Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coalition Forces Aid Fish Farms, Hatcheries

Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, from Holland, Ohio, commander of the 3rd BSTB, explains to Michael Torreano, from Iron Mountain, Mich., USAID representative to the 3rd BCT's ePRT, how quickly fish are growing in a pond at a fish hatchery in Gorzia, Iraq, on April 18.

By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Members of the U.S. Agency for International Development are developing a plan to provide equipment and supplies to fish farms and hatcheries in the Mada’in Qada.

According to Michael Torreano, USAID representative to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s embedded provincial reconstruction team, USAID will hold a meeting with leaders of the 3rd BCT to discuss the community stability project. The project will provide items such as fish, feed and equipment to these businesses.

Torreano, from Iron Mountain, Mich., and Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, from Holland, Ohio, commander of the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, visited a fish hatchery in the town of Gorzia to assess the owners’ needs.

The hatchery is fairly small with a number of growing ponds nearby. The building had two spawning tanks and equipment for handling the eggs and tiny spawn, he said. The primary type of fish in the hatchery is carp.

The owners of the hatchery said their biggest need is carp pituitary hormone.

Torreano explained the hormones increase fertility of the female resulting in the production of more eggs therefore increasing chances to spawn.

At the hatcheries, fish are bred then the eggs are taken out to hatch, Torreano said. When the eggs hatch they are taken to a pond to grow into fingerlings.

Fish farmers buy the fingerlings and, after they grow into adult carp, are sold at markets.

“In this area fish farming is not a thriving industry,” Torreano said. “Fish are in high demand and they also help the health of the locals as a good source of protein.”

Torreano said fish farming and hatcheries are also economically viable. The work can be done with existing technology, and related businesses like feed mills and delivery companies can profit from thriving farms.

The 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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