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Intensive koi aquaculture facility in Israel

Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases juvenile fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species' natural numbers is generally referred to as a fish hatchery. The most common fish species raised by fish farms are, in order, salmon, carp, tilapia, catfish and cod.

Increasing demands on wild fisheries by commercial fishing has caused widespread overfishing. Fish farming offers an alternative solution to the increasing market demand for fish and fish protein.


Major categories of fish farms

There are two kinds of aquaculture: extensive aquaculture based on local photosynthetical production and intensive aquaculture, in which the fish are fed with external food supply. The management of these two kinds of aquaculture systems are completely different.

Extensive aquaculture

Aqua-Boy, a Norwegian live fish carrier used to service the Marine Harvest fish farms on the West coast of Scotland

Limiting for growth here is the available food supply by natural sources, commonly zooplankton feeding on pelagic algae or benthic animals, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Tilapia species filter feed directly on phytoplankton, which makes higher production possible. The photosynthetic production can be increased by fertilizing the pond water with artificial fertilizer mixtures, such as potash, phosphorus, nitrogen and micro-elements. Because most fish are carnivorous, they occupy a higher place in the trophic chain and therefore only a tiny fraction of primary photosynthetic production (typically 1%) will be converted into harvest-able fish. As a result, without additional feeding the fish harvest will not exceed 200 kilograms of fish per hectare per year, equivalent to 1% of the gross photosynthetic production.

A second point of concern is the risk of algal blooms. When temperatures, nutrient supply and available sunlight are optimal for algal growth, algae multiply their biomass at an exponential rate, eventually leading to an exhaustion of available nutrients and a subsequent die-off. The decaying algal biomass will deplete the oxygen in the pond water because it blocks out the sun and pollutes it with organic and inorganic solutes (such as ammonium ions), which can (and frequently do) lead to massive loss of fish.

In order to tap all available food sources in the pond, the aquaculturist will choose fish species which occupy different places in the pond ecosystem, e.g., a filter algae feeder such as tilapia, a benthic feeder such as carp or catfish and a zooplankton feeder (various carps) or submerged weeds feeder such as grass carp.

Despite these limitations significant fish farming industries use these methods. In the Czech Republic thousands of natural and semi-natural ponds are harvested each year for trout and carp. The large ponds around Trebon were built from around 1650 and are still in use.


  • Introduction to Aquaculture, college notes, Department of Aquaculture, Wageningen University
  • Aquaculture: training manual, second edition, Donald R. Swift, ISBN 0-85238-194-8

Intensive aquaculture

In these kinds of systems fish production per unit of surface can be increased at will, as long as sufficient oxygen, fresh water and food are provided. Because of the requirement of sufficient fresh water, a massive water purification system must be integrated in the fish farm. A clever way to achieve this is the combination of hydroponic horticulture and water treatment, see below. The exception to this rule are cages which are placed in a river or sea, which supplements the fish crop with sufficient oxygenated water. Some environmentalists object to this practice.

Expressing eggs from a female rainbow trout

The cost of inputs per unit of fish weight is higher than in extensive farming, especially because of the high cost of fish food, which must contain a much higher level of protein (up to 60%) than cattle food and a balanced amino acid composition as well. However, these higher protein level requirements are a consequence of the higher food conversion efficiency (FCR -- kg of feed per kg of animal produced) of aquatic animals. Fish like salmon have FCR's in the 1.1 kg of feed per kg of salmon range whereas chickens are in the 2.5 kg of feed per kg of chicken range. Fish don't have to stand up or keep warm and this eliminates a lot of carbohydrates and fats in the diet, required to provide this energy. This frequently is offset by the lower land costs and the higher productions which can be obtained due to the high level of input control.

Essential here is aeration of the water, as fish need a sufficient oxygen level for growth. This is achieved by bubbling, cascade flow or aqueous oxygen. Catfish, Clarias ssp. can breathe atmospheric air and can tolerate much higher levels of pollutants than trout or salmon, which makes aeration and water purification less necessary and makes Clarias species especially suited for intensive fish production. In some Clarias farms about 10% of the water volume can consist of fish biomass.

The risk of infections by parasites like fish lice, fungi (Saprolegnia ssp.), intestinal worms (such as nematodes or trematodes), bacteria (e.g., Yersinia ssp, Pseudomonas ssp.), and protozoa (such as Dinoflagellates) is similar to animal husbandry, especially at high population densities. However, animal husbandry is a larger and more technologically mature area of human agriculture and better solutions to pathogen problem exist. Intensive aquaculture does have to provide adequate water quality (oxygen, ammonia, nitrite, etc.) levels to minimize stress, which makes the pathogen problem more difficult. This means, intensive aquaculture requires tight monitoring and a high level of expertise of the fish farmer.

Controlling roes manually

Very high intensity recycle aquaculture systems (RAS), where there is control over all the production parameters, are being used for high value species. By recycling the water, very little water is used per unit of production. However, the process does have high capital and operating costs. The higher cost structures mean that RAS is only economical for high value products like broodstock for egg production, fingerlings for net pen aquaculture operations, sturgeon production, research animals and some special niche markets like live fish.[1] [2]

Raising ornamental cold water fish (goldfish or koi), although theoretically much more profitable due to the higher income per weight of fish produced, has never been successfully carried out until very recently. The increased incidences of dangerous viral diseases of koi Carp, together with the high value of the fish has led to initiatives in closed system koi breeding and growing in a number of countries. Today there are a few commercially successful intensive koi growing facilities in the UK, Germany and Israel.

Some producers have adapted their intensive systems in an effort to provide consumers with fish that do not carry dormant forms of viruses and diseases.

Specific types of fish farms

Within intensive and extensive aquaculture methods there are numerous specific types of fish farms, each has benefits and applications unique to its design.

Integrated recycling systems

One of the largest problems with freshwater aquaculture is that it can use a million gallons of water per acre (about 1 m³ of water per m²) each year. Extended water purification systems allow for the reuse (recycling) of local water.

The largest-scale pure fish farms use a system derived (admittedly much refined) from the New Alchemy Institute in the 1970s. Basically, large plastic fish tanks are placed in a greenhouse. A hydroponic bed is placed near, above or between them. When tilapia are raised in the tanks, they are able to eat algae, which naturally grows in the tanks when the tanks are properly fertilized.

The tank water is slowly circulated to the hydroponic beds where the tilapia waste feeds a commercial plant crops. Carefully cultured microorganisms in the hydroponic bed convert ammonia to nitrates, and the plants are fertilized by the nitrates and phosphates. Other wastes are strained out by the hydroponic media, which doubles as an aerated pebble-bed filter.

This system, properly tuned, produces more edible protein per unit area than any other. A wide variety of plants can grow well in the hydroponic beds. Most growers concentrate on herbs (e.g. parsley and basil), which command premium prices in small quantities all year long. The most common customers are restaurant wholesalers.

Since the system lives in a greenhouse, it adapts to almost all temperate climates, and may also adapt to tropical climates. The main environmental impact is discharge of water that must be salted to maintain the fishes' electrolyte balance. Current growers use a variety of proprietary tricks to keep fish healthy, reducing their expenses for salt and waste water discharge permits. Some veterinary authorities speculate that ultraviolet ozone disinfectant systems (widely used for ornamental fish) may play a prominent part in keeping the Tilapia healthy with recirculated water.

A number of large, well-capitalized ventures in this area have failed. Managing both the biology and markets is complicated.

Reference: Freshwater Aquaculture: A Handbook for Small Scale Fish Culture in North America, by William McLarney

Irrigation ditch or pond systems

These use irrigation ditches or farm ponds to raise fish. The basic requirement is to have a ditch or pond that retains water, possibly with an above-ground irrigation system (many irrigation systems use buried pipes with headers.) Using this method, one can store one's water allotment in ponds or ditches, usually lined with bentonite clay. In small systems the fish are often fed commercial fish food, and their waste products can help fertilize the fields. In larger ponds, the pond grows water plants and algae as fish food. Some of the most successful ponds grow introduced strains of plants, as well as introduced strains of fish.

Control of water quality is crucial. Fertilizing, clarifying and pH control of the water can increase yields substantially, as long as eutrophication is prevented and oxygen levels stay high.Yields can be low if the fish grow ill from electrolyte stress.

Composite fish culture

The Composite fish culture system is a technology developed in India by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in the 1970s. In this system both local and imported fish species, a combination of five or six fish species is used in a single fish pond. These species are selected so that they do not compete for food among them having different types of food habitats.[3][4] As a result the food available in all the parts of the pound is used. Fish used in this system include catla and silver carp which are surface feeders, rohu a column feeder and mrigal and common carp which are bottom feeders. Other fish will also feed on the excreta of the common carp and this helps contribute to the efficiency of the system which in optimal conditions will produce 3000-6000 kg of fish per hectare per year.

Cage system

Giant gourami is often raised in cages in central Thailand

Fish cages are placed in lakes, bayous, ponds, rivers or oceans to contain and protect fish until they can be harvested. They can be constructed of a wide variety of components. Fish are stocked in cages, artificially fed, and harvested when they reach market size. A few advantages of fish farming with cages are that many types of waters can be used (rivers, lakes, filled quarries, etc.), many types of fish can be raised, and fish farming can co-exist with sport fishing and other water uses. Cage farming of fishes in open seas is also gaining popularity. Concerns of disease, poaching, poor water quality, etc., lead some to believe that in general, pond systems are easier to manage and simpler to start. Also, past occurrences of cage-failures leading to escapes, have raised concern regarding the culture of non-native fish species in open-water cages. Even though the cage-industry has made numerous technological advances in cage construction in recent years, the concern for escapes remains valid.

Classic fry farming

Trout and other sport fish are often raised from eggs to fry or fingerlings and then trucked to streams and released. Normally, the fry are raised in long, shallow concrete tanks, fed with fresh stream water. The fry receive commercial fish food in pellets. While not as efficient as the New Alchemists' method, it is also far simpler, and has been used for many years to stock streams with sport fish. European eel (Anguilla anguilla) aquaculturalists procure a limited supply of glass eels, juvenile stages of the European eel which swim north from the Sargasso Sea breeding grounds, for their farms. The European eel is threatened with extinction because of the excessive catch of glass eels by Spanish fishermen and overfishing of adult eels in, e.g., the Dutch IJsselmeer, Netherlands. As per 2005, no one has managed to breed the European eel in captivity.


The issue of feeds in fish farming has been a controversial one. Many cultured fishes (tilapia, carp, catfish, many others) require no meat or fish products in their diets. Top-level carnivores (most salmon species) depend on fish feed of which a portion is usually derived from wild caught fish (anchovies, menhaden, etc.). Vegetable-derived proteins have successfully replaced fish meal in feeds for carnivorous fishes, but vegetable-derived oils have not successfully been incorporated into the diets of carnivores.

Secondly, farmed fish are kept in concentrations never seen in the wild (e.g. 50,000 fish in a 2-acre (8,100 m2) area.[5]) with each fish occupying less room than the average bathtub. This can cause several forms of pollution. Packed tightly, fish rub against each other and the sides of their cages, damaging their fins and tails and becoming sickened with various diseases and infections. This also causes stress.

However, fish tend also to be animals that aggregate into large schools at high density. Most successful aquaculture species are schooling species, which do not have social problems at high density. Aquaculturists tend to feel that operating a rearing system above its design capacity or above the social density limit of the fish will result in decreased growth rate and increased FCR (food conversion ratio - kg dry feed/kg of fish produced), which will result in increased cost and risk of health problems along with a decrease in profits. Stressing the animals is not desirable, but the concept of and measurement of stress must be viewed from the perspective of the animal using the scientific method.[6]

Some species of sea lice have been noted to target farmed coho and Atlantic salmon.[7] Such parasites have been shown to have an effect on nearby wild fish. One place that has garnered international media attention is British Columbia's Broughton Archipelago. There, juvenile wild salmon must "run a gauntlet" of large fish farms located off-shore near river outlets before making their way to sea. It is alleged that the farms cause such severe sea lice infestations that one study predicted a 99% collapse in the wild salmon population in another four years.[8] This claim, however, has been criticized by numerous scientists who question the correlation between increased fish farming and increases in sea lice infestation among wild salmon.[9]

Because of parasite problems, some aquaculture operators frequently use strong antibiotic drugs to keep the fish alive (but many fish still die prematurely at rates of up to 30 percent[10]). In some cases, these drugs have entered the environment. Additionally, the residual presence of these drugs in human food products has become controversial. Use of antibiotics in food production is thought to increase the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in human diseases.[11] At some facilities, the use of antibiotic drugs in aquaculture has decreased considerably due to vaccinations and other techniques.[12] However, most fish farming operations still use antibiotics, many of which escape into the surrounding environment.[13]

The lice and pathogen problems of the 1990s facilitated the development of current treatment methods for sea lice and pathogens. These developments reduced the stress from parasite/pathogen problems. However, being in an ocean environment, the transfer of disease organisms from the wild fish to the aquaculture fish is an ever-present risk.[14].

The very large number of fish kept long-term in a single location contributes to habitat destruction of the nearby areas. The high concentrations of fish produce a significant amount of condensed faeces, often contaminated with drugs, which again affect local waterways. However, these effects are very local to the actual fish farm site and are minimal to non-measurable in high current sites.

Other potential problems faced by aquaculturists are the obtaining of various permits and water-use rights, profitability, concerns about invasive species and genetic engineering depending on what species are involved, and interaction with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Indoor fish farming

An alternative to outdoor open ocean cage aquaculture, one in which the risk of environmental damage is high, is through the use of a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS). A RAS is a series of culture tanks and filters where water is continuously recycled and monitored to keep optimal conditions year round. To prevent the deterioration of water quality, the water is treated mechanically through the removal of particulate matter and biologically through the conversion of harmful accumulated chemicals into nontoxic ones.

Other treatments such as UV sterilization, ozonation, and oxygen injection are also used to maintain optimal water quality. Through this system, many of the environmental drawbacks of aquaculture are minimized including escaped fish, water usage, and the introduction of pollutants. The practices also increased feed-use efficiency growth by providing optimum water quality (Timmons et al., 2002; Piedrahita, 2003).

One of the drawbacks to recirculation aquaculture systems is water exchange. However, the rate of water exchange can be reduced through aquaponics, such as the incorporation of hydroponically grown plants (Corpron and Armstrong, 1983) and denitrification (Klas et al., 2006). Both methods reduce the amount of nitrate in the water, and can potentially eliminate the need for water exchanges, closing the aquaculture system from the environment. The amount of interaction between the aquaculture system and the environment can be measured through the cumulative feed burden (CFB kg/M3), which measures the amount of feed that goes into the RAS relative to the amount of water and waste discharged.

Because of its high capital and operating costs, RAS has generally been restricted to practices such as broodstock maturation, larval rearing, fingerling production, research animal production, SPF (specific pathogen free) animal production, and caviar and ornamental fish production. Although the use of RAS for other species is considered by many aquaculturalists to be impractical, there has been some limited successful implementation of this with high value product such as barramundi, sturgeon and live tilapia in the US.[15]


Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^ Weaver, D E (2006) Design and operations of fine media fluidized bed biofilters for meeting oligotrophic water requirements Aquacultural Engineering 34(3): 303-310.
  2. ^ Avnimelech Y, M Kochva, et al. (1994) Development of controlled intensive aquaculture systems with a limited water exchange and adjusted carbon to nitrogen ratio. Israeli Journal of Aquaculture Bamidgeh 46(3): 119-131.
  3. ^ Strategy for transfer of composite fish culture technology
  4. ^ Pond fish farming
  5. ^ “Fuss Over Farming Fish”, Alaska Science Forum, June 27, 1990
  6. ^ Journal of Fish Biology 68 (2): 332-372 February 2006
  7. ^ University of Maine, Department of Animal, Veterinary and Aquaculture Sciences, "Sea Lice Information".
  8. ^ Fish Farms Drive Wild Salmon Populations Toward Extinction
  9. ^ Northwest Fish Experts Debunk Controversial Sea Lice Study
  10. ^ Lymbery, P. CIWF Trust report, "In Too Deep - The Welfare of Intensively Farmed Fish" (2002)
  11. ^ Facts About Antibiotic Resistance
  12. ^ UNH Aquaculture website
  13. ^ "Chile’s Antibiotics Use on Salmon Farms Dwarfs That of a Top Rival’s". July 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  14. ^ Bulletin of the European Association of Fish Pathologists 22 (2): 117-125 2002
  15. ^ :[1][2] [3][4][5]

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PISCICULTURE (from Lat. piscis, fish). The species of fish which can be kept successfully in captivity throughout their lives from egg to adult is exceedingly limited in number. The various breeds of goldfish are familiar examples, but the carp is almost the only food-fish capable of similar domestication. Various other food-fishes, both marine and fresh-water, can be kept in ponds for longer or shorter periods, but refuse to breed, while in other cases the fry obtained from captive breeders will not develop. Consequently there are two main types of pisciculture to be distinguished: (1) the rearing in confinement of young fishes to an edible stage, and (2) the stocking of natural waters with eggs or fry from captured breeders.

xx1.21 a Fish-rearing. - Of the first type of pisciculture there are few examples of commercial importance. The pond-culture of carp is an important industry in China and Germany, and has been introduced with some success in the United States, but in England it has long fallen out of use, and is not likely to be revived so long as fresh fish can be obtained and distributed so readily as is now the case. Other examples are to be found in the cultivation of the lagoons of the Adriatic, and of the saltmarshes of various parts of France. Here, as in ancient Greece and Rome, it is the practice to admit young fish from the sea by sluices, into artificial enclosures or "viviers," and to keep them there until they are large enough to be used. An interesting modification of this method of cultivation has been introduced into Denmark. The entrances to the inner lagoons of the Limfjord are naturally blocked against the immigration of flatfish by dense growths of sea-grass (Zostera), although the outer lagoons are annually invaded by large numbers of small plaice from the North Sea. The fishermen of the district consequently combined to defray the expenses of transplanting large numbers of small plaice from the outer waters to the inner lagoons, where they were found to thrive far better than in their natural habitat. The explanation has been shown by Dr Petersen to be due to the abundance of food, coupled with the lack of overcrowding of the small fish. This transplantation of plaice in Denmark has been annually repeated for several years with the most successful results, and a suitable subvention to the cost is now an annual charge upon the government funds.

' As a result of the international North Sea fishery investigations, it has been proposed to extend the same principle for the development of the deep sea fishery in the neighbourhood of the Dogger Bank. Experiments with labelled plaice, carried out in 1904 by the Marine Biological Association, showed that small plaice transplanted to the Dogger Bank in spring grew three times as rapidly as those on the inshore grounds, and the same result, with insignificant variations, has been obtained by similar experiments in each succeeding year. In this case the deep water round the Dogger Bank acts as a barrier to the emigration of the small plaice from the shores. It has consequently been proposed that the small plaice should be transplanted in millions to the Bank by well vessels every spring. It is claimed, as a further result of the experiments, that from May to October the young fish would be practically free on the shallow part of the Bank from the risk of premature capture by trawlers, and that the increased value of the fish, consequent upon their phenomenal growth-rate, would greatly exceed the cost of transplantation.

The methods of oysterand mussel-culture are similar in principle to those just described. A breeding stock is maintained to supply the ground, or the "collectors," with spat, and the latter, when sufficiently grown, is then transplanted to the most favourable feeding-grounds, care being taken to avoid the local over-crowding which is so commonly observed among shell-fish under natural conditions.


The second, and more familiar, type of pisciculture is that known as fish-hatching, with which must be associated the various methods of artificial propagation.

The fertilization of the spawn is very easily effected. The eggs are collected either by "stripping" them from the mature adult immediately after capture, or by keeping the adults alive until they are ready to spawn, and then stripping them or by keeping them in reservoirs of sea-water and allowing them to spawn of their own accord. In the two former cases a little milt is allowed to fall from a male fish into a vessel containing a small quantity of water - fresh or salt as required - and the eggs are pressed from the female fish into the same vessel. In fresh-water culture the eggs thus fertilized may be at once distributed to the waters to be stocked, or they may be kept in special receptacles provided with a suitable stream of water until the fry are hatched, and then distributed, or again they may be reared in the hatchery for several months until the fry are active and hardy.

The hatching of eggs, whether of fresh-water or salt-water fishes, presents no serious difficulties, if suitable apparatus is employed; but the rearing of fry to an advanced stage, without serious losses, is less easy, and in the case of sea-fishes with pelagic eggs, the larvae of which are exceedingly small and tender, is still an unsolved problem, although recent work, carried out at the Plymouth laboratory of the Marine Biological Association, is at least promising. It has been found possible to grow pure cultures of various diatoms, and by feeding these to delicate larvae kept in sterilized sea-water, great successes have been attained. In fresh-water culture little advantage, if any, has been found to result from artificial hatching, unless this is followed by a successful period of rearing. Thus the Howietown Fishery Company recommend their customers to stock their streams either with unhatched ova or with threemonth-old fry. Their experience is "that there is no half-way house between ova sown in redds and three-month-old fry. Younger fry may do, but only where ova would do as well, and at half the cost." In marine hatcheries, on the other hand, it is the invariable practice to hatch the eggs, although the fry have to be put into the sea at the most critical period of their lives. If it is a risky matter to plant out the robust young fry of trout under an age of three months, it would seem to be an infinitely more speculative proceeding to plant out the delicate week-old larvae of sea-fishes in an environment which teems with predaceous enemies.

Objects and Utility of Fish-hatcheries

The earlier advocates of artificial propagation and fish-hatching seem to have been under the impression that the thousands of fry resulting from a single act of artificial propagation meant a corresponding increase in the numbers of edible fish when once they had been deposited in suitable waters; and also that artificial fertilization ensured a greater proportion of fertilized eggs than the natural process. For the second of these propositions there is no evidence, while the first proposition is now everywhere discredited. It is recognized that the great fertility of fishes is nature's provision to meet a high mortality - greater in sea-fishes with minute pelagic eggs than in fresh-water fishes with larger-yolked eggs, partly because of the greater risks of marine pelagic life, and partly because of the greater delicacy of marine larvae at the time of hatching. Artificially propagated eggs and fry after planting must submit to the same mortality as the other eggs and fry around them. Consequently it is useless to plant out eggs or fry unless in numbers sufficiently great to appreciably increase the stock of eggs and fry already existing.

It is this, combined always with the suitability of the ex- ternal conditions, which accounts for the success of the best known experiments of American pisciculturists. The artificially propagated eggs of the shad from the eastern rivers of the United States were planted in those of California and the Mississippi, where the species did not naturally occur. The conditions were suitable, and the species became at once acclimatized. Similarly reservoirs and streams can be stocked with various kinds of fish not previously present. But in the case of indigenous species the breeding stock must be very seriously reduced before the addition of the eggs or fry of a few score or hundreds of fish can appreciably increase the local stock.

In the case of sea-fishes it is becoming increasingly recognized that the millions of cod fry which are annually turned out of the American, Newfoundland and Norwegian hatcheries are but an insignificant fraction of the billions of fry which are naturally produced. A single female cod liberates, according to its size, from one to five million eggs in a single season. Yet the annual output of fry from each of these hatcheries rarely exceeds zoo millions, i.e. the natural product of a few hundred cod at most. In Britain marine hatcheries have been established by the Fishery Board for Scotland in the bay of Nigg, near Aberdeen, by the Lancashire Sea Fisheries Committee at Peel, and by the government of the Isle of Man at Port Erin. These establishments have been principally devoted to the hatching of the eggs of plaice. But again the maximum output of fry from any one of these establishments has not exceeded 40 millions in any single year. As a single female plaice produces about 200,000 eggs per annum, this output does not exceed the natural produce of a few hundred fish. Under these circumstances the probable utility of the operations could be admitted only if the fry were sedentary and could be planted in suitable localities where young fish were naturally scarce. But the fry drift with the currents as helplessly as the eggs, and the a priori objections to the utility of the operations have in no case been met by evidence of tangible results. The plaice fry hatched in the Scottish establishment have been distributed for many years in the waters of Loch Fyne. Yet in this area, according to the investigations of Mr Williamson (Report of the Scottish Fishery Board for 1898), nearly 500 millions of plaice eggs are naturally produced in one spawning season. Evidence is still lacking as to whether the 20 to 30 million fry annually added from the hatchery have appreciably increased the quantities of young plaice on the surrounding shores. Supposing this could be established, the question would still remain whether the same result could not be obtained at far less expense by dispensing with the hatching operations and distributing the eggs directly after fertilization.

In the United States the utility of the cod-hatching operations has been constantly asserted by representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries, but practically the only evidence adduced is the occasional appearance of unusual numbers of cod in the neighbourhood. It has not been established that the fluctuations in the local cod fisheries bear any fixed relation to the extent of the hatching operations, while the earlier reports of the Commissioners of Fisheries contain evidence that similar fluctuations occurred before the hatching of "fish commission cod" had begun.

The situation may be summed up in the words of Mr Fryer, H.M. Superintending Inspector of Fisheries, who critically examined the evidence bearing upon the operations of the Newfoundland Hatchery at Dildo (Reports x. - xii. of the Inspectors of Sea Fisheries, E. & W.): "Where the establishment of a hatchery, even on the smallest scale, is followed by an increased take of fish, there is a tendency to connect the two as cause and effect on insufficient evidence, and without any regard to the many conditions which have always led to fluctuations in the case of any particular kind of fish." The most exact investigations bearing upon this problem are those which have been recently undertaken in Norway in connexion with the cod-hatching operations at Arendal under Captain Dannevig. Four fjords were selected in the south coast of Norway in proximity to the hatchery, and the usual number of fry (10-30 millions) were planted in the spring in alternate fjords, leaving the intermediate fjords unsupplied. The relative number of young cod in the various fjords was then carefully investigated throughout the succeeding summer and autumn months. It was found that there was no relation between the abundance of young fish and the presence or absence of "artificial" fry. In 1904, 33 million fry were planted in Sondelefjord and young fish were exceptionally abundant in the following autumn (three times as abundant as in 1903 when no fry were planted). But their abundance was equally striking in other fjords in which no fry had been planted, while in 1905 all the fjords were deficient in young cod whether they had been planted with fry from the hatchery or not.

For a summary of these investigations see papers on "Artificial Fish-hatching in Norway," by Captain Dannevig and Mr Dahl, in the Report of the Lancashire Sea Fisheries Laboratory for 1906 (Liverpool, 1907). It would thus seem clear that the attempts hitherto made to increase the supply of sea-fish by artificial hatching have been unsuccessful. The experience gained has doubtless not been wasted, but the direction to be taken by future work is plain. The energy and money devoted to hatching operations should be diverted to the serious attempt to discover a means of rearing on a large scale the just-hatched fry of the more sedentary species to a sturdy adolescence. When that has been done (it has been achieved by the present writer in the case of the sea fish Cottus with demersal eggs,) it would be possible to deposit the young fish in suitable localities on a large scale, with a reasonable prospect of influencing the local abundance of the s p ecies of fish in question.

For further details, see J. T. Cunningham, Natural History of the Marketable Marine Fishes of the British Islands (London, 1896); A Manual of Fish-Culture (Washington, 1897); Roche, La Culture des mess (Paris, 1898); W. Garstang, Experiments on the Transplantation of Marked Plaice (First Report of the North Sea Fisheries Investigation Committee, 1905). (W. GA.)

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