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.