At a Virginia Tech facility in Hampton, a group of visiting scholars from around the world are hard at work learning all about marine larviculture.
In conjunction with the newly formed International Initiative for Sustainable and Biosecure Aquafarming (IISBA), Virginia Tech faculty are hosting the first Intensive Marine Finfish Larviculture Research And Training Workshop, focusing on cobia (Rachycentron canadum). The two-month residential workshop, which began on July 1st and will continue through the end of August, was organized by the Virginia Tech Aquaculture Center (VTAC) and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (VSAREC).
Attendees are getting a complete course in cobia larviculture and are being provided with hands-on training in intensive algal and live feed production and enrichment technologies. During their stay, participants are actively engaged in experimental larval rearing (in excess of 100 million rotifers and Artemia per day) and assessment of novel weaning diets. All research is conducted within the VSAREC’s state-of-art recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), where attendees are also able to develop practical skills in system construction, maintenance, and support.
The workshop’s residents have the option of being housed at the VSAREC’s dormitory, which can accommodate up to six people. The residents include researchers and visiting scientists from IISBA collaborators, industrial partners including INVE Aquaculture NV (Denermonde, Belgium) Alltech Inc. (Nicholasville, Ky.), and government extension agencies including the Association Réunionnaise de Development de l'Aquaculture (ARDA), France. Graduate students from Virginia Tech’s Colleges of Natural Resources and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil, also are participating. This mix of research and production aquaculturists from both the private and public sectors also serves to broaden the understanding that is gained by the participants.
“This workshop is a tremendous opportunity for me to learn state-of-the-art marine larviculture production from an internationally recognized leader in the field” said Marcell Boaventura, an undergraduate student from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil. Research on cobia has been a priority at Virginia Tech since 2001. The VTAC and VSAREC have undertaken a broad range of investigations with this species in the areas of system design, larviculture optimization, nutrition, immune function and physiology. More recent research initiated this summer revolves around the application of microarray technology as a means of examining the impact of various production manipulations on gene expression. Virginia Tech presents a uniquely coordinated approach to single-species aquaculture research, development, and industrial implementation.
Sponsors of this year’s workshop include Blue Ridge Aquaculture (Martinsville, Va.), ARDA, INVE, Alltech Inc., Reed Mariculture Inc. (Campbell, Calif.) and Aqualider Maricultura Ltda. (Pernambuco, Brazil).
The success of this year’s workshop, and the many requests for its continuation have led Virginia Tech to offer the workshop on an annual basis – next year’s workshop also is scheduled to take place between June and August. For further details please contact: Michael H. Schwarz, Aquaculture Specialist, VSAREC, 102 S. King Street, Hampton, VA 23669.