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FAU Harbor Branch works to resolve world's fish sustainability problem

Posted: 9:51 PM, Apr 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-24 09:01:54-04
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Paul Wills showed WPTV around his farm recently. It is a place where aquaculture is the focus, and the research professor is overseeing operations at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

Professor Wills says, “We are going to need new products to feed the world, particularly protein.”

Commercial fisheries cannot keep up with worldwide demand. Oceans are overfished and fish populations are disappearing.

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“About 77 percent of our commercial fish are either fished at the maximum level or have collapsed or are recovering from collapse,” Wills said.

The United States lags many countries, including world-leading China, when it comes to aquaculture. At Harbor Branch researchers hope to help close that gap.

Professor Wills explained, “Aquaculture is there to fill that gap(in supply). It’s not there to compete with commercial fisheries. Currently, over 90 percent of the seafood we consume in the U.S. is imported.”

From infancy to harvest, Harbor Branch studies the life cycle of fish, shellfish, and aqua-plants. Fish are monitored in indoor tanks while seaweed grows in huge outdoor tanks.

Techniques learned here, they hope, will find their way into a growing and thriving U.S.-based aquaculture industry. All of it is a peek at the future, one where experts say food security will demand reliance on food sources from every possible venue.