Several Alabama catfish producers attended the recent ribbon cutting ceremony for Auburn University’s new Center for Aquatic Resource Management, a $9 million addition to the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture’s E.W. Shell Fisheries Research Center.

“This center is going to bring some of the technology to the fish farm here at Auburn that has been lacking,” said Dallas County catfish producer Butch Wilson, who also serves as president of Catfish Farmers of America.

The center, which consists of a 17,000 square-foot laboratory and a 20,000-square-foot administrative building, will offer cutting-edge aquatic research facilities, enhanced classroom environments and improved community education opportunities.

The laboratory building houses fish tanks and state-of-the art labs, including several climate-controlled wet labs that allow for year-round research.

The administrative building includes office space, a teaching lab, a hatchery, a meeting room that will be available to campus and civic groups, classrooms, a 6,354-square-foot fish holding area and a market for sales to the public.

“The catfish industry right now is where the chickens were in the 1950s and 1960s," Wilson said. "We need to accelerate the improvement process, and I think this will help."

Auburn Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture Extension Specialist Jesse Chappell said the department plans to do just that.