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Economic Feasibilty of Utilizing Saline Groundwater of West Alabama to Produce Florida Pompano in a Recirculating Aquaculture System




Gorman, Jacob

Type of Degree





Recirculating aquaculture systems hold great promise for producing large amounts of fish in a confined area, using significantly less water and land resources than conventional aquaculture. However, these systems require a large capital investment and are often not profitable due to the low price received for traditionally cultured specie such as tilapia and catfish. In order become more profitable, high value marine species were evaluated to determine if the higher prices received would compensate for higher operating costs and capital oulays. To decrease the cost of producing these marine fish in recirculating systems, saline water from West Alabama aquifers was used to reduce or eliminate (depending on culture salinity) the cost of making seawater. v After evaluating numerous species such as grouper, snapper, and flounder, pompano was chosen as the specie for evaluation. This selection relates to the high prices it commands, as well as its suitability for culture in low salinity, recirculating systems. Culture was evaluated at both 15 ppt salinity and 6 ppt salinity. The system was designed to harvest 92,625 pounds of fish per year in 67,102 gallons of water. Operating costs totaled $478,084 per year if raised at 15 ppt and $250,993 per year if raised at 6 ppt salinity. The total capital investment for the facility was $298,206 regardless of the salinity at which pompano were cultured, with annual depreciation of $40,462. Sensitivity analysis was conducted to evaluate the profitability of a pompano facility producing pompano at various salinities, with different feed conversion ratios (FCR), and at different prices received. Pompano production was found to be an attractive investment when raised at 15 ppt at 90 percent survival with an FCR of 3.1 and a market price of $7 per pound. If pompano can be successfully cultured at 6 ppt, as research suggests, production is an attractive investment at 95 percent survival with an FCR of 3.1 and a market price of only $4 per pound.