July 18, 2008

For those who have ever considered fishing for bass and bluegill from the banks of their own pond or dipping a toe into small-scale shrimp sales, a workshop offered by the Kentucky State University Extension Program could be just the thing to float your boat.

The Small-scale, Home Use and Recreation Aquaculture workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 23 at the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center in Princeton. William Wurts, senior state specialist for aquaculture, said the sessions are designed to show a landowner what could be done with either a small existing pond or by constructing a new one. He emphasized the workshop would not cover large-scale commercial fish production.

"This is a producer, landowner, small farmer workshop. If they've wanted to get into aquaculture for any reason, it's a way to see what they can do and what the opportunities are," he said.

Those opportunities range from personal recreational use to small scale local sales. On the latter end of that spectrum, Wurts said a producer selling a few hundred pounds of freshwater shrimp or fish at retail prices through niche markets could potentially see a 10 to 20 percent return on an initial investment.

But he also knows of people who raise shrimp in ponds as small as half an acre just to supply an annual giant shrimp boil for their friends and families. The end result of a small-scale aquaculture venture is up to the landowner, Wurts said.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Sessions will cover low-input shrimp farming, managing bass and bluegill in farm ponds, small-scale catfish farming, pond construction and liming ponds. No registration is necessary.

Wurts suggested making a day of it.

"Drag your bass boat to our meeting, and you can head on down to the lake afterwards," he said, referring to nearby Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

For more information, contact Wurts, 270-365-7541, ext. 200, or Forrest Wynne, aquaculture extension specialist in Graves County, 270-247-2334.

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