore marine farming called the SeaStationTM (Ocean Spar, LLC.): a) a conceptual design, b) in use.
This field offers challenges in marine engineering, marine biology, policy and business. Therefore, those who are qualified will be highly marketable in all aspects of marine science.
The vision of Florida Keys Community College is to be a world leader in aquaculture/mariculture education and research to help pioneer this exciting new field. We have established collaborations with many local aquaculture businesses such Marathon Aqua Ranch and Symbiologics (MARS) and Shrimp Improvement Systems of Marathon (SIS), various state and federal government agencies including Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Fisheries, specifically the NOAA South East Aquaculture Consortium (SEACON). In addition to our business and government collaborations FKCC students will also work closely with other academic institutions such as The University of Miami – Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM-RSMAS) and Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Our goal is to provide a state-of-the-art curriculum in aquaculture through courses, field research and internships that will result in immediate placement of our graduates into aquaculture/mariculture industry.
Our vision will be achieved by initially offering an Associate of Science degree (within the next year) and ultimately a four year Bachelor of Science degree (within the next two years). These degrees are highly marketable, allowing graduates the competitive advantage necessary for immediate employment, not just in the aquaculture/mariculture industry but any type of marine science.
FAO. 2007. Food Outlook. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ah876e/ah876e10.htm#37