PIKETON, Ohio -- Want to learn how to become a fish farmer?
The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development at The Ohio State University South Centers is offering 30 new and beginning fish farmers an in-depth introduction to aquaculture and aquaponics and the business of fish farming through a yearlong program.
Called Aquaculture Boot Camp-2 or ABC-2, the program’s goal is to increase the number of fish farmers in the region, said Hanping Wang, the director of the ABC program at the OSU South Centers. The OSU South Centers are part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“The goal of the ABC-2 is to enhance the sustainability of new and beginning aquaculture, aquaponic and next-generation farmers in Ohio and the Midwest,” Wang said.
Aquaculture includes the breeding, rearing and harvesting of animals in ponds and indoor tank systems for food, sport, bait and ornamental fish. In Ohio, there are about 200 fish farmers registered statewide, according to a 2010 OSU South Centers survey.
The boot camp will include classroom and individual and group hands-on training, Wang said. Sessions will be held at the South Centers, which are in Piketon, and at other aquaculture facilities.
“The training will include new skills and innovations required to sustainably and successfully own and operate an aquaculture or aquaponic farm,” he said.
During the intensive program, participants will take part in 16 days of training, including 12 one-day intensive classroom and hands-on sessions on aquaculture, aquaponics and business, three aquaculture/aquaponics workshops, and a farm tour. Participants will also have the opportunity to work on an operating fish farm. Most of the training will take place on Saturdays, with some Friday sessions.
“Participants will also be paired with trainers and mentors in the field, and have the opportunity to tour several area aquaculture farms,” Wang said. “Participants will also learn how to create a business plan and how to market their new business and products.”
The program is free of charge, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Applications for the program are available at go.osu.edu/abc2 and are due by Nov. 4. Applicants will be notified of selection by Nov. 15, and the first day of the boot camp will be Jan. 14, 2017, at the South Centers.