NOAA 99-R517
Contact: Jana Goldman


Members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will be trained to raise yellow perch in a recirculating aquaculture system, funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Sea Grant College Program.

The three-day training session will run from Aug. 17-20 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Great Lakes Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research (WATER) Institute's Aquaculture Center in Milwaukee, Wis. The session will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 to formally dedicate the project.

"This training will help them to learn how to raise and harvest marketable fish," said Fred Binkowski, senior scientist at the institute and a Sea Grant extension agent.

The Red Lake Band fished in the Upper and Lower Red lakes in north central Minnesota until 1997 when the Red Lakes Fisheries Association voluntarily closed down commercial fishing because of overexploitation. Before it closed, the fishery had a significant impact on the area, pumping more than $1 million annually into the local economy from sales of fish bearing the Red Lake label sold in the north central United States.

Binkowski, who has been conducting research on the intensive culture of yellow perch for more than a decade, began working with tribal biologists in 1992. A demonstration project was started about five months ago, with tribal members caring for the fish, monitoring growth, and learning how to solve problems, Binkowski said. The project is on schedule and marketable fish are expected to be harvested in September.

A $10,000 grant from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and a matching $10,000 grant from the Red Lake Band supported the construction of a commercial-scale recirculating aquaculture system at the Aquaculture Center. Like a home aquarium, the water in a recirculating system is filtered rather than exchanged. An additional $65,000 from the Red Lake Band made it possible to install another commercial-scale system on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. The Red Lake unit will be used for training and fish production while training, research, and education will take place at the Center.

A specialized classroom and hands-on training session will be featured during the August course. The tribal aquaculture specialists will learn about the practical aspects of fish health, yellow perch biology, the microbiology component of the system, water chemistry, and the system's engineering aspects.

The Center, working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also conducted cooperative projects with the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota and the Lac du Flambeau Band in Wisconsin.

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