The winners of a competition focused on ways to preserve the flavour of catfish and prevent blue-green algae in their ponds have been announced this week.
The competition was arranged by the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and HeroX, in a bid to solve a 30 year problem.
For the past three decades aquaculture researchers have shown that catfish exposure to certain varieties of blue-green pond algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can cause a delay in harvest for roughly 50 percent of catfish ponds each year.
Cyanobacteria can cause taste and odour problems in fresh water-harvested fish. These “off-flavours” must be removed prior to processing and this can cause a delay in harvesting, as well as a loss in revenue, for catfish farmers. Annually, this delay is estimated to cost US catfish farmers $15-$20 million in lost revenue and expenses.
The competition launched in August 2020 and called on the global community to submit a strategy that benefits the nation's catfish farmers and prevents the "muddy" taste in catfish. Judges evaluated submissions for the best overall approach for pre-harvest management practices, pre-harvest treatment technologies, and post-harvest treatment technologies.
The overall winner was:
- Laura Arroyo Miniel, United States, Preventing Winter Off-Flavor with Solar Heating – awarded $20,000
The joint second-place entrants were:
- Sri Vijay Krishna Ganduri, India, Microbubbles Circulating with Submersible Vibrator – awarded $10,000
- Kimbal Hall and Jenna Rackovan, United States, Nanobubbles Inhibit Cyanobacteria Growth by Alden Research Laboratory, awarded $5,000
- Simon Wilson and Tom Haxton, United States, System Approach to Reduce Off-Flavors – awarded $10,000
In joint third place were:
- Stephen Newman, United States, Bacillus to Prevent Blue-Green Algae (BGA) Growth – awarded $5,000
- Timur Mammayev, Russia, Filtration of Water through Sawdust-Filled Column – awarded $5,000
"ARS very much appreciates the effort that our competitors put into the 86 submissions we received. This challenge provided ARS an opportunity to engage 243 competitors from 25 countries having diverse backgrounds and varying familiarity with catfish aquaculture," said Dr Caird Rexroad, "Our next step is to connect the winners with ARS scientists and develop partnerships so we can advance these ideas into solutions that reduce or eliminate off-flavor in commercial catfish aquaculture."