Harbor Branch Partners with Seafood Company on Fish Project

FAU Harbor Branch and Amy's Island Seafood are partnering on an aquaculture project that will produce healthy, safe fish for consumers.

FAU Harbor Branch scientists are raising cobia as part of a partnership with a local seafood company.

By carin smith | 9/21/2015

The product of a project spawned out of a partnership between FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) and local company Amy’s Island Seafood could end up being your next healthy dinner choice. The two entities have come together to design and implement a method of fish farming – or aquaculture – that produces safe, sustainable seafood for local consumers. The products, such as cobia, will be traceable from inception to plate, ensuring a high level of quality for customers unmatched by any other system.

“Many traditional aquaculture systems worldwide have been known to produce a great deal of waste and utilize excessive antibiotics,” said Paul Wills, Ph.D., FAU Harbor Branch research professor and program manager. “This Florida project between HBOI and Amy’s Island aims to provide a solution by creating a safe, sustainable means of fish farming that utilizes higher quality water and feed, resulting in a product that is safe and sustainable.”

There are a variety of challenges facing the aquaculture industry, with one of the most significant being that with an increased need for more seafood to match the ever-growing growing human population, there is a need to use innovative technologies to lessen the impact on the environment and at the same time produce healthy seafood.

“Consumers have become more conscious of the food supply chain and are looking for food sources that are of outstanding quality, humanely treated and grown with minimal impact to the environment,” said Amy Zwemer, owner and operator of Amy’s Island Seafood. “The recent addition of cobia broodstock to the operation will allow us to control the quality of our cobia from egg to market – this is something not many companies can do for their customers.”

Aquaculture is an important industry worldwide and is growing locally, having been identified as a target industry by the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council (EDC).

“This project and partnership sets the stage for growth of this target industry not only in this area, but in Florida and nationally,” said Pete Tesch, president of the EDC. “St. Lucie County is an ideal location for aquaculture and for this project as our climate offers a tremendous opportunity for year-round production.”

Amy’s Island Seafood’s first batch of cobia, which is currently 4 months old, will be ready for market by the end of the year.