USA.- Katie McCann, a graduate student of aquaculture/fisheries at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), recently won awards from two of the most prominent national aquaculture and fisheries associations. She received both the awards for her research on minimizing the use of fish meal in the diets of hybrid striped bass.
The Fish Culture Section of the American Fisheries Society awarded her the best student abstract travel award. The $450 award funded her travel to the Aquaculture Triennial Meeting, recently held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“The Aquaculture 2019 Triennial Meeting combined the annual meetings of the World Aquaculture Society, National Shellfisheries Association, Fish Culture Section of the American Fisheries Society and the National Aquaculture Association,” McCann said. “Since nearly 4,000 people attended the conference, it really helped me gain more industry connections and network for potential jobs.”
At the conference, McCann won first-place for student oral presentation. She received a $1,000 prize and a certificate of recognition from the U.S. Aquaculture Society.
McCann’s research project is conducted in conjunction with the Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, where she works with Steven Rawles, animal physiologist-fish nutritionist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
“Katie benefited greatly from the research collaboration between UAPB and the ARS aquaculture unit in Stuttgart,” Dr. Rebecca Lochmann, chair of the UAPB Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries, said. “She has distinguished herself with these awards and will have a variety of attractive job offers when she completes her degree.”
McCann’s thesis focuses on minimizing the fish meal used in the diets of sunshine bass. When sunshine bass are cultured in commercial settings, feed costs comprise upwards of 60 percent of total production costs, she said.
“Fish meal is still used at the inclusion level of about 25 percent in sunshine bass diets, but its use is declining due to high and volatile prices coupled with unsustainability, as wild stocks of small marine fishes such as herring and menhaden are in decline,” she said.
McCann tested the effectiveness of commercial protein concentrate blends from H.J. Baker & Bro., Inc., a private supplier of protein products for the for the animal agriculture industry, in the diets of sunshine bass. The products tested contained a mixture of animal and plant products.
“When combined, plant and terrestrial animal products often offer complementary amino acid profiles and preserve the palatability necessary for carnivorous fishes such as the sunshine bass,” she said. “At the same time, overall feed costs are reduced.”
A native of Wichita Falls, Texas, McCann earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in chemistry from the Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
“I have always had an interest in hunting, fishing and the outdoors since a young age, and that passion eventually lead me to where I am today,” she said. “I remember having a carp scale collection in my garage when I was 5 years old and dissecting fish all day at my grandparents’ lake house.”
McCann said she changed her major in college five times before she realized she could eventually make a living working with fish. After she graduates from UAPB with her master’s degree in December 2019, she plans to pursue a career in aquaculture nutrition in either the private or public sector.