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USDA Award Catfish Hatchery Researchers

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MISSISSIPPI, US Two scientists at Mississippi State Universitys Thad Cochran Warmwater Aquaculture Center recently received a national technology transfer award for their work with young channel catfish.

Jim Steeby, an aquaculture specialist with the MSU Extension Service, and Les Torrans, a fish biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, received the 2008 Technology Transfer Award for Superior Efforts. The award was announced Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C.

Torrans, the primary researcher, works at the MSU facility in the ARS Catfish Genetics Research Unit in Stoneville. The annual award recognizes ARS researchers who successfully develop and deliver new technology for public use.

Torrans’ research determined the oxygen requirements of channel catfish eggs and fry, and showed that fry survival rates improve when catfish eggs receive highly oxygenated water during the last day of incubation.

He collaborated with Steeby, who determined that 65 per cent of Mississippi and Arkansas catfish hatcheries had lower-than-optimal oxygen rates during the critical time of high oxygen demand.

The two scientists, with more than 60 years of combined experience in the industry, identified potential solutions to the problem and educated hatchery owners about the need for increased egg oxygenation. They worked directly with 12 fish farms in the two states to help them adopt improved management techniques.

USDA reported that more than 75 per cent of the region’s catfish hatcheries have adopted the technology. This has led to an estimated $1 million increase in annual revenue for the catfish industry.

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