Juvenile cods in a unit of a fish farm
Juvenile cods in a unit of a fish farm - 
Listen To The Story


Scott Jagow: Wild fish stocks around the world are facing depletion. So fish farming has become an important part of the seafood industry. But keeping farm fish from escaping can be very difficult. Jeremy Hobson introduces us to Pavlov's fish.

Jeremy Hobson: The problem, says Scott Lindell at the Marine Biological Lab is that Hatchery fish -- when released into the ocean to grow:

Scott Lindell: Will scatter, panic, sometimes be more prone to predation.

And all that farming is for nothing. So Lindell wants to train them to stay close.

Fish respond to noise. Japanese researchers have used sound to train farmed fish to stay within certain boundaries. Lindell wants his fish to associate a certain tone with food. Can you do the noise for us, Scott?

Lindell: Haha, I'll try. Doooo . . .

I dunno -- will it work as well as Bert and Ernie's fish call?

Bert: Here fishy fishy fishy fishy!

Jim Kendall is skeptical. He's a former fisherman who now runs a seafood consulting company in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He says the idea has logistical problems.

Jim Kendall: You're just escalating your costs. You have very little control over weather, or even other animals -- or even fishermen for that matter.

Kendall's skepticism may be proved right -- or wrong -- when testing starts in May.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson