Discover Florida Aquaculture
|March 16, 2009||Posted by admin under Behind the Scenes, Farms, Seafood|
A few weeks ago, videographers Rick Lurding and Richard Hill and I took a road trip to get some live film footage for a Florida educational aquaculture video. What a trip! We got to see firsthand three of Florida’s aquaculture companies in action and got a glimpse of just what it takes to run these operations.
A simple definition of aquaculture is the science of “farming in water.” It is one of the fastest growing agricultural endeavors in the world. It includes the production of fish (marine and freshwater), shellfish, ornamental fish and aquatic plants for aquariums and outdoor ponds in a water environment. The science of aquaculture also applies to farm-raising alligators and turtles. In 2007, Florida had 469 aquaculture farms that reported income of $61.9 million. The farming facilities are licensed by the State of Florida and must follow strict guidelines known as Best Management Practices specific to their products.
Back to the road trip…our first stop was Blue Heron Aqua Farms in Florida City where they farm hybrid striped bass or as they refer to them “Everglades Striped Bass”. They grow these fish from tiny young fish called fingerlings to market size, about 1.5 to 2 pounds, in rectangular containers called raceways and in outdoor tanks. This is a 24/7 operation. We were amazed at the amount of work it takes each day to inspect for health issues, feed, harvest and clean the tanks.
Second stop…Florida Aquatic Nurseries in Fort Lauderdale. They produce more than 400 varieties of beautiful water lilies, green, variegated and colorful aquarium plants and flowering and non-flowering outdoor pond and garden plants. It was hard to pick a favorite but I sure did like the water lilies.
The last stop was Gatorama in Palmdale. Gatorama is a combination alligator farm and tourist attraction that has been in the family for decades. In Florida, alligators have been raised in controlled conditions on farms since 1986. To protect the species in the wild, farms were established to raise alligators for harvesting while allowing the wild population to increase. It was quite an experience seeing the young alligators eat breakfast in their own special grow-out houses.
The “Discover Florida Aquaculture” video and companion booklet will be available on our website, www.FL-Seafood.com, in May.