Aquaculture Magazine

February / March 2014

Hatchery Technology and Management

By Cecilia C. Vargas

Dear enthusiastic aquaculturists:


Working at a hatchery, regardless the species, requires one to focus on several aspects of the operation. Among the most important ones to consider are infrastructure, water treatment, biology of the species in question and the personnel team. Is the location of the hatchery suitable? What equipment is needed for the species and production strategy being used? What types of water treatments should be applied? And what about environmental conditions? For instance, which temperatures and salinities are optimal for broodstock, egg incubation and larval stages? How can we avoid bacterial blooms and diseases? Which feeds and feeding regimes (live feed and early weaning or only dry feed) and options are available? Based on preferred production plans, which skills do the hatchery staff need to possess? Innumerable questions like these will arise.

In addition, and probably most importantly, the fact is that in any hatchery we are working with aquatic organisms at their earliest stages, and they need good care, tenderness and pampering. After all, they are babies and that is what all babies need. Those of us that work or have worked at hatcheries know that it is a very demanding job, often with long working days. Perhaps the day will start before sunrise, and after all the daily tasks are completed you will go home long after sunset. So, dedication and passion are crucial personality traits needed in any hatchery. In my own experience while working at a wolfish hatchery, although I was responsible for the larval rearing operations, I also volunteered to help in stripping of gametes and fertilization of eggs. Even though this process was conducted after midnight and I was dead tired during the daytime I found it fascinating and rewarding.

In this column, I will aim to provide information about the numerous factors to consider when running a hatchery, with an emphasis on aquaculture best practices. Recommendations on how to succeed in the larval and juvenile production of various cold and warm water aquatic organisms will also be addressed. However, this column is also intended to encourage constructive discussions and the exchange of experiences. Everybody is welcome to contribute ideas and questions, so do not hesitate to contact me by e mail.

Truly yours,

Cecilia  C. Vargas

Cecilia C. Vargas

Cecilia Vargas is currently taking the 3rd and last PhD year at the University of Nordland in Bodø, Norway. Her research topic is “Comparisons between diploids and triploids of Atlantic cod in muscle system and gut morphology”.  She has many years of experience  in laboratory scale and commercial scale production of aquatic species like rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, Japanese species (devil stinger, Japanese flounder), wolf fish and cod as well as live feed production.  During her earlier positions as manager she was responsible for production planning, hatchery technology, writing protocols, budgeting and personnel management.


Her education includes current studies for a PhD in Aquatic Biosciences, a Master’s degree in Marine Resources / Aquaculture, experience as a Research Student in the Faculty of Fisheries at Nagasaki University, and an Engineer degree in Fisheries Sciences / Aquaculture at La Molina Agricultural University in Lima, Peru. 

At Cod Juveniles AS (the daughter company of Codfarmers ASA), in Bodø, Norway, Cecilia was a Hatchery Manager from 2008 to 2010.  While there, her responsibilities involved planning and development of Broodstock and Hatchery facilities for the company’s cod farming operations. Other responsibilities included training  plant personnel, safeguarding the daily operations and all personnel responsible for the hatchery and broodstock facilities, ensuring a focus on quality, health, safety and security for employees, ensuring proper biological and technical operation of the plant, and ensuring that all regulatory requirements related to the facility were at all times fulfilled.

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