Mote senior scientist honored as White House Champion of Change

Kevan Main directs Mote’s Aquaculture Research Park

Kevin Main. Image contributed by Mote
Kevin Main. Image contributed by Mote

On Oct. 7, Dr. Kevan Main, senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota was among 12 people from across the country honored in Washington, D.C., as “White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood,” Mote announced.

Main, who serves as director of the 200-acre Mote Aquaculture Research Park, is past president and a current member of the World Aquaculture Society, a Mote news release says. She has led Mote’s aquaculture research efforts since 2001, “guiding the development of Mote’s inland, re-circulating aquaculture systems that raise marine fish while recycling 100 percent of the salt water and using fish wastes to fertilize salt-loving plants,” the release adds.

“The Champions of Change program allows the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities,” the release points out.

The 12 Champions of Change promote sustainable seafood through commercial enterprises, conservation, management and research, the release explains. Main is one of just two Champions working in aquaculture.

More than half the world’s seafood is supplied by aquaculture, with many wild fish stocks overfished and declining, but U.S. marine aquaculture — fish farming — produces far less seafood than aquaculture in Asia, Europe, Canada, Central and South America. More than 91 percent of U.S.-consumed seafood is imported, the release notes.

“Since 2005,” Main says in the release, “my research program at Mote Marine Laboratory has investigated how to integrate plants and fish into recirculating aquaculture systems — including saltwater systems that recycle 100 percent of their water. This is a great way to produce two crops using the same nutrient resource, increasing environmental and economic sustainability.”

Before joining Mote, Main worked in the American Pacific Islands and numerous countries throughout Asia to expand the U.S. aquaculture industry, the release continues. She was the first director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture regional aquaculture center in Hawaii — the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture. In February, she was honored with the Fellow of the World Aquaculture Society Award.