PIKETON, Ohio – At a time when some aquaculture research programs across the nation are struggling, the aquaculture program at Ohio State University's South Centers at Piketon is still going strong. The Ohio Aquaculture Research and Development Integration Program will receive about $580,000 in federal funding for fiscal year 2009 to continue supporting Ohio's $6 million aquaculture industry through research and Extension outreach.
"We feel very fortunate to have had such great support from both political parties in both the House and the Senate," said Laura Tiu, an Ohio State University aquaculture senior research associate. "As a result of the support from this line of federal funding, we've been able to leverage additional funds to help support our research and Extension efforts for the good of the state's industry. Our success is our ability to show impacts from the monies we've received."
The funds, which will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, were secured by Sens. Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich, and Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Zack Space.
The funds will be used to support OARDIP's five established research program areas: Ohio Genetic Improvement of Farmed-Fish Traits (O'GIFT), Bowling Green Aquaculture Program, Fish Production Improvement Program, Fish Muscle Growth and Nutrition Program, and the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Lab. In addition, the funds support the program's Extension outreach and education arm, known as Aquaculture Technology Transfer and Dissemination.
"The long-term support from federal line is essential to achieve the final goals of the long-term programs, such as O'GIFT, " said Han-Ping Wang, director of the Ohio Aquaculture Research and Development Integration Program. "The work we do here is important because the real challenge for the next decade is to get the aquaculture industries to introduce effective genetic improvement program using selective breeding. This has been proved by genetic improvement of other agricultural species such as dairy cattle. The funding we receive keeps the established long-term programs sustainable so we can continue supporting the state's aquaculture industry."
Wang, a principal scientist with the OSU South Centers, said the Ohio Aquaculture Research and Development Program focuses on Ohio's top three aquacultural and recreational fish: yellow perch, bluegill and largemouth bass, and important baitfish species. Research projects include:
• Genetically improving yellow perch so they can reach market size over a shorter period of time compared to the traditional farm-raised yellow perch.
• Developing all male bluegill populations to capitalize on their fast growth rate compared to females.
• Genetically improving largemouth bass to increase their growth rate.
• Manipulating spawning cycles of the spotfin shiner to produce multiple batches of fry for indoor culture systems.
"The growth rate of fish has a big impact on production and market efficiency," said Wang. "It's advantageous for a farmer to raise fish that reach their market size as quickly as possible."
In addition to the aforementioned projects, OSU South Centers researchers are also collaborating with colleagues in the Department of Animal Sciences, School of Environment and Natural Resources and Food Science and Technology to analyze fish muscle quality, nutrition and taste.
According to the USDA, aquaculture sales in Ohio have increased 73 percent since 1998, and the state ranks in the top 10 for yellow perch, bluegill and largemouth bass production. Ohio ranks No. 1 in sales of yellow perch for food and is No. 1 for bluegill production. Ohio ranks fourth in baitfish sales and fourth in largemouth bass production sold for sport. The state also ranks sixth in sales of hybrid striped bass sold as a food fish.
For more information about the Ohio Aquaculture Research and Development Integration Program, log on to http://southcenters.osu.edu and click on "Aquaculture."