WOW Storytellings in Print and on Film

A report following the study of AI’s capabilities as they relate to the publishing work of World of Water through its imprint, Little People Books.

(Above) Result of AI prompt for a back cover spread of ‘The Gathering’  (Author: Paul Stanley)

As the Editor of our charity’s publishing imprint, Little People Books,    I am excited to present the findings of our comprehensive 4-month study into the utilization of AI in publishing, with a particular focus on illustrated storybooks for young children.
Commissioned by World of Water, this groundbreaking exploration delved into critical subjects including environmental awareness, water in space, personal wellbeing, literacy and sustainability, plus the intriguing search for useable water on other planets.

(Above) AI version of data hub for IWAC [International Water Awareness Centre]

The project commenced with rigorous text-to-text research with ChatGPT. This initial phase provided a solid foundation, enabling us to craft engaging narratives to resonate with a variety of young audiences – each age group being analysed using AI rather than human focus groups.

For example, we were able to generate a story using this minimal prompt:  “Write a story about two fun fictitious characters living for the chance of appearing in their own book whilst having to work on producing graphic novels full of other less interesting OC’s”. We were then able to paste the story into a series of other AI programme to get Readability Grade Levels and Readability Scores. For example, the story generated by AI for the above prompt scored the following:

Readability Grade Levels:
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 14.3
Gunning Fog Index 16.3
Coleman-Liau Index 16.3
SMOG Index 15.8
Automated Readability Index 14.4
FORCAST Grade Level 12.6
Powers Sumner Kearl Grade 6.9
Rix Readability 12
Raygor Readability n/a
Fry Readability n/a

Readability Scores:
Readable Rating E
Flesch Reading Ease 23.2
CEFR Level C2
IELTS Level 8+
Spache Score 7.0
New Dale-Chall Score 8.4
Lix Readability 57
Lensear Write 62.9

This instant AI analysis facility made it simpler to adapt the original story into several similar versions, each matching a slightly different audience profile.

(Above) AI generated image using Little People Books ‘Dinolad’ story as prompt

Moving beyond text-to-text, we looked at Midjourney and for text-to-image. Initially, we found the results were not seamless – on close inspection, every image had some flaws. If you look carefully at the leg joints of the dinosaur (image above) you’ll see they are both inaccurate and impossible.

Whilst the AI produced captivating visuals, very few of them matched well with the illustration styles within our more traditional storytelling book list, but the latest updates allow us to upload our own illustrations and get AI to use them as style references.

We concluded that the greatest benefit of generating titles using AI will come from AI’s real time interactive ability to provide each of our readers with their own personalised story experience, somewhere close to their real life using immersive augmented reality. We read a few articles about AI neural link research but nothing suggested as yet that these would accept externally generated stories in the near future. It appears more likely in the near future that AI neural links may lead to an abstract dream-to-video AI application.

(Above)  “The Earth That Time Forgot” prompt by Midjourney AI

With our movie director hat on, we tested audio prompt for video, leveraging AI to ‘extract’ story from illustrations and animate simple images into bite sized movie sequences.

As the editing style of most modern film and TV progs. is to use quick cuts between rapidly changing scenes, AI productions like THIS using Sora fit the mood of the present market and this style is already in common use on platforms like TikTok. Youtube shorts,Instagram and Reels. Other signs of the trend to shorten communication include texting and emoji use.

During our research we listened to many views on the future of AI.  The most interesting view came from Max Tegmark, a renowned physicist and AI researcher leading MIT’s AI Lab: We humans have built our identity on being Homo Sapiens, the smartest entities around. As we prepare to be humbled by ever smarter machines, I suggest that we rebrand ourselves as Homo Sentiens.”

AI Literacy
Once upon a medieval time when people used the mark of “X”, it was because they were simply illiterate, but as human intelligence is always evolving, those who now “X” are simply those who once tweeted on Twitter. Though the use of “X” for Twitter is probably the shortest example of language abbreviation in recent times, Samuel Morse as early as 1836 designed code that reduced the letter E to a mere dot “.” (or dit) and the letter T to a dash “-” (or dah) – a very binary design which when extended to the full alphabet paved the way towards the development of binary language, computing and AI.

Our research findings suggest that the widespread promotion of word and sentence shortening has resulted in greater human illiteracy and the rapid uptake of AI applications.  Initially this seems to be a backwards step but the use of AI by so many has given it a data set par excellence  to number-crunch at speeds beyond human capabilities.

As AI controlled robots are now performing so many physical jobs faster than humans, our role as humans is set for a re-write.

(Above) Generated by a two word AI prompt in June 2023, “My Library”.

Our publishing imprint
If painting, carving, handwriting and other crafting skills stay afloat into the future, then bookbinding will survive so long as it keeps its head above water.  For the image above we used a two word prompt, ‘my library’ and you can see that through the ‘eyes’ of AI in June 2023 the resulting image included a library of books, or, if you are AI, a pattern in perspectives of thin multicoloured strips divided by receding brown lines.

Like an impressionist painter,  text-to-image AI apps mix ‘hues’ of visual and textual data in such a way that it makes a link in our minds. In the first week of our research we regularly changed text prompts before getting the results we wanted.  This took time but when you consider that AI regularly generates images in seconds that would take weeks to do manually, the few minutes used in re-writing prompts were of no concern.

Will WOW use AI to generate images for Little People Books?
There is one AI app that dropped a few months after our research period concluded that looks perfect for us and that’s a sketching app using predictive AI as you draw. This app also takes text prompts. From the vid we watched it interacts realtime with sketched line input so it’s like having a helping hand. I’ll post something about it after we’ve tried it.

Though using AI is nothing like working with an illustrator or author, it is an interesting tool and it can produce stunningly good quality images. When we concluded our research we launched a site specifically to share a few of our resulting publications. The site is not public access but here’s a slide show of some screen shots plus other images generated through text prompts:

(Above) Slide show of research artworks generated by AI using text prompts.

Output, output, output:
Throughout the course of our 4-month study, we achieved remarkable milestones, including the creation of over 50 captivating stories, the preparation of 10 engaging ebooks, the successful publication of 3 ebooks, and the launch of 2 print-on-demand books and colouring books.

Over the same 4-months however, thousands of other groups around the World used AI and produced a similar sized output. Print-on-demand houses were flooded with uploads and most needed to adopt some AI automation to cope with the deluge of raw, quick edited, low production value publications.

(Above) Prompt: “Robot surrounded by a network of linked icons in space”

The potential of AI in reshaping the landscape of children’s publishing.

Our journey was not without its challenges. While AI has revolutionized the creative process, it has created its own hurdles – ones that still demand human attention. Foremost among these challenges is the need to look carefully at AI generated images and check them for digital idiosyncrasies – the sort that a human illustrator would never make. Though AI came to its own rescue with ‘inpainting’, our photoshop skills remain in constant demand both inhouse and for our linked charities.

Whilst AI may not replicate the nuanced understanding and emotional depth that human authors bring to their work, it generates a vast variety of content, and faster than any group of humans. Our charity for example needed the wording for a specific legal document and not only did it AI produce the ideal document in seconds but it also worked in saving our charity time and funds.

(Above)  Prompt: “Busy Street Scene in New Media City”


With CCTV cameras and screens filling up our city high streets, there’s a big concern surrounding privacy. With AI, the concern includes algorithmic bias and intellectual property rights. We all need to be careful as we navigate the evolving landscape of AI-driven publishing and AI controlled smart cities, but, we also need to take care when appointing humans into positions of power.

Luckily, our new Mayor in Pembroke is Councillor Ann Mortensen whose goals include “improving the aesthetic of the town” and “leaning into the history of the town“. As the medieval burgage plot in Pembroke owned by World of Water dates back to before 1324 AD., we’ll be celebrating this 700 year anniversary with our first exhibition to feature AI: ‘The Story of Pembroke’s Marine History’.

Will WOW be using AI in their Exhibition Designs?
Generally, yes, AI will be of use in producing themed display ideas that our designers may never imagine.  But ‘not in the detail’, because if you look at the following AI image of exhibits very closely, you’ll find that AI has fudged the detail and not understood the picture it is generating. Take a close look –  it’s un-real, hard to construct, but it’s interesting nevertheless.

Whereas, in our Museum of

Re-Design, Decomposition and Decay

all the exhibits have had a practical life – this marine mooring for example:

and this post under a seafront sign:

Exhibitions on Film using AI
Our exhibitions on marine and freshwater subjects have historically been mounted all over the UK on tour but from our 2025 season onwards, they will be filmed and published on our YouTube channel.

With a small film crew and basic filming and editing equipment we’re hoping to use some AI for audio-to-video,  elevenlabs AI for voiceovers and vochlea for music scores.

Despite the various challenges, our study of AI yielded overwhelmingly positive results, supported by customer feedback from focus groups. Parents and educators alike lauded the educational value and engaging storytelling found within our AI-generated storybooks.

Moreover, our efforts to tackle pressing issues such as environmental sustainability and personal well-being were met with resounding acclaim, underscoring the profound impact of literature in shaping young minds and fostering a sense of social responsibility, regardless of the techniques and tools used in the making and the telling.

In conclusion, our foray into AI-powered publishing has been nothing short of transformative, reaffirming our commitment to innovation and excellence in children’s literature.
As we chart a course for the future, we remain steadfast in our dedication to harnessing the power of AI to inspire, educate, and empower the next generation of readers.

About Us

Little People Books is dedicated to igniting the curiosity and passion for knowledge in children. With a range of captivating materials, we offer an exciting journey that not only educates but also empowers young minds to understand the world around them.

As an imprint of the educational UK charity, World of Water (WoW), Little People Books holds a deep commitment to positive education. We firmly believe that by instilling a sense of wonder and understanding in our children, we can shape attitudes and foster a desire to improve the quality of life and living.

By delving into engaging stories and media, we inspire a profound appreciation for the environment – clean air, clean land, and clean water – essential for a healthier and happier global community.

Join us as we embark on this important mission to create a brighter future.
With our integrated materials, we aim to empower parents, teachers, and carers alike, equipping them with the tools to nurture young minds and guide children towards a deeper understanding of the wonders of life.

Together, we can inspire a generation of compassionate, informed, and environmentally-conscious individuals who are ready to make a positive impact on the world.

Update ref:  2024.000159/2



Editors: Grant J. Jesse and  A.A. Casey (World of Water, UK.) First pub. World of Water. 1985 and last updated Dec. 2024.

Includes notes on Medieval Fish Farming in Britain  by The Late Richard A. St.George and Jane Bryant Dip.ARch., Reg.Arch..

Medieval Fishponds and Water Engineering Systems : The Late M.Aston BA FSA MIFA; R.Iles BA; R.Chambers; Dr.C.Dyer BA; C.J. Bond BA FSA MIFA; S.Rippon PhD.


Period 2852 B.C. to 2737 B.C. The first of China’s five Emperors, developed some knowledge of pond culture of Grey Mullet and Carp.

From 2357 B.C. to 2205 B.C., the Emperors of China, Yao and Shun, appointed the World’s first recorded Fishery Inspectors and Instructors.

2052-1786 B.C. Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom worked to culture fish in an intensive way. They certainly domesticated sea fishes to supply the luxurious tables of their richer houses; they also appointed special “Fish Keepers” to do the Fish Husbandry

In 475 B.C., Fan Li (Also known as Fau Lai and Fan Lee) wrote a classic book on the “cult of the Carp”. ( Read more )

Circa 100 B.C., the Roman ‘Sergius Orata’ developed Oyster Beds at Baiae on the Lucrine Sea  (“In 95 B.C. Sergius Orata successfully established a large oyster cultivation area at Lake Lucrine”)

Circa 65 B.C., the Roman General ‘Lucullus’ built the Fish Ponds of Tusculum, near the Bay of Naples. There’s a fun Circular Fish (Breeding?) pond at Lago di Paola ( See picture to Right) but so far I have no idea who built it.  It took many centuries for the circular pond to catch on, now many fish farmers use them regularly.

Further reading: Piscinae. Artificial Fishponds in Roman Italy. By James Higginbotham. Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-3604-0  Published by The University of North Carolina Press. September 2012. More on Roman Aquaculture.

First Century A.D., the Roman ‘Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella‘ produced a ‘Treatise on Roman Pisciculture’ (Read more)

9th Century remains of river weirs have been discovered in the UK

960 A.D. to 1276 A.D., the Goldfish originated after work on selective  cross-breeding during this Sung Dynasty. MORE>

1060’s UK texts mention the expression “A fother of small rods built on the River Severn”. If you know what a “Fother” was, contact us

c.1086 A.D. According to the Doomsday Survey, the large scale construction of artificial fish ponds in the UK was introduced by the Normans following their 1066 Invasion.

1086 A.D., The monk pond of Timsbury Lake was well established; it is nowadays used as part of a carp farm. I visited during renovations.

12th Century. The Fish Ponds of Evesham Abbey (UK) were formed (“The larger north eastern fish pond is approximately 57m long by 8m wide and is separated from a second fishpond by a dam and leat.” MORE> )

1215 A.D. (UK) Magna Carta forbade obstructions to rivers caused by fishermans’s weirs

1229 A.D., the Romans started transforming the Great Lagoon of Comacchio on the Adriatic Sea, into Fish Ponds. These are still in use.

1235 A.D., Patrick Walton is said to have invented the “bouchot” method of mussel culture

14th Century: It is thought that shallow Prawn trapping-growing ponds were being built in Indonesia at this time.

14th Century: Records indicate the collapse of Yarmouth Herring Industry (UK) and a drop in supply of Sea Fish

Pre 1377 A.D .  kitchen accounts for Abingdon Abbey, UK.  (page ref. 38) it shows the purchase of herrings, eels, salmon, codling, haddock, smelt, lampreys, rocket or piper fish, oysters, sturgeon and mackerel. On page 40, it includes a payment for cleaning the fishponds. The 1388–9 Gardener’s Account for this same Abbey, indicates that the garden contained a fishpond and the gardener derived 12 shillings and 8 pence *   from fish sold. The Abbey’s Pittancer’s account for period 1322 – 3 includes  the cost of 9s 6d for ‘Fish bought for restocking the fishpond and another figure of 2s 2d spent in ‘feeding the fish’. [Source: R.E.G. Kirk (ed.), ‘Accounts of the Obedientiars of Abingdon Abbey’, Camden Society. New series. Vol. 51 (1892) ]  *[old currency prior to decimalisation in the UK – often written as 12/- and 8d or when combined 12/8d … there were 240 old pennies and twenty shillings to the £ sterling pound – twelve old pennies to the shilling! ]

1396 (May), The Abbot of Tewksbury (UK) and many more were taken to court for having illegal fish weirs (They all got off on technicalities)

In a 1420 A.D. manuscript (unpublished until 1850), Dom Pichon, a French Monk of the Abbey of Reome, outlines the process of “Artificial fecundation and hatching of fish eggs”.

In 1496 A.D. Dame Juliana Berners published “A Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle” . Reference to Carp in UK is made therein.

15th and 16th Century records show sea fish on sale inland at Coventry Market (UK)

In the early 1500’s, Prior Morton of Worcester, was producing fish on a commercial scale and experimenting with carp. (Reported in “The high Middle Ages 1200 – 1550 by T.Rowley). Prior Mors’ journal of 1530 A.D. documents well the restocking of Fish ponds.

1530 AD (Prior Mors Journal, UK) documents the stocking of fish ponds. (Then: UK Dissolution of Monasteries 1535 to 1540 A.D. slows developments)

In 1547 or 1559 A.D., Ianus Dubravius de Piscinis (Bishop of Olmutz, Moravia) compiled the book ‘Study on Fish and Fish Husbandry’, (De piscinis et piscium, qui in eis aluntur natura. Pub. in Wrocław, 1547) covering in general terms, fish feeding, pond construction, plumbing, stocking for carp, tench, pike, trout and other freshwater fish.  A friend of mine and keen Sustainable Aquaculture enthusiast, mentions that Dubravius based his stuff on the work of the Greek, *Xenocrates. Anyway, it was published in Latin and then in 1599 A.D. (9th February) translated into English at the special request of George Churchey. A copy of this English edition must have got into the hands of John Taverner according to my notes from Richard St. George because Taverner’s lifts a fair (or maybe unfair) amount from this Churchey edition.

In 1590 A.D., Leonard Mascall published his ‘Booke of fishinge’. He was thought of by R.B.Maston, to be “The Pioneer of Fish Culture in England owing to his recipes for preserving fish spawn”.

In 1600 A.D. (22nd January) John Taverner’s ‘Certaine Experiments concerning Fish and Fruite’(W.Ponsonby,London. pp38) was printed. He contributed much to the information available in Europe through observing the natural courtship, spawning of carp but there’s no indication that he tried to control the breeding in any artificial ‘farmed’ manner. In 1968, Theatrum Orbis Terranum Ltd.(Amsterdam) and De Capo Press, New York,  published a facsimile of Taverner’s book.

In 1620 A.D., Japanese Oyster Culture started in the Hiroshima Perfecture. Have you more information on this? Contact us.

1639 A.D, ‘The Complete Book of Aquiculture’, by Hsu Kwang Chi (Ming Dynasty), was published. Was this ever re-printed? Let us know.

1683 A.D. Gervase Markham described in detail in his ‘Country Gentleman’s Handbook’, how to husband Roach, Dace, Minnows and Eels. He says (quote) that all big fish will food on “the inward garbage and blood of Sheepe, Calves and Hogges”.

1700 (circa) Bolivians develop a 500 square kilometre ‘fish farm’. In the late 1950s, Archaeologists find these earthworks in the Baures region of the Bolivian Amazon, but these are not recognised as a 300 year old system of weirs and pools for fish farming until the end of the Century when Clark Erickson of the University of Pennsylvania re-examines the site. Any updated views on this – send them on to us .

1713 (Sept.14th) The Honorable Roger North published ‘A Discourse of Fish and Fish Ponds'( E.Curll,London) concerning carp farming but a friend and fellow author on the subject, Richard St. George, tells me it’s mostly a copy of John Taverner’s work of 1600.

In 1755 (some reports say 1733) Stephen Ludvig Jacobi, Germany, noticed a decline in trout number on a stream running through his land. He eventually published his work on trout breeding in 1763 and 1765. His technique was to strip both hen and cock fish underwater and rear the eggs up to fry stage for restocking the Kallebach stream. Although his findings were translated into French (Duhamel) and Italian (Cavolini), they caused only a momentary stir.

1758 A.D., Count von Golstein, a German Naturalist, declares that he has re-discovered man’s ability to hatch fish eggs in artificial conditions – not that ‘man’ really does much in the process. Had he been spying on Stephen Jacobi?

1761 A.D., Lund in Sweden invented ‘the Lund Box’ (good name to pick) … a method of keeping fish eggs once naturally spawned.

By the 1790’s, Halesowen (Hales) Abbey had an elaborate fish pond system. It is still visible today. I was asked to survey this by Lord Cobham’s Estate Office a while back with a view to re-instating it for fishing use.

1834 A.D., Shaw and Young started work on artificial Salmon Hatching in Scotland

1837 A.D. John Shaw of Drumbugrigg, Scotland, developed skills in ‘artificially impregnating salmon eggs’, publishing his observations in 1840. Edinburgh. Is there a copy of this in your Library? Contact us.

1841 A.D., An excellent treatise on the Management of Fresh Water Fish, was published by Gottlieb Boccius in London and dedicated to Sir Robert Shafto Adair, Flixten Hall, Harlesten, Norfolk. Ponds on this Norfolk estate are mentioned in the book along with 22 ponds (largest being 27 acres) at Machern in Saxony.

In 1842 A.D. Gehin, and Joseph Remy in France, independently re-discovered Jacobi’s methods and from this point in History, Fish Farming through artificial spawning started to become popular.

1848 A.D. Gottlieb Boccius’s book “Artificial Spawning, Breeding and Rearing of Fish” is published.

1850 A.D., Don Pichon’s manuscript of 1420 A.D. on the “Artificial Fecundation and Hatching of Fish” was published for the first time.

1851 A.D. The ‘Societe d’Emulation of the Doubs’ issued a paper entitled “Artificial Fecundation of Fish” when they first set up a trout hatchery. This hatchery failed and they moved operations to Huningue. (See below)

July 1852 the salmon breeding operations at Stormontfield originated, at a meeting of ‘The Proprietors of the River Tay’.

5 th August 1852, The Huningue Institute, France, Near Basle, started work on breeding brown trout for re-stocking the rivers of France. Apparently, they built this Trout farm (following a failed attempt at another site in 1851) after the ‘Societe d’Emulation of the Doubs’ pulled all the right strings in the French Government, following a tip off from a school inspector called Mausion, who realised the importance of some fish hatching work being done by a professional Trout netsman, Remy, who along with his friend, J.-B. Gehin (who ran the local pub) was worried about dwindling trout stocks.

Autumn 1852, Messrs. Asworth commenced artificial propagation of Salmon at Oughterard in Galway.

1853. Book by M. Coste entitled “Practical Instructions upon Pisciculture”.

1853.  Haxo d’Espinal wrote on the “Artificial Fecundation and Hatching of the Eggs of Fish” . It was a second Edition that came out in 1853

1853. Edmund and Thomas Ashworth pub. “Propagation of Salmon and other Fish”. Stockport.

1850’s, Vogt in Switzerland was working on something but so far, I haven’t had a moment to research this so if you are in Switzerland or know about Vogt’s work, could you send me a sentence or two to put here.

c. 1854. After reading Stephen Ludvig Jacobi’s German experiments of 1763 A.D., Dr. T. Garlick (of Cleveland, Ohio, North America) and Mr. Ackley started having great success rearing different freshwater fish in America. They probably did some work on Rainbow or Steel head trout whilst Europe was still working with their Brown trout at this time. They published in *1857.

Autumn 1856. The major discovery of the ‘Dry Method’ of taking fish eggs (i.e. onto a sieve, not into or underwater) was made in Russia, by M.Vrasski. (Or some spell it Wrasky) This breakthrough method turned fish farming around but it’s not quite the same one used nowadays for today, the eggs go into a bowl with the ovarian fluid which works a treat – I can’t credit anyone with this more ‘moist method’ yet, but if you know of the person who should be included in this “Fish Farming Hall of Fame” for ditching the Vrasski sieve idea then tell me please and I’ll update this. Thank you.

1857. Theodatus Garlick*, M.D., North America, published his findings in “Fish Culture : A treatise on the Artificial Propagation of Fish”.  New York.

1860’s onwards: During this Era, many people were working on developing Fish Farming and Aquaculture:-
In Great Britain, Halford, James Hogg, Andrew Knox, and Boccius;  In Germany, Bloch;  In France, Quatrefages; In Italy, Spallanzani.

1862. William Brown. “Natural History of the Salmon, as ascertained at Stormontfield”. Glasgow.

April 2nd 1863, the opening of the First Public Aquarium ( Fish House in Regents Park Zoological Gardens, London. Keeper: James Tennant). In this same year Frank Buckland published his book on Fish Hatching, displayed fish-hatching apparatus in the window of the offices of “The Field” Magazine in the Strand, London, and started work on the World’s first ‘Museum of Economic Fish-Culture’.

1863 A.D., Mr Stephen Ponder Hampton conducted artificial fish propagation work for the Thames Angling Preservation Society.

1864 A.D., M. Coste and Dr. Kemmerer “Propagation of Oysters”. Brighton. Do you know whereabouts this took place? Add your facts.

1865 A.D., the book ‘Fish – Culture’ by Francis Francis was published.  His Grandson, John M. Francis of Ropley donated a copy of his Grandfather’s book to the World of Water library in  1986.

1866 A.D., W.A.Fry. ” Artificial Fish Breeding” . New York

c. 1866 A.D., Seth Green made the first attempts to organise a series of Fish Breeding stations throughout America. He published his work “Trout Culture” in 1870, Caledonia, New York.

1868. J.J.Armistead, assisted by John Parnaby, worked on Canadian ideas and built the first real Commercial Hatchery in Great Britain … The Troutdale Hatchery, at Borrowdale, Cumberland.

1868. William Beard, M.D., “Practical Water Farming”. Edinburgh.

1868 . Thaddeus Norris. “American Fish Culture”. Philadelphia.

1869 The American Trout (Salmo fontinalis) was introduced into Great Britain and bred with success at Troutdale Hatchery.

1870 A.D. The First Sturgeon Farm was set up, in Russia. I think there is about 26 now but if you are in Russia and know the latest score, hi there, let us know and we’ll update this. Thank you. I’ve never tasted Sturgeon or the smaller Sterlet but I love the pattern of their scales and their overall shape.

1870 A.D. Est. of the Deutsher Fisherie Vereim (A powerful influence on European Fish Culture matters)

1870 The American ‘Fish Culturists’ Association’ was formed.

circa 1872 In U.S.A., ‘The Bureau of Fisheries’ was formed.

1873. The first living Black Bass (Grystes nigricaus) ever seen in Britain, were brought over from America to Troutdale Hatchery for trial breeding.

1882. After being so impressed with American efforts to farm marine fish, Captain G.M.Dannervig founded a commercial marine fish hatchery, mainly for cod, at Flodevigen on the Skagerrak, Norway.

1883. The International Fisheries Exhibition took place at South Kensington, London.

1885. America’s first commercial marine hatchery was in full operation at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Soon after, another was set up at Gloucester Harbour, North of Cape Cod.

1885 in Europe, saw a “common fisheries policy” start. Due to pollution of the River Rhine thus the decline in Salmon stocks, all those states bordering the Rhine agreed to jointly manage its long Salmon Fishery by building Salmon Hatcheries. They didn’t manage to halt the pollution so this effort failed over time. How are the salmon stocks in the Rhine at the moment … if you know, let me know! Thank you.

1887, The first English Fisheries Laboratory was opened by the Marine Biological Association at Plymouth. Still going strong.

circa 1889, William James Lunn started the first Trout Hatchery on the River Test for the Houghton Fishing Club.

circa 1890, The American ‘steel head’ or rainbow trout was imported into Denmark kicking off their start into fish farming though I think the ‘steel head’ was first brought into Europe around 1860. I visited the Bayerische Landesanstalt fur Fischerie in Starnberg, Bavaria, and Dr. Bayrle told me their records show they had stocks of both Rainbow and Brook Trout from America in 1881. Denmark went into Marine fish farming in 1974 and is doing rather well for a late starter!

1893 . The First cultured pear was produced on July 11th in Japan [though naturally the pearl oyster had been working on it for sometime!]

1893. A Plaice Hatchery was erected near the Marine Biological Station at Dunbar in Scotland; managed by Harald Dannevig from Norway. Was Captain G.M.Dannervig (1882) his father? Contact me.

1894. First UK School of Fish Culture opened by J.J.Armistead at Solway

1897.  The Lancashire Sea Fisheries Committee financed the setting-up of a hatchery for Plaice and Flounder at Piel, near Barrow.

1901. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) was set up to assess the problems of maintaining long-term marine fish supplies.

1902. A Plaice hatchery at Port Erin, Isle of Man, was established. This survives to this day but is now a marine laboratory.

1905. America’s third commercial marine hatchery starts operating at Boothbay Harbour.

1912. Norway started salt water farming of Rainbow Trout.

1912. Prof. Hoffer, famed for his “Hoffer Pond” , designed  the Wielenbach fish farm. I visited there in 1983 when Dr. Martin Bohl was planning to start a pilot plant breeding daphnia and rotifer. Does anyone reading this know how the plans progressed as in two years time, I’ll be re-looking at live feed production techniques again for a new shellfish farm development. If you have any news, I’d be very happy if you would update me, thank you.

1921. The Lowestoft Fisheries Laboratory was opened, UK.

1921. The Futami Shell Culture Experimental Station opened, Japan.

1930s. The Italians were at their goldfish production peak using the same fish farming areas at Comacchio on the Adriatic that the Romans used circa. 1229 A.D..

1935. Western Australia established a fish hatchery at Pemberton.

1948. (May 15th) Publication of “Fish Farming in the Middle and Far East” by Dr. C.F.Hickling, Fisheries Adviser, Colonial Office.

1950. A Danish entrepreneur opened the first “table trout” farm in Lincolnshire. If you have any details on this, let me know at WoW

Since 1951 the Massachusetts’ State Lobster Hatchery and Research Station at Vineyard Haven has been rearing lobsters to the liberating stage for release along their coastline.

1959. In the Sudan, the Black Lip Pearl Shell is farmed to support the development of a Button factory.

1960. First British Seaweed Farm was started by George Tessyman with his two sons John and Bruce, and a family friend, John Earl in Dartmouth, Devon.

1968 . A special mention for the Late C.F.Hickling who wrote “The Farming of Fish” (Pergamon Press) because in 1986, his son, Canon C.H.A. Hickling, became a patron of the UK Educational Charity, World of Water.     Update: C.F.Hickling’s great-nephew studied for a degree in Marine Biology. Get in touch with your news.

1969. World Mariculture Society founded. (Now the World Aquaculture Society)

1972. Fish Farm Development Ltd. founded with the primary aim to develop and apply technologies in aquaculture. Founder: Ian Stuart MacFarlane.

February 1975. The Law had to be changed in Western Australia so as to allow the establishment of private Crayfish Farms.

April 1976. The European Mariculture Society was established.

In 1982. Dr. Seddon’s Team at the Birmingham Museum, Art Gallery and Nature Centre partnered with WOW to create the first exhibition on the ‘History of Aquaculture‘ since Frank Buckland‘s ‘Museum of Economic Fish Culture’ over 100 years before.

1983. Salmon Farm (Craignash Salmon Ltd.) Scotland

1983. Salmon Farm (Isle of Dura Salmon Ltd.)

1983. HVA Agro-Industries b.v. (Holland): review of fish farming development in tropical Africa and sites in Egypt.

1983. British Overseas Trade Board: Appraisal of salmon farming opportunities on the Eastern seabord of the USA.

1983. Welsh Development Agency commission “Guidelines for fish farming development in Wales” and the appraisal of a 200 t.p.a. trout farm.

1983. British Overseas Trade Board:  On-site survey commissioned re fish farming opportunities in Thailand.

1983. Akrotiri Fish Farm Ltd. commission on-site survey for a marine fish farm in Cyprus.

1983. Alakija (Holdings (Nigeria) Ltd.  commission study of intensive fish farm development in Nigeria

1984 World of Water’s message toured the UK with the West Midlands Museum Service thanks to the foresight of Jocelyn Orchard, and called for the careful, ecologically balanced development of Aquaculture

1984. Commission of European Communities on-site survey of prawn production and marketing for People’s Republic of China.

1985. Feasibility study for intensive tilapia farm using water treatment – Wadi Hisban (Howard Humphrey & Ptnrs. / Ministry of Planning, Jordan).

1986. WoW (World of Water) granted UK Registered Charity Status

1986. Development of intensive tilapia farm utilising recirculation ground water. Bin Ammar Establishment, Saudi Arabia.

1987. 300,000 smolts p.a. Atlantic Salmon Hatchery. Miklilax h.f. Iceland.

1989.  Salmones Reloncavi S.A. operating 1000 t.p.a. seatrout cage farms in Chile.

1990: The World Aquaculture harvest was estimated as being worth over $22 billion.

1992. Aguas Claras S.A. producing 1.2 million Atlantic Salmon smolts p.a. for ongrowing operations of 5.000 tons annually.

1993. Bubiyan Fisheries Co. KSC, Kuwait, expanding cage aquaculture in the Gulf.

1993. Five forward looking Cyprus companies look at the environmental impact of their aquaculture operations (Seacrest Ltd., Telia Aqua-Marine Ltd., Aquaculture Technologies Ltd. and Sagro Deep Sea Fish Ltd.).

1993. A. Sandison & Sons Ltd. smolt production in their Atlantic Salmon hatchery around 850,000 p.a..

2004. Oil pollution in the Cleddau causes closure of Pembrokeshire Trout & Salmon Ltd.,

2004.   AWF (Aquaculture Without Frontiers) granted UK Charity Status.

2005.  UK’s first Barramundi Farm opens.

  • Precision Aquaculture Emergence: Early applications of technology in aquaculture, including sensor usage and basic data monitoring.
  • Expansion of Shrimp Farming: Growth of shrimp farming in Asia, particularly in countries like China, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Concerns Over Disease: Increased focus on disease management and biosecurity in response to disease outbreaks affecting aquaculture stocks.


  • Rise of Alternative Feeds: Increased research and adoption of alternative and sustainable feeds to reduce dependence on wild-caught fish for feed.  Innovations include feeds made from insect proteins, plant-based ingredients, and microbial sources.
  • Early Applications of RAS: Initial developments and adoption of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) for improved water management.
  • Aquaculture Certification Programs: Expansion of certification programs, such as ASC and BAP, promoting sustainable and responsible aquaculture practices.

The start of the 21st century saw aquaculture take on great importance worldwide. According to a report on fishing and aquaculture by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2016, “In terms of global production volume, that of farmed fish and aquatic plants combined, surpassed that of capture fisheries in 2013”.


  • Advancements in Precision Aquaculture: Greater integration of advanced technologies, AI, and machine learning in precision aquaculture for real-time monitoring and decision-making.
  • Focus on Genetics and Selective Breeding: Increased attention on genetic improvements, selective breeding, and the potential applications of gene editing in aquaculture.
  • Blockchain in Traceability: Initial explorations and implementations of blockchain technology for improved traceability and transparency in the seafood supply chain.

By 2018, according to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, there were over 600 aquatic organisms farmed across the world.

2021. Beyond Earth, NASA send 5,000 tardigrades and 128 glow-in-the-dark new born squidlets to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on June 3 at 1:29 p.m. Eastern Time.

2022-2024 (Projected):

  • Further Advances in Genetic Technologies: Continued research and potential wider adoption of gene editing technologies in aquaculture.
  • Maturation of RAS Technology: Ongoing refinement and broader implementation of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems with increased efficiency and scalability offers a more controlled and efficient way to raise fish in a closed-loop system. The technology minimizes water usage, reduces environmental impact, and allows for the production of fish in land-based facilities.
  • Expansion of Offshore Aquaculture: Growing interest and experimentation with offshore aquaculture and open-ocean farming for increased sustainability and reduced environmental impact.
  • Increased Integration of Aquaponics: Further exploration and adoption of aquaponics as a sustainable and resource-efficient method of aquaculture.
  • Enhanced Data Analytics: Continued integration and improvement of data analytics tools for more precise decision-making in aquaculture management.
  • 3D Printing in Aquaculture Infrastructure: Research into 3D printing technology is applied to create innovative structures for aquaculture infrastructure, such as artificial reefs and structures that enhance habitat for farmed species.


To accompany this exhibition, various artifacts and early aquaculture equipment were loaned to World of Water. The inventory of exhibits included:

Ancient Egyptians fishing and fish keeping (illustration)

“Piscinae: Artificial Fishponds in Roman Italy” by Higginbotham (ISBN 0-8078-2329-5  c.1997) (Book)

Illustration depicting a long Shell Necklace on a bearded merman or possibly depicting early Mussel (Rope) Culture.

Pen and ink drawing c.1673 Oyster Culture methods in Japan, showing the placing of bamboo hurdles in intertidal zones to catch the oyster spat fall and the harvesting.

Model of ‘Kakaban’ or ‘Spawning Mat’ ( An artificial ‘mat’ of vegetation; weighted down in ponds at spawning time to ‘capture’ sticky fish eggs like those of carp.)

Drawing of Fish Cage (Weighted down) Date unknown but pre-dates 1856 (date of publication) A hundred years later, Dr. Marcel Huet photographs a similar system still in use in Indonesia to confine Carp.

Model depicting Dom Pichon (from the 1982 World of Water Exhibition, Aber Gwen Visitor Centre). Reference Note: Fellow researcher, Richard St.George mentions that Juliana was the Prioress of a Nunnery at the time of Dom Pichon whose treatise on Pond Culture may have been reproduced in 1590 A.D.

Notes on possible First Carp in England from Dame Juliana Berners book “A treatise of Fysshynge with an Angle” (First pub.,  thought to be 1496. Republished Circa 1506). Date disputed – could have been 1514 A.D. (per Leonard Mascal. See below). This question was aired on a BBC TV programme filmed at Crasswall Priory. One thing that both Izaak Walton and C.F. Hickling quote, is this little ditty in their books : “Turkies, carps, hops, pickles and beer came all into England in one year”.

Reference Note: 1547 may be date of 1st Edn.. 1559(Zurich?), 2nd Edn.. 1599 Edn was first English Language Edn. and titled “Booke of Good Husbandry”.

British Library Copy of ‘A Book of fishing with hooke and line, and of all other instruments there-unto belonging. Leonard Mascall 1590, ends abruptly on page 93

Model depicting Leonard Mascall; from the 1982 World of Water Exhibition

Oyster Culture Mats. Placed in sea to collect spat (young free-swimming stage in Oyster life) and provide a home surface on which the oyster attaches and grows.

” It appears (Roger) North repeated Taverner almost verbatum with little original work. In turn Taverner derived material from George Churchey whose material was exclusively taken from James Dubravius. Dubravius’ work is based on the writings of the Greek, Xenecratis (Xenecrates)”. (per Richard St.George). There may be a possible reprint London Edn. in 1770

Model depicting Stephen Ludvig Jacobi from the 1982 World of Water Exhibition

Diagram: ‘Caisse de Stephen Jacobi’ – rather like Kashmir or Pahari Boxes but with one or more hinged lids.

Diagram of stripping ova into water before the ‘Dry Method’ was discovered in Russia by M.Vrasski 1856

Book:  “A Plain and Easy Introduction to the Knowledge and Practice of Gardening, with Hints on Fish & Fish Ponds. Charles Marshall. London 1796 A.D. (Also an Edn. in 1805).

Book: “Experimental Observations on the Development and Growth of Salmon Fry. John Shaw. Edinburgh. 1840

Journal of the Agricultural Union of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. No.37  1840 AD

Memoirs of the Central Society of Agriculture . Vol. XLVIII. 1840 Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Address of G.Boccius, New Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London. Oct.16th 1841

Reports on the work of Gehin and Remy in 1842

Book: “Artificial Spawning, Breeding and Rearing of Fish, Gottlieb Boccius. Van Voorst,Paternoster Row 1848. (7290, c.20 British Library Reference)

Preserved Trout Eggs on framed glass tube racking (On loan from Bibury Trout Farm) suspended in slate hatching troughs.

Illustration: Starret’s American Chopping Machine for preparing Fish Food

Engraving: Water-powered Trout Feeding Machine “Futtermaschine fur die Kunstliche Fischzucht. Otto Hamerle”.

Sieve for catching fish ova that allows ovarian fluid to drain through.

Fish Transporting ‘box’ from Bavaria

Index Cards (Searle / Buckland) Museum of Economic Fish Culture, London, UK. c.1864.

Photograph: Two fish egg pickers at work removing dead eggs in a trout hatchery using special cup ended fish egg picking tweezers.

Photograph: J.J. Armistead , ‘Consulting Piscatorial Engineer’, Solway Fishery, Dumfries,  with conical Howietown Fishery (Stirling) Fry Transport tank foreground detail. Site of the First UK School of Fish Culture 1894

Photograph: Stripping Salmon Ova. USA

Fish Transporting Can (On loan from Arlington Mill Museum, Bibury) as Exhibited at the WoW Exhibition on the History & Future of Aquaculture, UK. 1983

Photograph: The First UK School of Fish Culture, started by J.J.Armistead in 1894 (See also entry for 1868. re: The Troutdale Hatchery, at Borrowdale, Cumberland)

Glass Grille incubation tray incubation tray used to hold fish eggs mid-water in shallow hatching troughs. Displayed at the WoW Exhibition on the History and Future of Aquaculture, City Museum, Stoke on Trent 1987. (loaned from Bibury Fish Farm)

Message from Jane Bryant re: Ravert-Wattel, C. La Pisciculture Industrielle. 1914. G.Doin et Cie. Paris. 408p  74 fig. .

Drawings: Futami Shell Culture Station (Hyogo Prefecture, Japan 1921-1938) showing experiments on collecting Oyster Larvae on Tree Branches; Bamboo Sticks; Stones; Shells; Wood Chips covered in coal tar; Concrete Blocks; Glass and Roofing Tiles.

Book and letter from Hickling, C.F.  “Fish Culture” . 2nd Edn. 1971 Faber and Faber, London

Book: Lehrbuch der Terchwirtschaft. (Pub. 1933, Paul Parey, Berlin, 289p., 71 fig.) by  ‘W. Schaeperclaus’, re: Fish Farming in Germany.

E.W.Searle’s original cast from the Frank Buckland’s Museum of Economic Fish Culture  [c.1864] of 13 trout killed by a pollution incident. On loan from Bibury Fish Farm and Exhibited at the WoW 1982 Exhibition.

Design drawings for International Water Educational Centre;  1st published by World of Water, 1985. (Designed by Architect and WoW Trustee Tim Griffiths.)

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Further reading:

HISTORY OF AQUACULTURE by Herminio R. Rabanal   (Lecture: 24.March 1988)

Bardach, J.E., 1972 J.H. Ryther and W.O. McLarney, Aquaculture; the farming and husbandry of freshwater and marine organisms. Wiley-Interscience, N.Y. 1972: XIII + 868 p.

FAO. 1976 Symposium on aquaculture in Africa, Accra, Ghana, 30 September–2 October 1975. CIFA Tech. Pap., (4) Suppl. 1:791 p.

FAO. 1977 Simposia sobre acuicultura en America Latina, Montivedio, Uruguay, 26 de Noviembre a 2 de Diciembre de 1974, FAO. Inf. Pesca, (159) Vol. 3: 136 p.

Hickling, C.F. 1962 Fish culture. Faber and Faber, London: 296 p.

Hickling, C.F. 1968 The farming of fish. Pergamon Press, London: 88 p.

Hora, S.L. and T.V.R. Pillay. 1962 Handbook on fish culture in the Indo-Pacific Region. Fisheries Division, FAO, FB/T14: 204 p.

Ling, S.W. 1977 Aquaculture in Southeast Asia: A historical overview. A Washington Sea Grant Publication, Contributions, College of Fisheries, University of Washington No. 465: 108 p.

Pacific Islands Development Program, East West Center, 1984 A review of aquaculture activities in the Pacific Islands Region, PIDP, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 1984: 1–22 papers with variable pages.

Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute. 1980 Pond fish culture in China. Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute, China National Bureau of Aquatic Products, February 1980: 136 p.

U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, 1900 G. M, Bowers, Commissioner. A manual of fish-culture, based on the methods of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, with chapters on the cultivation of oysters and frogs. Washington Government Printing Office, Revised Edition, 1900: X +340 p.

Fellow researcher on the subject of Fish Farming History, Jane Bryant, mentions that in 1968, Theatrum Orbis Terranum Ltd.(Amsterdam) and De Capo Press, New York,  published a facsimile of Taverner’s book.