Aquaculture has been shown to be a viable alternative agricultural enterprise in parts of North Carolina where water supplies are abundant. But what about parts of the state where water supplies are limited? Since 1989, Dr. Tom Losordo and other North Carolina State University researchers have been working to develop technology for intensive fish production indoors with limited water supplies. The North Carolina Fish Barn program combines water treatment components from around the world to allow for production of freshwater and marine fin-fish in tanks with very little water usage. This project has provided non-biased, timely information on recirculating aquaculture technology to thousands of interested citizens in North Carolina and across the United States. From its inception, this project was unique within the United States. It is now being emulated in other land-grant universities.
This College of Agriculture and Life Sciences program provides design and development services to the agribusiness community. The Fish Barn program assisted Southern Farm Tilapia in designing and establishing a hatchery, nursery, and two tilapia production facilities. Production capacity of these facilities is three quarters of a million pounds per year. In addition, Southern Farm Tilapia has developed a 15,000 square feet processing and refrigerated storage facility. Most recently, the Fish Barn program has assisted Deca J Farms with diversification of an existing swine production business into aquaculture. Deca J Farms has built a state-of-the-art hatchery, nursery and Phase I growout facility for the production of yellow perch. When Phase II is completed in 2004, the facility will have the capacity to produce over a million yellow perch annually. Additionally, the Fish Barn program is supporting, with onsite technical assistance, seven other tilapia production fish barns in North Carolina. These producers have production contracts with Southern States Cooperative of Richmond, Va. These contracted tilapia facilities have the capacity to produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of fresh fish annually.