Alcorn signs agreement to form the Mississippi Blue Crab Aquaculture Consortium

Alcorn signs agreement to form the Mississippi Blue Crab Aquaculture Consortium

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Department of Marine Resources, along with Alcorn State University and University of Southern Mississippi signed a collaborative agreement to form the Mississippi Blue Crab Aquaculture Consortium, according to the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Laboratory Public Information Office.

The signing ceremony was held at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on Monday, October 22, 2012. Dr. Dalton McAfee, extension administrator, and Dr. Franklin Chukwuma, off-campus centers coordinator, both from Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP), attended.

Goals of the consortium include establishing a Center for Development and Outreach/Technical Assistance to serve as a resource by identifying participant farmers; expanding current hatchery capacity to increase seed crab availability; decreasing production to develop marketing strategies for a domestic product; and evaluating economic feasibility.

“It takes a total of 90 days for the blue crabs to be ready for restaurant marketing, and they are in great demand at restaurants, as well as public seafood markets,” Dr. McAfee said. “Our University’s involvement in the blue crab industry is to introduce new enterprises and to give more cutting edge information to small farmers. “

According to Dr. McAfee, blue crabs can be produced in small ponds. However, the content of the water would have to be changed in order to grow the crabs. Alcorn will consider changing the water content of an existing pond on the campus or construct a new one in order to grow the crabs.

“We would like to employ a specialist in aquaculture and begin to revive the aquaculture area of the agricultural department,” McAfee said. “We would, also, like to work jointly together with NRCS to seek grant funding.”
The University will be raising feed stock, which will open opportunities for students to get involved and serve as interns. Demonstrations and learning sites will also be available at the Alcorn State Experiment Station in order to inform and reach out to small farmers. The involvement of Alcorn State in the blue crab industry can have a major influence on small farmers in reference to informing them on how this industry is a major production, as well as, a commercial product by providing them with a new niche, McAfee concluded.

For more information on the blue crab industry, please contact Dr. McAfee at 601-877-6128, toll-free 877-427-9536 or [email protected].