David M. Granger (


AUBURN -- Three researchers from Auburn University's Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture will speak at the Catfish Research and Industry Update Forum on March 11 in Demopolis.

John Plumb, an AU fisheries professor emeritus, will speak to the group about his new book, Health Maintenance and Principal Microbial Diseases of Cultured Fishes, focusing on the legal and ethical methods available for treating catfish and ponds. Plumb's book touts a holistic approach to disease prevention in certain fish -- an approach that is gaining momentum in the catfish industry.

The forum will be at the Demopolis Civic Center.

Other AU faculty who will speak include Phil Klesius, director of Agricultural Research Services' Fish Disease Laboratory in Auburn, and Claude Boyd, an AU fisheries professor.

Klesius will discuss recent developments in vaccines to control diseases in catfish that cost farmers millions of dollars per year. Boyd, a renowned authority on water quality management, will assess the environmental effects of catfish farming in Alabama. Boyd's work has shown that reducing pond water discharges can profit catfish farmers and the environment.

Other speakers will include Ed Robinson of the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center in Stoneville, Miss., who will discuss catfish-related research efforts in Mississippi; Roger Yant of Goldkist Inc., on the status of hybrid catfish; and Frank Boyd of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, who will discuss cormorant control for the catfish farmers.

Sponsored by the Alabama Catfish Producers and the Greensboro-based Alabama Fish Farming Center, the forum is an opportunity for Alabama catfish farmers to catch up on the latest research, said John Jensen, head of AU's fisheries department.

"This is an annual program designed to share the accomplishments of the research that has resulted from the farmers' contributions through their check-off dollars," said Jensen. "It's a report back to the individuals that contributed to the fund."

The catfish check-off program results in the donation of 50 cents per ton of catfish feed purchased by participants to the Alabama Catfish Fund for research and promotion.

In addition to the informative speakers, Jensen says the forum presents the opportunity for researchers and farmer to interact to the benefit of both.

"When we know what farmers need, we can try to better manage what we have in terms of faculty, facilities and funding to help them solve some of their biggest problems," Jensen said.

For more information on the conference, call the Alabama Fish Farming Center at 334/624-4016.

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CONTACT: Jensen, 334/844-4786