“Back in the 1930s, a professor of fisheries named Dr. Homer Swingle was at Auburn University,” Dr. Jesse Chappell said. “At that time, no one had thought about digging a pond to grow fish for recreation or to eat. Dr. Swingle and his friends had to travel 45 miles to go fishing then.”
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SPORTFISH POND: These scientists spent several years researching, studying and testing fish-stocking regimes and fertilization programs. After several years of trial and error, Dr. Swingle and his fishing buddies learned how to build small ponds, stock them with fish and fertilize those ponds to have productive fishing close to their homes. Many of these processes are still used now in small pond management.
SALTWATER SCHOOL: The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Freshwater Fisheries Division built, stocked and managed state fishing lakes in many Alabama counties that became the models for making better fishing available to people throughout the nation. Due to Auburn University’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and with the help of the University of South Alabama’s Marine Science Department, the researchers at Auburn and South Alabama learned to raise saltwater fish and shrimp on less food in a shorter time to bring saltwater fish species to the market sooner and make them more abundant and available for consumers.
Growing saltwater fish in captivity has become big business in countries around the world. Auburn has sent scientists and researchers to more than 110 countries to teach fish farmers worldwide how to raise more fish for less money and have higher yields for greater profits. The U.S. imports about 92 percent of its fish to eat from other countries. About half of that amount comes from fish farmers overseas. Only about 48 percent of the fish eaten in the U.S. are caught in the wild.
This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Winter 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.