The Urban Aquaculture Center (UAC) intends to build and operate Milwaukee’s first large-scale urban aquaculture production facility. Through the process we will expose the enterprise potential of this emerging industry, introducing the general public to urban fish farming through an educational center focusing on aquaculture and hydroponics. Our five-acre campus will include greenhouses, ponds, and a new sustainable building which will house demonstration fish tanks that can be replicated in the community. The final facility will house a restaurant, fish market, gift shop, and a “lazy river” boat ride that will meander through exhibits showcasing sustainable urban farming practices such as aquaponics and polyculture, providing “edutainment” value and marking the Center as a regional and national destination.
The production facility, built on 50,000 square feet of floor space containing 200,000 gallons of municipal water in 20 circular holding tanks, will utilize a recirculating aquaculture system. The water, treated with clarifiers, filters, or trays of edible plants, will then be reused by the fish. This system can produce quantities of fish many times greater than fish grown in rural ponds. Our facility will produce yellow perch, primarily because of its popularity in the region and scarcity in Lake Michigan. We fully expect that the production facility profits will sustain the educational center, creating new jobs for fish meat processors, restaurant service, market sales, and facility staff.
This concept is intended as a national prototype, giving Milwaukee an opportunity to be identified with growth of urban aquaculture in the United States. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recently stated: “Aquaculture, probably the fastest growing food producing sector, now accounts for almost 50 percent of the world’s food fish and is perceived as having the greatest potential to meet the growing demand for aquatic food.” The FAO further states that China produces over 70 percent of the world’s aquaculture, whereas all of North America produces less than 2 percent. The US should be growing a greater proportion of fish locally to reduce the carbon footprint involved with imported fish and to lead us towards food supply independence.
The UAC is partnering with Growing Power, the Great Lakes WATER Institute, and other public and private organizations that will help finance and promote this opportunity for the City of Milwaukee.