From king crab to New England cod, the world’s voracious appetite for seafood has seriously depleted wild-caught stocks of popular species. While nations have been looking to fish farming as a sustainable way to manage the resource, now thanks to Igor Tsukrov and his colleagues in the Open Ocean Aquaculture Engineering group at UNH, large-scale success may be close.
Tsukrov is the mind behind the design of path-breaking numerical models that can predict the stresses and strains exerted by an ocean’s great might on materials used in the construction of fish farm cages. “Open ocean aquaculture is a global movement,” says Tsukrov. “So our technology is used worldwide.”
Tsukrov is a true citizen of the world. Since arriving at UNH 13 years ago from his native Ukraine, he has set up student exchange and research collaborations with universities and industry partners in Germany, France, and Canada, as well as Norway, a leader in open ocean aquaculture.
Top talent flocks to his labs in Kingsbury Hall, where he conducts materials science research, and Jere A. Chase Ocean Engineering Lab. Fellow countryman Andrew Drach came to UNH to work on a “first ever” offshore fish cage built with copper netting, a departure from the traditional nylon that promises vastly improved durability and efficiency. “What is spectacular about this project is that we are pioneering the technology here together and then implementing it in Chile, Turkey, and other regions,” says Drach.
In 2005, Tsukrov used a Fulbright Fellowship to help students in post-apartheid South Africa become excited about science. Today, the soccer-playing scientist at home seemingly anywhere on the planet is using a grant from the National Science Foundation to work with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany on better understanding of carbon-carbon composites while planning a collaboration with Frederick Research Centre in Cyprus to choose the best fish cage mooring designs for the developing Cyprus offshore aquaculture industry.