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Conch Crops and Fish Farms

At Harbor branch Oceanographic Institution, they're teaching techniques that will provide jobs and food for Florida and the world.

The next time you are sampling the joys of fresh seafood you might consider how aquaculturists at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI) are helping to guarantee the quality of the ingredients. Thirty percent of the salmon and shrimp you eat, 50 percent of the clams and 100 percent of the tilapia, catfish and trout are farm-raised using some of the techniques taught at HBOI.

Clam farming alone accounts for a $12 million-a-year industry in FLorida. "What began 17 years ago as a business with a very different appraoch to HBOI methods is now, with our help, a $100 million industry in Florida," says Dr. Megan Davis-Hodgkins, assistant director of HBOI's Aquaculture Division. "Aquaculture process a healthy, disease-free product and guarantees a reliable harvest."

Among the most popular fish grown using the HBOI techniques are tilapia, flounder, hybrid striped bass, catfish, trout, salmon, oysters, clams and shrimp. Alligator, eel, aquarium plants and tropical fish for fish tanks are also grown. Davis-Hodgkins became interested in aquaculture 25 years ago while cursing the Bahamas with her family. She noticed the diminishing stock of Queen Conch and established a conch nursery in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ten years later she finished her graduate work and signed on with Harbor Branch. 

Read the entire article in the September 2001 issue