UMF starts up Public Classroom Series with talk on fish farming, future

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FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington will once again welcome the public to the UMF Public Classroom Series, a selection of informative and insightful talks and discussions by university faculty exploring contemporary issues.

This semester’s first talk is “What’s on Your Dinner Plate? A Story of Fisheries, Fish Farming and the Future,” by Timothy Breton, UMF assistant professor of biology. The program will take place at 6:30 p.m., with refreshments at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the UMF Emery Community Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

Breton’s talk will explore how many wild fisheries in the U.S. are stagnant or in decline, while demand for seafood continues to increase. A large proportion of seafood consumption now comes from imports, which has resulted in a seafood trade deficit over $14 billion in 2016.

To reduce reliance on seafood imports and meet increasing needs, recent efforts have focused on developing fish farming, or aquaculture. In many cases, however, relatively little is known about the biology, dynamics or optimal growing strategies for a particular fish or seaweed. Often, fishermen, farmers and researchers work closely to develop better techniques and grow emerging commercial industries.

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Breton’s research aims to understand the genetics and physiology of diverse marine species, and to apply that knowledge for future gains in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. His talk will introduce the problems facing fisheries and aquaculture today, and what research is being conducted across the country, and in Farmington, to find solutions.

At UMF Breton teaches human anatomy and physiology courses, as well as bioinformatics and endocrinology classes for biology majors. His interests focus on the intersection of fish physiology and molecular biology, with applications to fisheries and aquaculture, or fish farming. 

Breton has conducted diverse research on many commercially important fish, including Atlantic cod, summer flounder, black sea bass, rainbow smelt and alewives. He recently received funding through the Maine Economic Improvement Fund to study sugar kelp aquaculture in Downeast Maine, in collaboration with the University of Maine at Machias.

Originally from Massachusetts, Breton received a master’s and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire before joining UMF in 2015.

The UMF Public Classroom Series is sponsored by the UMF Office of the President.

Timothy Breton

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