Had a really interesting afternoon today. Visited an inland pond-based fish farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the AQUADAPT-Mekong Coordination Unit, along with professors from the Faculty of Fisheries Technology and Aquatic Resources at Maejo University, to chat with the farm owner about his rearing practices and use of aeration technology. His farm is quite sophisticated and unique in many ways.
First, using the rearing method of biofloc in practice is relatively new here; whereby culture is added to convert fish wastes within the pond’s ecosystem back into nutritious and edible floc that the fish can eat, and thus reducing the overall need for fish feed.
Second, aerators are turned on all day and night. Thus, incidences of low dissolved oxygen, which significantly increases the risks of fish mortality, does not occur here. Though this also means that electricity consumption is relatively high. Alternative, sustainable sources of energy is therefore of interest, but must also be worth the initial investment and continued maintenance costs.
Third, due to the constant providing of oxygen bubbles via the aerators and the circulation this causes within the pond, as well as the high turbidity levels due to the large amounts of floc and phytoplankton, the water in the pond remains relatively cool even though it might be a scorching hot afternoon, like today.
Fourth, the owner plans to turn his farm into an organic fish farm, which is an ambitious task; one obstacle being that organic fish feed is not easily made or cheap to buy. Moreover, regulations and standards for organic fish in Thailand is still in the works. Presently, there is no clear, standardized stamp for organic fish yet.
Fifth, the owner’s openness and willingness to collaborate with academics from universities on projects is quite uncommon in the Thai aquaculture context; i.e. it is rare that professors work together directly with fish farmers on the ground.
All in all, it was a very interesting and productive afternoon. It was also quite fascinating to watch and listen to the interactions between a group of stakeholders made up of researchers, lecturers and farmers, exchanging information and finding ways to collaborate together.