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PD/A CRSP Aquanews-Summer 2002

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Graduate Student Profile: Fred Chu

by Steve Sempier

red Chu, a native of Peru, first learned of the PD/A CRSP while working in the Peruvian Amazon for Terra Nuova, an Italian nongovernmental organization. Terra Nuova’s activity focuses on aquaculture development in the region. While working with Terra Nuova, Chu was approached by Chris Kohler, a PD/A CRSP Principal Investigator at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC), who is a collaborative partner with Peruvian counterparts at the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana (IIAP) and the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana, both in Iquitos, Peru. Kohler invited Chu to pursue a Ph.D. at SIUC.

PD/A CRSP graduate student Fred Chu.
Chu accepted Kohler’s proposal. He has spent the past year at SIUC improving his English skills. As of this summer Chu will be officially enrolled as an SIUC Ph.D. student and will begin his field research. Chu will be studying the use of over 15 native Amazonian plants that are currently being utilized as a source of nutrition for Colossoma macropomum and Piaractus brachypomus for small-scale aquaculture application. Plants such as lady finger banana, cashew, papaya, and yucca will be analyzed. Often seeds are consumed with the fruit of these plants and later defecated. Chu will delve further into this issue and study the dispersal potential of the plant seeds via fish feces. His work is part of the Feeds and Fertilizer project (10FFR1) titled, “Nutrition of Colossoma macropomum and Piaractus brachypomus.” The project focuses entirely on Peruvian Amazon aquaculture but may have further reaching implications.

The Peruvian Amazon is an excellent area for aquaculture. Chu notes several reasons why the Peruvian Amazon is an ideal location for aquaculture: the extremely high fish consumption per capita (the highest in Peru), water in abundance, land, a growing market, a growing interest in aquaculture, and ultimately there is strong political support to develop this activity. Chu also notes that he first gained interest in aquaculture because of its economic growth in the area and its benefit to ecological systems due to the reduced pressure on natural stocks. Although there is motivation for aquaculture development, Chu notes several constraints. They include lack of basic information on the biology, physiology, and nutritional requirements of the cultured fish; poor technology transfer to farmers; few professionals acting in an extension capacity; and low availability of fry.

Chu will be working with many individuals who are active in the PD/A CRSP project. He appreciates support from several PD/A CRSP researchers as he pursues his Ph.D. Chu identifies Kohler, William Camargo (Coordinator of the PD/A CRSP Peru project), and Fernando Alcántara at IIAP as important contributors to his work. In fact, Chu will return to Peru and work at IIAP after he obtains his Ph.D.

Chu plans to live in Peru after he completes degree requirements but is also open to future opportunities in an academic or research setting in Brazil or the US. For now, he is focused on his project and classes and tries to find free time to play Peruvian and Latin American songs on his guitar with his friends.

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