HURRICANE PREPARATIONS FOR AQUACULTURE FACILITIES
Our staff in the PAES W.A.T.E.R. (http://paeswater.com/) research and demonstration facility in Apopka, Florida are….like everyone in Florida, dealing with the uncertainties that hurricanes and major storms bring. Thanks to modern technology that allows us to monitor and gather data on approaching weather systems days and weeks in advance, they are able to make the preparations required to safely maintain the facility and fish that are in growth trials.
Several options are available to our staff to prepare the facility for expected conditions. Although the most important parameter that will threaten survival of our fish is loss of electrical power, this facility was built with a standby generator and a backup oxygen supply, which will supply power and oxygen to the entire facility for days, if necessary. Of greater concern, however, is the ability of staff to be able to reach the facility under storm and post-storm conditions. Safety of the staff of any aquaculture facility is paramount, but there are some procedures that can be implemented. If conditions are expected to be serious enough that access to the building may not be possible, operators will often begin to reduce feed rates several days in advance, to reduce the amount of oxygen required to keep the fish alive and healthy. In addition, a ‘controlled shutdown’ can be done, that is, our facility can be disconnected from public utility power, and the generator can be started and allowed to operate until post-storm access is possible. Hats off to all those aquaculture technicians around the world who answer the call 24/7 for their aquaculture operations!