Return to Headlines

WHS Alumnus Reveals Emergent Ways to Sustainably Source Food During Visit to IB Environmental Science Class

Simply put, Nick Liveris (Class of 2019) grows fish. What’s more complicated is the science behind it and an understanding of an industry that is shifting towards practices that focus on sustainability. Nick spoke to students in Ms. Belfiore’s IB Environmental Science class is about the aquaculture industry and the work he is doing in aquatic food management. “Nick was a very successful student during his time at Woodlands,” said Ms. Belfiore. “When the opportunity presented itself to have him come in to present to students about the exciting and innovative work he is doing in a relatively new area of Environmental Science, I jumped on it.”

Nick works at Hudson Valley Fisheries, an aquaculture industry based in Hudson, NY. The fishery is known for growing steelhead trout, also known as salmon’s tastier cousin. They use land-based environments to reduce fishing pressures on over-harvested stocks while still meeting consumer demand. “There are three pillars of Fishery Management,” he told Greenburgh students. “Science, because it informs every decision; species and stock selection; and equipment—which makes a big difference in efficiency and effectiveness.”

The IB students learned about the staggering numbers related to the seafood industry, including how much is consumed by country, supply costs, and yearly revenues. However, Nick’s real interest lies in the management of the environments and systems that will better support practices that will ultimately protect both our sea life and the industry as a business. “I enjoy having direct control of the environment,” he said. One interesting fact, that was surprising to learn, was the amount of time it takes to grow a steelhead trout. “It takes two years from nursery, juvenile, smolt, purge, and grow-out phases before they are ready for market,” he said. “To give you an idea of the scope, we produce about 500-600 metric tons of fish per year.”

By using an advanced technology called Recirculating Aqua Systems (RAS), Nick explained to students the advantages of RAS over traditional fish farming methods. This inland biosecure facility ensures the fish are protected from predators and free of diseases, which eliminates the need for antibiotics or hormones. Additional benefits are the ability to treat and reuse water, and a land-based facility means closer proximity to markets, which reduces the carbon footprint as compared to offshore farms and fishing boats.

At the end of class, Ms. Belfiore and Nick reminisced about his accomplishments at Woodlands High School, including the one-mile WHS Fit Trail he made that starts at the entrance to WMHS for his W.I.S.E. project. “Environmental science has always been a passion for me. Other favorite subjects included Biology, World and U.S. History, and Calculus,” he said as they walked down the hallway on the third floor of WHS in search of Mr. Tokarski and Mr. Smith, two of his favorite Woodlands teachers.