Would-be Wisconsin aquaculturists, here’s a double shot of good news: A pair of recently launched websites could help you site your new operation in a location that’s primed for success.
Both are the result of work by Chris Hartleb, a professor of sheries biology at UW-Stevens Point and an aquaculture outreach specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. The first go.wisc.edu/0g3298 will focus on pond-culture aquaculture farms, while the second go.wisc.edu/2o8u1v will target raceway/flow-through aquaculture operations. The idea grew out of a student research project that compiled GIS data to identify Wisconsin locations that had ideal conditions for particular types of aquaculture.
Hartleb and his design team modeled the new sites after Google Maps to increase ease of use. Potential farmers can simply type in an address and zoom in to get more information about a particular location. Sites are shaded as suit- able or not suitable, based on key factors such as the site’s clay content and the shape of the land, as well as the surrounding water quality and its ability to transport key nutrients to the fish. The location of existing aquaculture farms are also part of the websites’ database, so there’s no worry about picking a site that’s already occupied.
Hartleb believes Wisconsin is the first state to launch websites that cover the entire state, and while he emphasizes that they’re only meant to be used as a reference—farmers will also need to perform their own site investigation and water/soil quality tests—the interest in the resource is obviously high.
“People who knew we were working on this kept asking me, ‘When can I get this information?’” said Hartleb. “I hope businesses and economic development groups can use these sites as an initial springboard to whatever they’re hoping to establish.”