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Perch, patented: UW Sea Grant scientist awarded patent on groundbreaking spawning method

Fred Binkowski, senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institue’s aquaculture specialist, figured out a way to get yellow perch to spawn year round, creating the potential for both fully stocked Friday fish fries in Wisconsin and a providing the year-round production of perch fingerlings. 

“This will be a significant benefit for the developing urban aquaculture industry,”  Binkowski said.

The United States Patent Office, through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation, has awarded Binkowski a patent on the process of out-of-cycle spawning for yellow perch.

Binkowski’s work was developed in part from outreach projects that began back in 1996. By manipulating water temperature and photoperiod in fish tanks at UWM’s Great Lakes WATER Institute, Binkowski was able to trick the yellow perch, which normally only spawn in April and May in Wisconsin, to spawn year round. Breeding the fish in captivity also carries the benefit of dramatically increasing survival.

“We were able to do this using only photothermal manipulation,” said Binkowski. “Both scientifically and economically, this is a huge thing. The yellow perch has strong name recognition, and it is part of the historical tradition of Wisconsin Friday night fish fries.” 

In the coming year, Binkowski intends to research whether his method can also work effectively to modify the spawning habits of other Great Lakes fish for commercial aquaculture.

Binkowski said he “is confident that the technique would work to produce spawning perch any month of the calendar.”