Aquaculture Program Helps Virginians Meet Demand For Locally-Sourced Fish

June 24, 2016

Fish school participants seine a catfish pond during a past Fish School program.

Fish school participants seine a catfish pond during a past Fish School program.

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964,

Aquaculture Program Helps Virginians Meet Demand For Locally-Sourced Fish

Virginia State University's Aquaculture Program will hold its annual three-day Fish School Wednesday, July 6 through Friday, July 8, at the Randolph Farm Pavilion located on 4415 River Road, Petersburg. The program begins at 8 a.m. and ends around 4 p.m. each day.

Local sustainable aquaculture production of catfish, freshwater shrimp and tilapia will be the focus of this year’s Fish School. Morning classroom lectures followed by afternoon hands-on participation will cover pond, cage and greenhouse aquaponic management practices. Registrants will have the opportunity to participate in pond and cage stocking, water quality testing, seining, building fish cages, and fish and shrimp transport and stocking, as well as tour a processing facility and a greenhouse with an aquaponic facility.

“Raising fish at home could open up many profitable opportunities,” said Dr. Brian Nerrie, Virginia Cooperative Extension Aquaculture Specialist at Virginia State University. “Home or farm raised fish could easily be sold for profit at farmers markets, direct from your farm or to local restaurants. There is a huge demand for locally sourced food, including seafood.”

The American Heart Association recommends that we eat fish at least twice a week, since fish are high in protein, low in saturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Global per capita fish consumption has almost doubled from the 1960s to 2012. And today, about half of all the seafood destined for human consumption is produced through aquaculture, also called fish farming.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) projects that by 2030, aquaculture, one of the fastest growing methods of producing food in the world, will be responsible for almost two-thirds of the fish we eat. The FAO estimates that over 600 aquatic species are produced globally in a variety of aquaculture systems using freshwater, brackish water or salt water. In the U.S., over 91 percent of the seafood we eat is currently imported. 

There is a $30 per person registration fee for the three-day educational activity, which includes lunch all three days.  

To register for this event, visit, click on the July 6 VSU Fish School event and click on the registration form. To register by phone, for more information, or if you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, contactDebra Jones at (804) 524-5496/TDD (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.