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Building on history: Netherlands city steps forward into future of fish farming

September 13, 2017

The Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre recently opened its doors following extensive investment to establish it as a “global hub of excellence for aqua research.”

The center is ideally located for aquaculture research in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, which has a rich aquaculture history. It was there that, at the beginning of the 20th century, two Dutch entrepreneurs, the mayor of Valkenswaard and Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerken, began to build ponds specifically for fish farming. These ponds mostly contained carp. A few decades later, a company called Heidemij (later Arcadis) began producing fish there, and during the 1940s, other fish were introduced specifically for the growing angling market in the Netherlands.

During the 1950s, the Organization for the Improvement of Inland Fisheries (OVB) produced fish in Valkenswaard for the purposes of restocking inland waters in the Netherlands. After OVB discontinued their efforts in 2002, Valkenswaard returned to commercial aquaculture activities with the production of ornamental fish by Viskweekcentrum Valkenswaard BV and research and development carried out by the Coppens Research Centre.

Valkenswaard so thoroughly established itself as an aquaculture center that it even has a species of carp named in its honor! De Valkenswaardse spiegelkarper, or the Valkenswaard mirror carp, has scales resembling small mirrors and can grow to be more than 60 pounds.

For more than a century, Valkenswaard has been central to Dutch aquaculture. Now, the new Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre sets the stage for Valkenswaard to take on a new and even more global role in shaping the future of modern aquaculture.