Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 2, Page 7 Winter 1992 Furnishing facts and figures for fin farmers Aquaculture is making a big splash in Delaware these days. To buoy a growing interest in fish farms and crayfish crops, the state Department of Agriculture and the University have established the Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center at the College of Marine Studies complex in Lewes. Located on the second floor of Cannon Laboratory, the center opened in October, and its library is brimming with magazines, periodicals, Cooperative Extension fact sheets, videos, books and catalogs. Individuals also can use center computers to conduct a national search for specific aquaculture operations, whether they are interested in producing high value softshell crabs or decorative water lilies. The center also will provide advisers to work with aquatic farmers, much as extension agents help farmers with field crops. Two publications specific to Delaware already have been prepared by John Ewart, center director and a marine advisory specialist in the college. "Aquaculture in Delaware: Potential and Future Prospects" and "Delaware Aquaculture Resource Guide" are now available, and a guide to aquaculture regulations and information on crayfish production will be completed soon. For copies, call Ewart at (302) 645-4060. Research support for the center will be provided by Kent Price, who resigned his position as the college's associate dean to work on the new aquaculture initiative. Price, who helped develop the college's controlled-environment mariculture program for oysters, clams and mussels in the 1970s, will work on several new courses in aquaculture, and he plans to set up demonstration projects with major food-processing companies. Price says he believes there is a good market for all types of seafood as Americans become increasingly health conscious. He says that raising hybrid striped bass in ponds and tanks may be one of the best aquaculture possibilities in Delaware because the native striped bass, known locally as rockfish, already is recognized by consumers as a food fish. However, he says, more research is needed on feed, genetics, disease control and marketing of the hybrid, which is a cross of striped bass with white bass. Bait fish, channel catfish, clams, oysters and blue crabs also have potential for commercial production by Delaware's aquatic farmers and small businesses.