The Department of Environmental Protection will host its second Aquaculture Workshop on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 to provide Bermudians with an opportunity to consider commercial aquaculture as a business, an investment or a career choice.
A statement issued by the Department said, “Aquaculture is the farming of water-based organisms including fish, shellfish and algae. Most commonly used for food production, aquaculture represents the world’s fastest growing food sector.
“Aquaponics is the utilization of fish waste created by aquaculture for the production of crops – as fish waste is known to be an excellent fertilizer.
“Initial observations suggest a concrete system will work best for Bermuda and can be made from local materials. Tilapia and shrimp were proposed as the two organisms which may be most successful in an aquaculture set-up in Bermuda, while tomatoes, strawberries, Romaine lettuce and basil were possible options from an aquaponics perspective.”
The workshop, entitled ‘Intensive Indoor Aquaculture and Aquaponics’, will be led by international aquaculture expert Doug Burdette who has more than 40 years experience in the aquaculture industry through his company Global Aquatics.
Mr. Burdette’s company designs specific aquaculture systems for countries around the world. Prices for these systems range from $5,000 to $60,000.
According to Mr. Burdette, a $5,000 system could produce as much as 12,500 meals per year while $60,000 would produce 50,000 meals.
“The key is that these systems are affordable,” Mr. Burdette explained. “It is a science that can be started in a relatively primitive manner.
“In a 3,000 gallon tank, you can produce one pound of fish per gallon of water. Furthermore, in a system that is 25 feet wide and 60 feet long you can grow 25,000 pounds of fish a year. The waste from this can translate to 375,000 pounds of produce.”
Mr. Burdette was on the island over the weekend doing exploratory studies of possible locations for aquaculture structures – a visit that he self-funded.
Mr. Burdette said, “In the US, one of the main things we outsource is agriculture. We import so much of fish and green vegetables, which has eliminated jobs in the U.S. I believe it is the same situation here in Bermuda.”
He added: “Aquaculture will give Bermuda more independence when it comes to local food production. Right now, if you get cut off from the international food supply you have a big problem.”
Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Marc Bean explained that there are a number of benefits that Bermuda stands to gain from pursuing aquaculture.
Minister Bean said: “The emergence of a new aquaculture industry will provide new business, employment, and investment opportunities for Bermudians.
“Furthermore, local production of farmed fish will contribute to our food security. Presently, 75% of the seafood consumed in Bermuda is imported and, while there are a number of reasons that make it unlikely that Bermuda could be entirely self-sufficient, any aquaculture operation would serve to reduce our dependence on imported seafood.”
Director of Environmental Protection Dr. Frederick Ming said: “We went to Mr. Burnette because we feel confident in his ability to guide us through the process of building a solid foundation for commercial aquaculture and aquaponics that suits local conditions. This is something I have wanted to see in Bermuda since the 1970s.”
Dr. Ming added: “This workshop will provide valuable information relevant to a range of interests – from those with a genuine interest in learning more about aquaculture, to those who would like to start up their own aquaculture or aquaponics business in Bermuda.”
The workshop will take place in the Visitor’s Centre of the Botanical Gardens from 10am until 4pm on March 24th. Lunch may be purchased next door at Homer’s Café.