Introduction: In the last 20 years, aquaculture production has increased to the point that over half of seafood consumed today is farm raised. In fact, 2013 was the first year that more fish was produced globally than beef. Meanwhile, US aquaculture accounts for less than 1% of world production and the majority of consumers are unaware that 91% of seafood in the US is imported. Half of this is now produced overseas on farms that operate with little regulatory oversight or enforcement. Despite the changing nature of seafood origins, Institutes of higher education are not adding aquaculture course or curriculum within relevant programs. Not only would students of fisheries and agricultural studies benefit from at least one overarching course in aquaculture, but also students in environmental and food policy tracts. Comparative Aquaculture Sustainability (CAS) was conceived for these students as a comprehensive and multi-perspective look at global aquaculture and issues pertinent to its sustainable incorporation into 21st century food production.
Instructor: Dr. James Webb is a graduate of the University of Tasmania’s School of Aquaculture (Australia) and works specifically on aquaculture industry development in both the US and abroad.
Instructors email: email@example.com
Course Organization: The course is divided into 6+ weeks and comprised of 3 main units. The first week is the shortest unit and provides an introductory, yet all-encompassing, look at the emerging field of aquaculture while also exploring key concepts in sustainability. Weeks 2, 3, and the first half of 4 comprise then delve into concepts in Species selection for aquaculture and the subsequent impacts on sustainability. The second half of week 4, and all of 5 and 6 then explore System selection for aquaculture and the subsequent effects on sustainability. Each week is further divided into 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of workshop.
The workshops then lead into two take home assignments per week (12 assignments x 4% each = 48%), each of which requires approximately 1-2 hours to complete. In week 4 there is a multiple choice/short answer test covering topics in Species selection (16%). In week 6 there is a multiple choice/short answer test covering topics in System selection (16%). In the final week, there is a take-home, open note assignment in which students write a 1000-1500 word essay arguing the culture of X fish species in Y system is the most sustainable strategy for ensuring fish production in the future (20%).
All assignments are due within 7 days of being issued. Assignments submitted after the due date, but before the cut-off date are listed as “late” and incur an instant penalty of 20%. Assignments cannot be submitted after the cut-off date and are listed as “missed”. The cut-off date for all assignments is exactly 7 days from the due date.
Approach: Sustainability is a key concern for any new industry, especially one that is already an essential component of global food security. Of course, sustainability can be a subjective measure, and in addition to frequently being assessed in terms of social, environmental, and economic effects; how sustainability is defined varies – especially in relation to the socio-economic status of a nation. Given aquacultures rapid rise throughout much of the world, this latter aspect of sustainability is given particular attention throughout CAS. In addition to providing a global perspective, aquaculture in the US and Uganda will be presented as geographic case studies. Aquaculture development has been slow in both countries despite considerable potential (US = markets, technology, and capital; Uganda = environment, labor, and favorable regulations). CAS faculty draw from their experiences in both regions to explore the impediments and opportunities to further aquaculture development.
Week 1 – Introduction to aquaculture and sustainability
- Workshop/assignment 0: Ungraded quiz of aquaculture knowledge (0%)
- Lecture 1: Introduction to aquaculture: Aquaculture’s rise and global trends in production
- Workshop/assignment 1: Gathering global production and value statistics for commonly cultured fish 4%)
- Lecture 2: A review of cultivated species: Algae, to mollusks, to crustaceans, to finfish
- Workshop/assignment 2: Gauging the amenability-to-culture for commonly culture fish (4%)
Week 2 – Species selection Part I
- Lecture 3: Topics in finfish reproduction
- Workshop/assignment 3: Exploring broodstock age, size, and fecundity for commonly cultured fish (4%)
- Lecture 4: Topics in larval rearing
- Workshop/assignment 4: Relationships between egg size, water temperature, and larval stage duration in commonly cultured fish (4%)
Week 3 – Species selection Part II
- Lecture 5: Topic in grow-out: Managing fish growth and feeding
- Workshop/assignment 5: Growth and bio-energetic modeling for commonly cultured fish (4%)
- Lecture 6: Fish nutrition and species selection: Carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores
- Workshop/assignment 6: Least cost feed formulation for commonly cultured fish (4%)
Week 4 – Species selection Part III/System selection Part I
- Lecture 7: From culture to plate: Harvesting, processing, and marketing of cultured fish
- Workshop/assignment 7: Exploring relationships between size, condition factor, fillet yield, and nutrition in commonly cultured fish (4%)
- Species selection multiple choice test (16%) – 1 hour exam covering concept in species and system selection and how they relate to aquaculture sustainability
- Lecture 8: Aquaculture systems: An evolutionary perspective on their development and operation
- Workshop/assignment 8: Resource foot printing of diets for sustainably cultured fish
Week 5 – System selection Part II
- Lecture 9: A tale of two pond systems: Chinese carp and American catfish production
- Workshop/assignment 9: Resource foot printing of sustainably cultured fish in ponds (4%)
- Lecture 10: Cage systems: Near-shore controversies and offshore realities
- Workshop/assignment 10: Resource foot printing of sustainably cultured fish in cages (4%)
Week 6 – System selection Part III
- Lecture 11: Recirculating aquaculture systems: Is environmental problem shifting aquaculture’s solution to pollution
- Workshop assignment 11: Resource foot printing of sustainably cultured fish in recirculating systems (4%)
- Lecture 12: Aquaponics: A worthy endeavor, a Rube Goldberg device, or a dreamer’s fantasy
- Workshop assignment 12: Resource foot printing of sustainably cultured fish in aquaponics systems (4%)
- System selection multiple choice test (16%) – 1 hour exam covering concept in species and system selection and how they relate to aquaculture sustainability
Week 6+ – Finishing up
- Lecture 13: Synopsis of species and system selection: pathways to greater sustainability
- Final exam take home essay (20%) – Open note written assignment in which students have 24 hours to write a 1000-1500 word essay arguing the culture of X fish species in Y system is the most sustainable strategy for ensuring fish production in the future.
Technology: According to UMass Online, in order to take this course you must:
- have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows)
- be familiar with basic computer skills
- be connected to the internet
- have an e-mail program and account
- have at least a 56 kbps modem
- have a Java capable browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer)
NOTE: If you have any problems with technology, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help.
This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program. To register for upcoming classes, see UMass Online. Most classes cost $371/credit. If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.