Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stocking steelhead trout for aquaculture

Local fishermen are once again working with UNH professor of zoology Hunt Howell and NHSG/UNHCE aquaculture specialist Michael Chambers to raise steelhead trout in offshore cages. Last year's efforts were extremely successful, yielding fillets that were in high demand at local fish markets. The fishermen that helped out by feeding the fish and maintaining the nets received some of the profits last December, helping to keep them going amidst economic challenges that the fleet is facing. Howell and Chambers are once again leading these efforts for the 2013 field season with the help of lead fisherman Erik Anderson.

Three N.H. fishermen--Bill Marconi, his son Will and brother Vinny--recently helped to stock 300, 2/3-lb. trout in the fish pens just off the coast from Fort Constitution in New Castle. Mike from Sumner Brook Fish Farm in Ossipee, N.H., delivered the fish to the UNH pier.

Will lowered the fish to Bill and Vinny on the boat deck where the trout were placed in aerated tanks.

There were two pens waiting for the fish just around the corner from the pier. The trout were placed into one pen and covered with a net to prevent predation by birds.

Approximately eight local fishermen--many of the same individuals who helped with the project last year--will feed the fish and clean the nets again this year for harvest later in the fall.

Another 800, 1/3 lb. trout were temporarily stocked into a cage in the warmer waters of Great Bay at the UNH Jackson Estuarine Lab. Chambers is trying to determine the best weight and acclimation period at which to stock. The larger trout cost more to purchase from the fish farm, but the smaller fish will require more food to reach market weight. Chambers will run the calculations based on their growth this year and decide how to proceed in future years. 

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