VOLUME 2 ISSUE 1 The Voice of New Hampshire Fish Farmers   WINTER 2002          

Winter Aquaculture Activities

        Planning for next summer's fish raising should be starting now, while ice covers your ponds and the days are short. Waiting till warm weather to do your business planning, acquire your equipment, and arrange for your fish deliveries will greatly reduce your productive season, which we all know passes too quickly here in the Northeast.

One great way to get the momentum started is to attend NHAA's winter functions, meeting with other fish growers, both experienced and beginners, to exchange ideas and benefit from the experiences, good and not-so-good of our members. Farmer to farmer communication reduces the learning curve and is one of the greatest benefits of association membership.

        First on the calendar is the Farm and Forest Exposition held Feb. 1 and 2 at the Center of NH Holiday Inn in Manchester. This year NHAA is hosting a double booth which will include a complete recirculating system, thanks to our friends at the Manchester technical college campus. We are seeking a wide variety of species for smaller aquariums, which are always surrounded by the youngsters attending, as well as their curious parents. Let us know if you can loan us a few creatures for the weekend. How many of our readers had their first exposure to aquaculture at this event in past years? This is your opportunity to return the favor to others interested in getting started with fish.

        We need assistance in setting up the display on Thursday, Jan. 31, in the afternoon, and in working in the booth Friday and Saturday. The biggest job is breaking down the display at closing time. If you can help, even an hour or two, please contact Melvin at 464-3700 or Debbie at 464-3301. Don't feel that you aren't experienced enough to meet people at the booth. Your enthusiasm will get you through.

        Be sure to set aside Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 for our annual presentation. We will be hosting guest speakers, including New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor. This forum is a great opportunity to learn something new and exchange information about what's happening in our field.

        Exactly one month later, on March 2, NHAA invites you to join other members in our first annual Pot Luck Lunch and Annual Meeting. Mark your calendar now. Further information about this get-together and workshop opportunity will be arriving by mail as we get closer to the date. If you are not a member (and why not?) contact Debbie to be sure you receive the details. To join NHAA click here.

       Debbie Gile

Greetings from the President's Desk

        As we grow in numbers, maintain public exposure and continue to fulfill a quota of goals, let us not forget the true essence of this association and the network of opportunity it has to offer.

        I have attended numerous workshops, conferences, expos and summits in various locations. The materials, instruction and seminar presentations have all provided reward and I've found the time taken to be well worthwhile. These experiences are available, in many applications to those of us interested and willing to participate.

        The tangible educational aspect of any given occasion spoken of, has great credibility and much to offer. The participation challenges one to achieve personal and professional achievement. However, the element that provides equal or even ultimate fulfillment is that of the relationships developed amongst fellow workshop participants. The interpersonal interaction and sharing of experiences has value greater than any textbook tack. In community, as in aquaculture, it is important to embrace all that we know and to share all that we have learned throughout our lives both professionally and personally. We are social and experiential as a human species and when we gather as community, we all have much to give of ourselves.

        Since September 11, many of us have felt an inner calling in one degree or another. In the realm of farming and in the wake of the attacks, consider our efforts in the localization of food production a granted opportunity. In the present day and age, I believe a focus towards regionalism in our agricultural system, greater awareness in our consumerism, and an outreach to community to have positive, monumental effects towards our sustenance. After all, it is food, shelter, water, energy and family that provide the essence of life. In this notion and as an aquaculture community, we have much to offer, demonstrate, and enact upon, and in so doing, we present a complementary vision towards humanity.

        Thank-you all in the NHAA and in the aquaculture and agriculture communities for being involved and passionate about your work.

       Greg Bossart

Notes from the Program Director

Dispelling Myths

        Changing the public's perception of the NHAA is an ongoing struggle for our assembly. Some in the public and agencies that encounter NHAA see our assembly as a social club for fish farmers. Our attempts to alter this perception have taken valuable time and the utilization of the meager resources available to us.

        In 1998, we began a programmatic effort designed to make the public aware of the existence and mission of NHAA. The first phase of the effort was the establishment of a hard-core volunteer base within the NHAA., followed by the gathering of resources, both human and material.

        In the second phase, outreach and public demonstrations found us at fairs, schools, farmer's markets, meetings and farm shows. Along with this effort we have published educational and informational pamphlets and this dynamic newspaper. We have given free, to the public, workshops and tours, open farm days and donations of our crops.

        In phase three, we established our administrative structure, tool lending library, received our federal tax exemption and regional recognition as the representative voice for Aquaculture in New Hampshire. We have worked very hard with good success in overcoming the social club stereotype.

        Today, many agencies of government, private organizations, businesses, colleges, universities and individuals have agreed, and are working with us in coalition towards the establishment of an Aquaculture future for New Hampshire.

       Melvin Murrel

Extension Export

J-J Newman
LTNH Cooperative Extension
jj.newman@unh.edu or 603-749-1565

        Hi folks! Once again, the recent Aquaculture "Down Cellar" workshop held at UNH's Kingman Farm was a great success. As always, the evaluations indicated that everyone enjoyed the program, with the majority of participants stating that they learned"a lot". Six of these workshops on raising fish in small, indoor systems have been offered in the last two years, with a total of 105 participants. This is a basic, beginning-level program designed for three audiences - those who want to learn how to grow fish without a big investment, those who just want to raise a small number of fish for their families, and teachers who want to use small-scale aquaculture systems in their classrooms. If you are interested in being on the mailing list for notice of future workshops, just let me know.

        On another note, I have been appointed the chair of the program planning committee for the next Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition. This conference will be held in Warwick, Rhode Island in December 2002. 1 am looking for any and all suggestions as to the topics and speakers you would like to see there. We are at the beginning of planning the program, so we can pretty much do whatever we want. The overall conference committee includes many more people than in the past, and many of them share our goal of making the event cheaper so that more people can attend. Hopefully, we will end up with a conference that will be both interesting and inexpensive enough to go to!

Farm Profiles

Our First Salmon Farm

        A long, long time ago (22 years ago) a NH man was visiting Scotland, he held a great interest in the Loch Ness Monster. He spent a good portion of his life hunting Nessy. It made sense, as he was also the inventor of sonar (which he gave to the U.S. Military) He used his invention to try and track his wary prey. His name was Robert Rines, of Concord NH. That's right the Patent Lawyer, Concert Pianist, Founder of Franklin Pierce College, Applied Academy of Science and probably the # 1 hunter of Nessy. I'm sure I don't know about half his ventures, except this one.

        When he was in Scotland searching for Nessy with a man namedAlbert Knowells, they happened upon a floating salmon net pen. Never seeing one before, Mr. Rines inquired what it could be. After it was explained to him Mr. Rines said, "if anything works, it would work best in the U.S". When he arrived home he contacted the Federal Hatchery (Bernie Dennison) and inquired about a suitable site to start his new venture, the first salmon farm in our country. It was to be called New England Fish Farm Enterprise, or commonly known as NEFFE.

        The site used to be an old industrial park, and was purchased from International Packing Company in Bristol, for the sum of $10.00. For a couple of years they also leased Sumner Brook Fish Farm, from the town of Ossipee. It is a raceway facility that once was operated by New Hampshire Fish and Game.

        There was a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes to be made. The company started out raising Landlocked Salmon. This later lead to the raising of Coho Salmon, Scottish Land Catch, Norwegian Salmon, Saint John Strain and Penobscott Salmon. They tried them all and now they are sticking with the St. Johns strain. In the beginning a 40 to 50-gram fish was an achievement, now a 150 gram fish is not uncommon, but a 100 gram fish is the most desirable size. The bigger they are when they reach their ocean destiny, the better they do, but too big fish require more transport trips. The Bristol site used round shaped tanks to raise their fish, which was probably another first in our country.

        A Smolt is the final product at the farm. It is the stage of a salmon's life when the fish goes through biological changes that enable it to accept the change to salt water during its maturity. They started with about 40k fish, compared to roughly 350,000 of them today. This effort is done with the skills of 4 men. The farm is a gravity fed site, with the capability of flowing an impressive 4,000 gallons a minute! (All except this past summer of course.)

        The water comes out of the pristine Newfound River, which is almost as clear as air. There isn't a need to filter the water as it's so clear they just run it through UV filters.

        At one time broodstock were kept on the farm and many eggs were sold and donated to the state. It is believed that if parents of the egg live in saltwater, that when the smolt arrives to saltwater, they grow better. So in other words, Landlocked Salmon young didn't do well in saltwater. So the broodstock now are held in the cages on the ocean, in the Bay of Fundy. This also enabled the Bristol farm to hold another 100k smolts, which were more profitable than the eggs.

        They hold their fish at a density of 50 fish per cu. ft. and hope to increase that figure to 100 per cu., a proven way to expand your farm without adding a tank. It is now a very established site and every year they raise a very healthy crop. When the fish are ready, usually in April they get shipped to the Bay of Fundy, to the floating net pens on the ocean where they mature to a marketable fish.

        Over the years the farm went through many changes and owners, a pretty impressive list. Bob Rines later joined forces with the famous Scotsman, Simon Frazer. After Mr. Frazer's death, shares were sold to a group that called themselves D. E. Salmon. This group included names like Steven Swartz and Bernie Dennison, two well-known salmon farmers from ME. The farm was then sold to Arthur Neilson the major shareholder of Nordic Enterprise, a Norwegian Salmon Company that also owns farms in Canada and ME. He bought it separate from Nordic Enterprises as an investment. He then sold it to Stolt Sea Farm, a large international company. The site investor at the Sumner Brook facility in Ossipee was the late Gordon Pope of Ossipee N.H. This list represented strong backing, very knowledgeable, and well-rounded individuals, one that represented success. This farming effort and this site have certainly demonstrated successful aquaculture in our state of NH. What started out as a dream has turned into a very viable venture.

       Keith W. Bruning

Hydroponics - Another Aspect of Aquaculture

        Making productive use of the nutrients in our fish raising systems is a way to get more "bang for our buck", something that can make or break the finances of a beginning enterprise. Turning fish waste into plant food produces quality plants and helps to clean the water. However there is a learning curve to raising plants without soil, just as there is in learning to raise fish, so a little experimentation is a good way to start.

        A few summers ago, I set up a system on my deck and raised wonderful flowers, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. In spite of a serious drought and very high temperatures, my harvest was bountiful and my deck always looked lush with foliage and color. Even a late start getting things planted, as I worked out the system and fixed leaks, did not prevent good results.

        If this interests you, why wait for next summer? Buy two plastic containers that will nest inside one another, while leaving a couple inches of "dead space" from the bottom of one to the other. In the upper box, drill a few 3/8 inch holes and feed through narrow lengths of polyester fabric to serve as wicks for the solution. Fill the upper box with perlite and plant with perhaps a few lettuce seeds or herb plants from a good nursery. If using plants, carefully wash all soil off the roots and replant gently in the perlite.

        Use some good quality plant food mixed in the water and pour it in slowly. The excess solution will drain into the reservoir between the boxes and keep the system properly damp. Do not add so much that liquid rises into the upper box. Good air flow is needed to keep the roots healthy. Add more solution as needed and keep the box in light appropriate to the type of plants. Enjoy your easy to care for winter garden. Since the plants do not have to struggle to find needed nutrients, more energy goes to growth. Soil borne disease is eliminated, as well as many pest problems. Next summer may see you expanding to bigger and better hydroponic systems.

       Debbie Gile

Fishfull Thinking
Want To Grow Fish This Coming Spring?

        Well, that means plenty of involvement this winter. There's plenty of planning to do.

        The first plan needs to be a business plan; a clear picture of what your goals are. Even if you're the only one involved, you owe it to yourself to have a master plan, without it success will be doubtful. Any venture involving money is a business venture and requires sure-footed planning.

        Make sure that you will have enough money to accomplish your goal. Once the fish are in the water, it's too late to turn back.Watch out for all the hidden cost. There are deposits on electric, changing feed prices, breakdowns, extra cost due to the unseen, caused by the lack of experience.

        Pick a species that comes recommended or one with extensive research done by larger farms or universities. Make sure there is a strong market for your product and that you have them sold before you even start. You wouldn't want to get stuck with them at the end or take less than they are worth? Do everything right; get your proper permits, to dig, to grow, to trap, etc., anyone of these reasons would be shortsighted and result in failure.

        Contact JJ Newman at the County Extension Service and NHAA for insight and direction. Talk to fish farmers, they have good hands on experience. If you're just growing for fun or for your table, a little research will still ensure success, keeping it interesting, and probably on going.

        Remember there are probably no get rich over night businesses out there, certainly aquaculture is not one of them. Be certain you make sure-footed steps, calling on experienced people.

        Aquaculture is about keeping records, being organized, being devoted, and a slow moneymaker. It is done for love of labor and the field itself. Much of the time it's enjoyable work, with small rewards in comparison. Believe it or not, I am not trying to discourage anyone. In fact I'm trying to encourage you to do it, but do it right. It's fun, but not easy. Plan now for your spring ventures.


The Dumb Ones - don't learn from their mistakes.
The Smart Ones - do learn from their mistakes.
The Wise Ones - learn from others mistakes.

       Keith W. Bruning


by Bob Fawcett (NH Dept. Fish and Game)


Caused by Orthomyxovirus
(ISA virus)

EXOTIC = NOT FOUND IN USA UNTIL The first case was reported in Maine on February 15, 2001

        First detected in Norway in 1984, and has always been managed by eradication. [Norway, Scotland and Canada] In Canada the disease was present as early as June of 1996, not identified as ISA virus until September 1997. 1999 it raged through the salmon aquaculture industry causing nearly $20 million in slowed growth and fish deaths that year alone.

        Mortality is variable; mean mortality has been 12% over a 60-day period, but has been as high as 3% per day in some cases.

        Transmission occurs from fish to fish by contact with infected fish, with parts from infected fish (including mucus, blood, feces, viscera, trimmings, muscle), or with equipment contaminated with parts from infected fish.

        Industry has been reliant on disinffection protocols, husbandry practices and eradication to control the spread of disease. Canadians began vaccinating smolts with autogenous vaccine in the winter of 1998.

        AUTOGENOUS vaccine - for the ISA virus from the herd of origin in Bay of Fundy - must be prepared from cultures of microorganisms,which have been inactivated and are nontoxic. Use by or under the direction of a veterinarian under a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, after product license from the Center for Veterinary Biologics, and the state veterinarian

        MULTIVALENT vaccine - for the ISA virus found in Scotland etc. The vaccine must be administered and be working to maximum efficiency before the young salmon leave the hatchery for their sea cages.

        USDA licenses all vaccines under the ěSerum Biologics Actî. There are issues: What if fish are vaccinated outside the USA to be imported, the vaccine used was approved by the other country but is not approved for use in the USA? [The latest example of that is vaccination for ISA-virus in Canada or Scotland.]

        Who is responsible for what? USDA is concerned with animal products, commerce, and business (import and export) and risk to businesses. They respond to alerts about, or history of, disease outbreaks when they occur, and in what country, region, or zone. US FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE is concerned with risk and protection of wild critters and the environment (import only). Their approach is more pro-active in not approving import unless certain testing is done: on salmonids = certifying specific pathogen free status, and other wild animals, and

        specific products under ěTitle-50î. The state fish and wildlife agencies are concerned with risk and protection of wild critters and the environment. Intrastate movement of fish is regulated by the state agencies. Inter-state movement is currently regulated by state agencies, but might be regulated by USDA? There are already programs in place. The aquaculture industry is looking for an improved business climate, indemnification for loss if infection, and disease out break occurs, and a variety of other benefits. They want the definition of ělivestockî to include finfish.


Tips For Grilling Fish

        Could you please provide some basic tips for grilling fish (e.g. what are the best fish to grill, how many minutes per side, etc.)

        With a little practice, you can grill most fishes. The ones which we see most often grilled are the steaking fishes such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, shark and there are others as well. These fishes will stay together when grilled. The steaking fishes can be cut to desired thickness. A thicker cut portion will not dry out as fast as a thinly cut portion. Many people prefer their grilled fish to be cooked on the rare side. This is very common with tuna steaks.

        Here is a rule of thumb for fish steaks. A one inch steak is cooked for 10 minutes. That is 5 minutes on each side. This will give you a well-cooked fish. For a fish that is to be cooked medium rare, decrease the cooking time on each side.

        Answer by Stoney Bower


  • Work with fish that is easy to handle, such as swordfish, tuna, shark, halibut, or salmon steaks.
  • Clean and oil your grill rack. Fish won't stick as readily to a clean rack.
  • Be sure the grill rack is very hot before laying the fish on lit. A hot rack sears and seals, forming a crust.
  • Give that crust plenty of time to form. Poking and turning fish shortly after it goes on the rack is a sure way of tearing delicate fillets or even hearty steaks. Allow at least 2 minutes of uninterrupted grilling.
  • Buy the biggest spatula you can find, preferable one with a bent or 'offset' handle. The larger the spatula, the more reliably the fish can be turned.
  •         The above tips are taken from the book "The Southwestern Grill: 200 Terrific Recipes for Big and Bold Backyard Barbecue" The author is Michael McLaughlin


North Region Aquaculture Center

and the Future of the Northeastern Aquaculture Industry
Tomas Vergel C. Jamir, Ph.D.
Executive Director Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center

        During the last NHAA annual picnic, I vividly remember sitting around family and friends, enjoying a great fish fry and listening to lively tunes as we idly passed the last days of summer away. Little did we know that within one week, our lives and the world we live in will be radically changed forever. What are the impacts of these sweeping changes in our lives? How would it affect the growth and competitiveness of the northeastern U.S. aquaculture industry?

        I am not Nostradamus but since Keith's been on my back for sometime now, here's my 104 worth of advice to New Hampshire's nascent aquaculture industry.

        First, we need to realize that we live in a global and interconnected world. This may sound like a worn out 'mantra' from the 60's but don't laugh, for it has far reaching implications. The "mighty" U.S. catfish industry is currently reeling from the serious threat posed by dirt cheap products coming from technologically 'backward' countries like Vietnam. Whether this is due to 'dumping' or a simple failure to monitor and forecast industry trends worldwide is not yet apparent. However, the message is clear -- global excellence and vigilance is everyone's business. Failure to address this issue, from the general policy perspective down to the individual farm level, could mean the collapse of entire industries and their dependent communities.

        Second, we must learn to accept and fully embrace change. But take heed, for change is a two-edged sword that could bring insurmountable challenges for some and windfall opportunities for others, especially those who are prepared. I have often been told, with much pride and gusto, that the majority of the region's aquaculture industry are basically 'mom and pop' operations. What most people don't seem to realize is that 'mom and pop', much like the fish they are culturing, is just one of the necessary growth stages towards the development of a dynamic and diverse regional aquaculture industry. In general, to maintain the status quo is to run counter to the forces of change. While innovation is more apt to emerge from a multitude of small farms, growth, profitability, stability and the achievement of long-term industry goals can only be achieved by going through the normal pains of industry evolution and associated organizational change.

        Third, we need to be grateful for what we have and start building our fortunes from there. I often hear that the northeastern U.S. region seems to lack favorable factors needed to develop a successful and thriving aquaculture industry. Compared to the south, for example, we do not have the year-round, warm environment that fosters rapid growth of cultured species without the need for expensive climate control devices. Nor do we have the flat topography for expansive pond production or supportive regulatory climate and cheap labor supply that makes it easy and profitable for farmers to get into the aquaculture business. But we do have lots of 'Yankee' ingenuity and proximity to the nation's largest seafood eating populations. It has been said that the northeastern United States, especially the metropolitan Boston area, contains the most number of colleges and Ph.D.'s per acre of land than any other place earth! So, yes, we do have very strong potential sources of sustainable competitive advantage over other regions and countries in the world. 'Brains over brawn' and continuous innovation are the most likely strategic elements that would help the region achieve global industry leadership in aquaculture.

        But in order to make these things happen: We need a Fourth, plan ahead, set common goals, organize and learn to work together as an industry. It is only by working together, i.e., NRAC, NHAA and other industry associations, government agencies, aquaculture education and research communities, etc., that we would be able to achieve our collective goals.

        On this note, I would like to close this article by citing a short poem dedicated to all the hard working 'mom & pop' fish farmers of NHAA.

"I am only one but I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do,
By the grace of God I will do."



        To Greg Bossart on his election to serve on TIAC, the Technical and Industry Advisory Council, which assists the Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center. He joins Debbie Gile who has served three years, Rob Robertson from UNH who has served one year, and J-J Newman who is finishing up her fourth year and is now retiring from the group. (Thanks J-J for the time you have put in representing the interests of fish farmers in the region.) TIAC reviews funding proposals submitted to NRAC for USDA moneys made available to the region, which ranges from Washington D.C. to ME. Our job is to evaluate these proposals for good scientific procedures and for relevance to the end-user, people like our association members. The areas for which proposals are generated are determined by Industry Councils hosted by NRAC. Many states in NRAC have little participation on this board or at the Industry Councils, but NH is well represented. Sometimes the voice of the small producer gets swallowed up in the whole process, but our solid presence in this group helps to make a difference.


Famous Words Previously Uttered To Do with Fish Disease

        "Believe what you see: Do not try to see what you believe."
"When in doubt, throw them out!" Dr. Bill Klomtz

"All major problems start as minor problems."
"There will be fish diseases as long as there are fish disease experts." Dr. Jim Chacko

These two gentleman are both professors that teach at Unity College in Maine. I picked up these quotes at a short course on fish diseases that I had attended at the college. I thought that I would share them with the readers of the Gillzette.

If I may add one....
It's easy to spread what you can't see.

        Keith W. Bruning


To the Editor:

        In regards to nuisance and hazardous species relative to the aquarium and water garden hobbyist, I respect the call of concern considered when dealing with any prevalence of these species. It is unfortunate that these Charadcidaes have been uncovered in public waters. An intentional, careless and ignorant act of this sort should not be tolerated.

        In as far as the water gardening public and business goes, I have found the hobbyists, installers, clientele and business owners to be highly aware of said concerns, more than reasonably responsible, and very educated and dignified individuals. Let us also not forget that it is not the type or aspect of aquaculture that may often be led to blame for these ignorant acts, but the demeanor and character of the individuals responsible.

        I agree wholeheartedly that education can play a role towards satisfying the needs of the demand for water garden and aquarium care while heeding legitimate protocol. Perhaps it is time the NHAA reaches further out into this avenue of aquaculture. This indeed would allow us to broaden our overall mission and to enhance the network of relative interests and endeavors.

Greg Bossart