Improving the Human Condition
The failure of fish to thrive in rural mountain ponds in Haiti gave rise to a project which has become the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). We began by developing plant-based fish diets and pond management protocols for existing ponds sponsored by CODEP, an organization in L’Acul, Haiti. Our goal for this program was to offer prospective Haitian fish farmers methods for producing fish using only local resources.
Our more recent efforts have been focused on a periphyton based system of aquaculture, a method of raising plants and algae within a pond to supply fish with food. All of the methods we employ are evaluated in terms of energy and resource input and output to minimize demand on farmers. Every effort is made here in Woods Hole and in conjunction with partners in Haiti, to refine our ideas into adaptable, culturally congruent methods.
Having thoroughly studied periphyton along with other methods, we taught the CODEP farmers to implement appropriate techniques, and helped them maintain their ponds through a number of successful seasonal harvests. We knew our work had made a mark when we learned that remote villagers deeper in the mountains had started using periphyton farming techniques in their own newly established ponds. Other Haitians have now asked us to come help them. We have thus entered a new phase of effort: spreading the word and availability of our technologies to other areas in Haiti.
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