The Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative
Malnutrition—affecting millions of people in tropical countries—is inextricably linked to problems in food production and distribution. One solution is to foster local small-scale sustainable agricultural projects for impoverished people in equatorial climates. We promote fish farming methods that meet these requirements while providing relatively high yield protein and a valuable income source to needy families in Haiti.
Dependence on expensive imported manufactured fish feed has proved to be decidedly unsustainable in many cases in Haiti. Several years ago the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative was launched at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) to develop plant-based fish diets and improved pond management protocols in L’Acul , and the nearby mountain region southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Our goal was then—as has remained—to offer prospective Haitian fish farmer methods for producing fish using exclusively local resources.
After many trials, challenges and adventures, our Haitian partners are successfully harvesting fish from previously fallow ponds. We have now expanded our activities to different areas in Haiti. Doing so has brought us into contact with numerous other people and organizations doing work that complements our own efforts. Serving the MBL’s mission of improving the human condition, in addition to our fish farming we are developing a range of biologically based auxiliary technologies and resources that will improve daily life in tropical environments.
Current goals of the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative:
• Enhance fish production in Haiti
• Foster existing and new relationships with fish farmers throughout Latin America, and Africa
• Provide a host of resources and technologies adaptable to a wide range of environments and societies
• Improve methods of disseminating our knowledge base and discoveries
Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative (SAI) scientists bring with them over 50 combined years of experience and expertise in aquaculture. We are fortunate to be based at MBL in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a world renowned center for biological research, where we further benefit from the rich atmosphere of scientific inquiry.
Bill Mebane is the originator and director of the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative as well as the Superintendent of the MBL’s Marine Resources Aquaculture Engineering Division. He has been actively involved in the field of aquaculture for over 25 years. His first visit to Haiti in 2000 introduced him to the problems of rural mountain fish ponds; he has been working to develop and implement low-resource tilapia production techniques in Haiti ever since. At the other end of the spectrum, Bill is additionally involved in developing sophisticated laboratory based life support systems for zebrafish and xenopus culture.
Tracy Youngster is a Research Assistant for the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative. She began at the MBL in September 2011 after graduating from Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Most of her time is spent designing and running experimental feed trials at the Marine Resources Center but she also travels to Haiti to assist with the establishment of Aquaculture Learning Centers.
Scott Lindell is Director of MBL’s Scientific Aquaculture Program and Manager of Marine Resources. Scott has been involved with commercial and scientific aquaculture for over 30 years. Scott’s early culturing experience with tilapia has expanded and now includes other finfish, shellfish, seaweed and microalgae. Some of Scott’s current research is directed toward offshore shellfish and seaweed farming.