Interviewee: Peter Harvey

Role: Systems Manager-Aquaculture Research

Date of Interview:5/30/05

Collection: Ellsworth High School - Maine

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Peter Harvey is Systems Manager at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin, Maine. The facility made history when it spawned halibut and cod for the first time on American soil. Peter believes that well-managed aquaculture is an important part of our future: to assist with rebuilding natural fish stocks and produce a critical protein source—fish—on land, without depleting or polluting the seas.  

Transcript: “I work for the University of Maine at the Franklin Facility. The job title is Systems Manager. Effectively, I fix and keep anything running that is there and design for future expansion of the facility. It is what's known as an incubator, an industry incubator, which means it is enhancing employment within the state of Maine by the use of aquaculture. And not so long back we made history spawning cod for the first time on American soil. We have a federal facility being built next door that's supposed to be employing up to forty people in the next eight years. They will be producing juveniles and actually jumpstart the halibut industry in the state of Maine, and the U.S. Then in two weeks time we've got a sea urchin project started and that's in one of our big sixty-five foot outside tanks and we're seeing if we can actually do a sea urchin hatchery where we can spawn and actually grow them onto seeding size which means that they will be reintroduced into the environment, which is very opportunistic at this time seeing as the sea urchin industry is completely devastated by the virus that came through here starting in ninety- ninety-three, and since then the sea urchin fishery has declined to such an extent that it's almost non existent there. So we're looking at actually rearing them up and re-releasing them.

Aquaculture in the state of Maine is a very dubious subject, basically because the state of Maine, as with a lot of northern areas, is primarily fishing. Aquaculture is deemed to be a threat to the fishing, not a support to the fishing. A lot of people might resent what aquaculture brings. A lot of people are against aquaculture because they see net pens and they say they don't want net pens because it causes pollution, it causes a whole lot of problems. That's not where we're, we're heading towards. Aquaculture should be recirculation, which means you're reusing the water, which means you're conserving water. It also means that you can remove the waste products, and you can control the fish's environment, or species that you're dealing with. We're at ninety-five percent recirculation, we're only replacing five percent of our water in every system per day. That's a small amount. That's like running a garden hose in a system, and with that you can actually screen the waste products off, you can filter the water, you can process the water before it even reaches the sea. Our discharge license enforces that the amount of particulates that we release to the environment is less than we draw in. Our suspended solids is thirty milligrams per liter. The water we draw in is at forty milligrams per liter, so the water we release is far cleaner.

Aquaculture is not the enemy of the people. Aquaculture is not cage science that causes pollution. Aquaculture is not poisoning your food. Aquaculture is trying to secure food that is from a waterborne nature for the future, no different from farming, and that is important to really get to grips with. You'll hear a lot of publicity that is anti-aquaculture, especially from people with other agendas. But what you've got to realize is the seas are overfished to a remarkable degree—they're dying—and if we want to have and sustain a most important protein source, well maybe we ought to start to look more seriously at whether we can produce these on land with the security of not polluting the seas.”

To read Peter's full transcript, click here.