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Money included for fish research center in W.Va.

August 10, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

Money included for fish research center in W.Va.



CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd has included $2 million in a U.S. Senate agriculture appropriations bill to help fund operations at a $12.5 million fish research center being built near Leetown.

The $2 million will be used to pay for staffing at the center as well as fish research efforts at West Virginia University and the Fresh Water Institute in Shepherdstown, said William K. Hershberger, director of the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture.

The National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture will employ about 12 research scientists and about 20 support staff, Hershberger said.

The research center will try to find ways of reducing the time required to raise fish for human consumption. The world's natural fish populations have peaked after decades of harvesting, yet consumption of fish continues at a brisk pace, Hershberger said.

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Part of the increased demand for fish can be attributed to the trend toward meat with lower fat levels, Hershberger said.

Once the center determines quicker methods of reproducing fish, the knowledge will be turned over to farmers, who can use fish farming to supplement their income, Hershberger said.

The research center, being built along W.Va. 480, will consist of a 30,000-square-foot office building and a 20,000-square-foot "wet lab," where fish will be raised, Hershberger said.

The facility has been under construction since last year, but was delayed for about four months when the contractor abandoned the project last March, Hershberger said.

A new contractor has taken over the project, and it should be completed by mid-February, Hershberger said.

The money that will go to West Virginia University will be used to fund an effort to map out the genetic makeup of rainbow trout, Hershberger said. The funding going to the Fresh Water Institute will help finance its research into setting up commercial fish breeding operations, Hershberger said. Those amounts were not available Wednesday.

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have both proposed an agricultural appropriations bill. In September, the two bills will go to a conference committee for reconciliation, according to officials in Byrd's office.

In the Senate bill, Byrd also included $700,000 for scientists at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville to intensify their efforts to find the source of a "plum pox" that has threatened a variety of fruit plants.

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