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Project to map trout genetics

June 11, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

LEETOWN, W.Va. - Scientists will study ways to produce better farm-raised rainbow trout in a $1 million federal research project at the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture in Leetown.

The project was announced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. He added the research project to a federal agriculture appropriations bill as part of a $5.8 million package of West Virginia projects.

The research is intended to map the entire gene system of the trout so scientists can learn how to breed healthy, better-tasting fish, said John Crew, area administrative officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Most aquaculture has focused on producing warm-water fish species, such as catfish, Crew said. Catfish farming has been successful in the south, he said.

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By focusing on cool- and cold-water fish, farmers in West Virginia and other states in cooler climates will have more opportunities to get involved in aquaculture, Crew said. Aquaculture will become more important as the traditional ocean fisheries become depleted, he said.

The research will be conducted at the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture when it opens, and at West Virginia University, he said. The center will be part of the USDA but will be next to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's center in Leetown.

Construction will begin on the center in spring 1999 and is expected to be complete by 2000, Crew said.

A public information meeting will be held at 7 p.m. June 25 at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's administrative building.

Byrd called the funding for the research part of his continuing effort to promote aquaculture in West Virginia.

"West Virginia possesses the water resources and farmlands needed to sustain a viable aquaculture industry," Byrd said in a prepared statement.

The agriculture legislation includes $750,000 to continue a WVU study on ways to help fish farmers throughout Appa-lachia increase production, delivery and marketing. An-other $300,000 in the bill is for continuing operations of the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va.

The agriculture bill also includes $1 million for West Virginia poultry farmers for continuation of a program to reduce the flow of pollution into the Potomac River.

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