Public and Allied Health Faculty Publications


From water to table: A multidisciplinary approach comparing fish from aquaponics with traditional production methods

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Global fisheries are insufficient to meet the rising seafood demand of a rapidly growing population. Aquaponics -- the co-production of fish and produce in a water-circulating system where fish naturally fertilize the plants, which in turn filter the water for the fish --offers a potential solution to sustainable aquaculture. Despite the ecological promise of aquaponics, relatively little is known about the impact of this novel production method on fish composition, sensory properties, and consumer acceptance. In this research, we offered a unique, interdisciplinary perspective to examine the market potential of aquaponics by conducting a series of multidisciplinary studies to compare yellow perch (Perca flavescens) from a combined Recirculating Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture System (RIMTAS) with fish from traditional production methods (i.e., wild-caught and farm-raised). Our quality parameter and macronutrient analyses showed that aquaponic perch were comparable to their wild-caught and farm-raised counterparts in texture, moisture content, total fat, and total protein. We also demonstrated that aquaponic perch were as liked as wild-caught perch in a consumer sensory evaluation. Furthermore, in a consumer perception and acceptance study, we found that providing information about the environmental benefits of aquaponics significantly increased consumer tastiness perception, healthiness perception, and purchase intention to a level at or exceeding that of wild-caught perch. With proper messaging strategies, aquaponic fish can compete in the market with wild-caught fish. Our findings offer insights to stakeholders in the aquaculture value chain as they explore and establish RIMTAS aquaponics as an environmentally and economically sustainable seafood production source.

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