Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Champion of Urban Aquaculture: Dr. Martin Schreibman, Brooklyn College, New York

Immediately after the conclusion of the Cornell Aquaculture short-course, I flew to New York City for the last few days of my three-month adventure (Israel, Maine, New York). The purpose of my stay in NYC was two-fold: I would get some much-needed R&R in one of the greatest cities in the world, PLUS I would have the opportunity to meet and chat with a leading recirculation scientist in his lab at Brooklyn College.

Dr. Martin Schreibman has been working with recirculation systems for many years, yet what makes his work so intriguing is a number of points:

1) He is interested in “urban aquaculture”, namely growing fish on a small scale in metropolitan settings
2) He is also exploring the role of hydroponics, or growing plants in the same system as the fish; in this way, the fish waste provides the nutrient fertilizer for the plants’ growth.

A number of years ago, Dr. Schreibman help found the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center (AREAC) at Brooklyn College so that he and many other researchers would have a Centre at which to conduct all their work. Given that the human race is becoming more environmentally-conscious, Dr. Schreibman’s work operating these small-scale, environmentally-friendly food production systems will be of vital importance in the coming years.

During my meeting with Schreibman, we sat in his office and spoke at length about challenges and future directions of the industry, as well as where his research fit into the “big picture”. He was a passionate man who clearly loved his work, and his enthusiasm was contagious!

His research focused mainly on tilapia, growing them in the recirculation systems I had been learning about for the past two weeks. Yet as I mentioned before, these were all very small-scale, each one producing no more than a couple hundreds pounds of tilapia. Plus the introduction of plants into the system seemed to be working: both fish and plant appeared happy and healthy, and the water in each tank looked crystal clear due to the help of the natural filtration.

All in all we spent about three hours together, and let me assure you that it was an illuminating three hours! I have been in touch with Dr. Schreibman since we met in August 2009, and I truly hope that we are able to continue our professional relationship into the future. He is an invaluable industry contact, but perhaps more importantly he is a high-calibre man who is concerned with the future and is willing to pass on his knowledge and expertise to the next generation.

Check out this YouTube video for more information: Dr. Martin Schreibman- Urban Aquaculture

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