While aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of animal agriculture, sustainable expansion and intensification is hampered by issues related to aquatic animal health.
That’s why Alan Wilson, professor and assistant director for instruction at Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, is focusing on developing programs to help the aquaculture industry better manage problematic algae growth in ponds and other water sources.
According to an article written by Mitch Emmons at Auburn University, Wilson is partnering with the Aquatic Animal Research Unit of USDA’s-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to conduct research involving catfish growers in west Alabama.
Wilson said they are focusing on projects involving 21 ponds across five catfish farms to help growers establish best management practices for water quality.
He says algal blooms can be a normal occurrence in ponds with elevated nutrients, but there is an urgent need to manage water quality in aquaculture ponds that favors beneficial algal communities versus those that can be harmful to the fish.
According to USDA-ARS, since 2015 in Alabama alone, mortality levels attributed to harmful algal blooms have surged to nearly 1 million pounds of catfish annually.
While Wilson’s current project focuses largely on catfish growers, his lab is broadly interested in understanding the ecology of freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs.