The Aquaculture Research Station (ARS), a state-of-the-art facility and one of the largest in the United States, is on the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station's Ben Hur Research Farm about 3 miles from the Louisiana State University campus. The ARS has a 22,000 square foot laboratory and office facility, where aquaculture faculty, research associates and graduate students are housed. There are 146 experimental ponds, ranging in size from 0.02 to 17.0 acres and totaling 100 surface acres, more than 200 outdoor fiberglass pools, a fish hatchery and a greenhouse. These facilities are used in research projects with crawfish, catfish, hybrid striped bass, tilapia and other species of value to Louisiana producers. Projects at the station involve research dealing with feeds and nutrition, genetics and breeding, water management, physiology, production systems, fish health and virtually every other discipline involved in commercial production of aquaculture species.
Dr. Robert C. Reigh whose research expertise is in aquatic animal nutrition, is the Resident Director. Other faculty include: Dr. Greg Lutz, aquaculture Extension; Dr. Christopher C. Green, reproductive physiology of aquatic species; Dr. Robert P. Romaire, water quality and crawfish production; and Dr. Terrence R. Tiersch, breeding and genetic improvement of aquacultural species.
The Aquaculture Research Station was created from an existing research program in the School of Renewable Natural Resources
, formerly the School of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries in the LSU College of Agriculture, where aquaculture teaching and research had been conducted for more than 30 years.
History of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Program at LSU
Following World War II, there was an interest in establishing a fisheries program to augment the recently formed wildlife program in the LSU Department of Forestry. In 1949, two fisheries courses, Pond and Stream Management 125 and Pond and Stream Management 126, were added to the wildlife curriculum. These courses were taught by Dr. Bryant Bateman, who, in addition to teaching the new courses, began conducting field work in pond management. Dr. Bateman seined local ponds, checked them for species balance and made management recommendations. Dr. Ray Allison, then at LSU, and Mr. Bob Webb and Mr. Russ Fielding of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Atlanta, Georgia, occasionally assisted Dr. Bateman in this work.
As the interest in fisheries increased, the decision was made to hire a trained fisheries biologist. On November 2, 1959, Dr. Jess Muncy was hired to teach the two fisheries courses and organize fisheries research. That year, Pond and Stream Management 125 was changed to Limnology 125. At the time of Dr. Muncy's arrival, there were six graduate students in the wildlife and fisheries program. In 1962, the first Master of Science degree in fisheries was granted. In 1963, Ichthyology 121 was added to the teaching program. Dr. Muncy taught all three fisheries courses in the then School of Forestry and Wildlife Management until June 1965, when he left the faculty. Between 1959 to 1965, five students earned the Master of Science in fisheries under Dr. Muncy's supervision.
The Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit was established at LSU on June 26, 1963, with Mr. William H. Herke as acting unit leader. Dr. R. O’Neal Smitherman became unit leader February 27, 1964. The creation of the LSU unit brought the total number of Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units in the United States to 11. Today there are 39 such units in operation across the country.