Aquaculture in Indiana alone generates an estimated $38.5 million for local economies and employs 279 Indiana residents according to a new study published by Purdue, says Sheila Lingle, Indiana Soybean Alliance's Director of Aquaculture.
"ISA helped fund the study and it helped us to see that Indiana's aquaculture industry has grown more than 600 % from the years 2006-2012," Lingle says. She adds that ISA has been involved from the ground up when it created an initiative in 2007 dedicated to growing our Indiana's aquaculture industry.
Indiana produces roughly 1.5 million pounds of fish per year from about 40 farmers, estimated at a value of $15 million. Types of fish include tilapia, yellow perch, prawns, shrimp, bait fish, catfish, hybrid striped bass, blue gill and decorative fish.
Why is this important to Indiana soybean farmers? Because fish like soybean meal. By replacing a percentage, or all of the fish meal with soybean meal, aquaculture becomes more sustainable – both economically and environmentally. It also becomes another high demand industry for Indiana soybeans. Aquaculture is the fastest growing use for soybean meal worldwide.
Overall, aquaculture is a very fast growing food sector. Global fish consumption has doubled in the last 40 years. Supply will not keep up with demand without a strong aquaculture industry and farm-raised fish. Currently global aquaculture production is nearly 60 million tons. That is half the world's fish supply. In the U.S. alone 84% of the seafood consumed is imported, mostly from Asia. At $11 billion it's our second largest natural resource deficit.
Interested in participating in Indiana Aquaculture? One way to get your feet wet is to attend the 2014 North Central U.S. Aquaculture Conference in Toledo, Ohio. The focus of this conference is "Integrating Research with Real-World Experiences" so that attendees return home with information of immediate value to their current or proposed aquaculture business.
You can register online at www.ohioaquaculture.org for the conference, set for Feb. 22-23.