Fishing is one of Andrew's favorite hobbies
Amún Shéa celebrated its final day of classes this past Friday but learning is still going on. As part of a continuing effort to practice applied learning within our aquaponic greenhouse system, a small group of middle school students took part in a hands on workshop about aquaculture management and production.
Aquaculture at Amún Shéa is focused around tilapia farming, a process that is integral to the aquaponic greenhouse system, and productive area as a whole, that you have supported so faithfully. Thanks to this continued support, the tilapia pond is currently developing towards a level of productivity that will make it an important financial support for our efforts and a powerful teaching tool that all of the students of Amún Shéa and the Perquín School System can take advantage of.
Today’s workshop focused on the process of sexing, or determining the gender, of fish. But, of course, to do that the students had to have fish to work with. With the support of our production manager, Balmore, and two resident biologists who specialize in fish, Saúl and Samuel, the five students rigged up a net through the fish pond and patiently teased the fish out of hiding and into captivity. This process of actually capturing the fish is currently in development to find the most effective method, but today’s catch was good enough for our purposes and yielded six large, healthy fish.
Students then weighed and measured the fish and, again with the support of our resident experts, determined the gender of the fish. This process not only puts into practice the students’ knowledge of reproduction and life cycles in a biological context, but also teaches an important aspect of fishery management and organization; fish below a certain size should be released to continue growth until they reach an optimal size and resources should not be put into fattening up female fish because of the amount of resources that they must put into egg laying and care. Knowing the size and gender of the fish can then allow the students to decide whether the fish should be put in a tank for reproduction (females), a tank focused on growth (the males), or if they have reached a size appropriate for sale.
Once this process becomes streamlined our production manager estimates that our aquaculture alone can bring in around $5,000 a year to help support the school. Unfortunately, materials are still lacking to bring this system to optimal productivity. Oxygenation, a key aspect for maximum growth, is a serious problem for our external tanks. This requires and oxygen compressor akin to what you may have seen in domestic fish tanks, only on a much larger scale. Furthermore, an additional external tank for growing and fattening male fish is necessary for the continued growth of this enterprise. The oxygenation system costs around $1,000 and the large external tank runs north of $2,000.
There is a huge market for this commodity in Northern Morazán, so continual development of aquaculture at Amún Shéa can provide a huge financial benefit for the school. Furthermore, the educational and vocational opportunities provided by this system are hugely promising for our students. We hope that you see the importance of this project and elect to continue supporting us in our mission to bring high quality, life-changing education to the children of Northern Morazán. Thank you for your support.
All photo credit goes to Xochilt Pocasangre.
Students and mentors setting up the net
Samuel explaining how to handle the tilapia
A successful fishing expedition
Weighing the fish
Measuring the fish