Baskets of hard clams on a Cedar Key dock — Cutline below
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Aquaculture, the controlled production of seafood, ornamental fish and other aquatic life, is big business in Florida. In 2012, the state’s producers earned $70 million in cash receipts, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey.
Worldwide, aquaculture is responsible for about half of all seafood consumed, so this emerging sector of Florida agricultural production holds great promise for the future, said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Flood and Agricultural Sciences.
To inform the public about this rapidly developing field, Florida Sea Grant chose aquaculture as the subject of its latest special report for the statewide business magazine Florida Trend.
The report, “Florida’s Economy Is Expanding Under the Sea,” appears in the April issue of the magazine. It’s the second of a four-part series focused on important opportunities and challenges involving the marine environments off Florida’s shores. (more …)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Leslie Sturmer is rooted in the culture – or should we say “aquaculture” – of Cedar Key.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent works with shellfish harvesters and farmers in the small North Florida Gulf Coast town.
“I’ve been in aquaculture my whole life,” said Sturmer, “I’ve lived here for 22 years. I’m married to a clam farmer. I’d like to think I provide assistance to the industry.”
Last month, Sturmer was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society.
“To be honored by your peers is very rewarding,” she said. “I’d hate to think it’s because I’m getting old. To see Cedar Key continue to be a working waterfront community, to see this community be supported by aquaculture is more rewarding than the plaque. But the plaque is recognition that your peers see you’re doing worthwhile work.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida researchers will work with other scientists to study how to make the water and marine life in Tampa Bay healthier, which in turn could help protect Florida’s offshore ecosystems and fishing economy.
Scientists with UF/IFAS are the first researchers at the Center for Conservation, part of an alliance comprised of UF/IFAS, Tampa’s Florida Aquarium, Tampa Electric Co. and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The partnership came about after Tampa Electric, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, offered the Florida Aquarium 20 acres in Apollo Beach for off-site quarantine and animal holding in 2012-13, said Craig Watson, director of the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin. Watson suggested the partners bring FWC aboard because the agency was looking for marine enhancement centers, Watson said.
Then TECO, the Florida Aquarium, UF/IFAS and FWC formed an alliance to create the Center for Conservation on the Apollo Beach site, he said. The site is also near TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center. The CFC will try to solve aquatic resource problems, Watson said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A camera can accurately count freshwater fish, even in the thickest of underwater vegetation, a key finding for those who manage fisheries and control the invasive plant hydrilla, new University of Florida research shows.
The finding by UF/IFAS scientists can help researchers understand how many and which fish species are using dense plant habitats, said former UF/IFAS graduate student Kyle Wilson.
While cameras have been used to document fish behavior – including eating and breeding ─ this marks the first time scientists have used video to count fish in underwater plant habitats, Wilson said. In addition, no prior studies that used cameras to count fish verified their fish populations.
“It is commonly assumed that dense and invasive plants, like hydrilla, can drastically change fish habitat quality, primarily through changes in dissolved oxygen levels, water chemistry and habitat structure,” Wilson said. “Whether these changes are good or bad for fish has previously remained uncertain due to sampling problems in dense plant habitats. Using underwater cameras, we have shown that fish can and do use habitats we previously thought were too stressful for fish habitat.”
This is a big problem, especially with hydrilla, a plant that has invaded lakes throughout Florida, much of the U.S., Central America, South Africa and Australia, Wilson said. He estimated Florida spent up to $14 million per year throughout the 2000s to manage hydrilla, while the U.S. spent about $100 million per year in the 2000s for aquatic plant management.
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March 18, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. –The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is joining forces with two entities as part of a $3 million, three-year contract to provide scientific data to help protect and restore the state’s springs system. UF/IFAS’ partners in the effort are the St. Johns River Water Management District, which is funding the project, and UF’s Water Institute. (more …)
Feb. 25, 2014
GAINESVLLE, Fla. – For years, scientists tried to find out why some small streams carry only minute concentrations of nitrogen.
Now Stefan Gerber, a University of Florida researcher with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Jack Brookshire, an assistant professor of biogeochemistry from Montana State University, believe they have solved the mystery. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Although some scientists suggest that coral reefs are headed for certain doom, a new study by University of Florida and Caribbean researchers indicates even damaged reefs can recover.
In a 13-year study in the Cayman Islands, warm ocean temperatures led to bleaching and infectious disease that reduced live coral cover by more than 40 percent between 1999 and 2004. But seven years later, the amount of live coral on the reefs, the density of young colonies critical to the reefs’ future health, and the overall size of corals all had returned to the 1999 state, the study showed.
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GAINESVILLE – A new book gives readers a plethora of information about an Indonesian tropical fish that’s popular globally but threatened by the aquarium industry, says a University of Florida professor who helped write it.
The book, “Banggai Cardinalfish: A Guide to Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History,” is described on the cover as a manual for aquarium enthusiasts, divers and breeders interested in the Banggai Cardinalfish. It’s available online at www.banggai-rescue.com.
“It’s kind of an educational update,” said Roy Yanong, an associate professor and extension veterinarian at UF’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “It’s a review of all we learned, scientifically and anecdotally.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many scientists see great promise in algae as a new source of oil — a sustainable, environmentally sound way to break the world’s fossil fuel dependence.
Algal lipids from microalgae are one of the best sources for biofuels – algae grow quickly, tolerate extreme weather conditions, and do not pose the same issues as biofuel crops that are grown both for fuel and food.
Many research teams in academia and private industry are struggling, however, with one vexing problem with algae as a fuel source: The conditions that promote algal growth aren’t the same as the conditions that allow the algae to create the maximum amount of oil.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and related food industries provided a $104 billion impact on the state in 2011 and have continued to improve since the 2008 recession, according to a new University of Florida study.
The study is the latest report from researchers in UF’s food and resource economics department — part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — on the industries’ economic contributions. It can be viewed here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FE/FE93500.pdf.
The industries include crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production; agricultural product and service providers; food product manufacturing; forest product manufacturing; food distribution; mining and nature-based recreation.